His name is Immy Mellin but artists and fans alike know him as the Sharpie King. His Sharpie marker moniker is the result of his passionate use of Sharpie markers in all of his art. We found Immy on Flickr.com and were absolutely amazed at just what can be done with Sharpie markers – his work is nothing short of artistic genius! Read on to learn more about Immy and his work.
How did you get started as an artist and what were some of your early inspirations?
I started as an artist as a little boy. My mother worked at a hotel in Acapulco and she asked her co-workers to babysit for her. Her coworkers took me to the beach each day and while I was there I would draw in the sand and build sand castles. I used whatever materials that I could get my hands on. I just wanted to draw. My inspiration comes from my Imagination. I start with rows and lines and little by little it forms into an expression of what is inside me; and then I also get inspiration when the people come to me for something that they want done. For example, a husband might want a portrait of his wife. After receiving the picture I begin to reproduce it but in my own interpretation and style.
How would you describe the style of your art?
Graphic, geometric, complex, abstract, and surreal.
How did you come to use Sharpie markers exclusively in your artwork?
I began using Sharpie 17 years ago. I started with another brand of markers and they weren’t as good. I wanted more shine, more colors, and for my art to be more vibrant. The other markers didn’t have the quality of ink that would last and not fade. I have drawings over fourteen years in age and they compare to drawings that I made in the past month. It was also determined by the people. When people saw my art done with sharpie I received a better response and feedback than when I used other brands.
What about Sharpie markers makes them your medium of choice? Is it the variety of tip sizes, colors, other? Please describe how you use Sharpie markers as an art tool.
Sharpie is my medium of choice because it allows me to express more because of the variety of colors. The ink also last a very long time. Also, I use a combination of colors and lines in my art that other mediums wouldn’t allow me to create with. Sharpie markers give me everything from colors, straight lines, and longevity.
Tell us about some of your own favorite work? What seems to get the most attention during your showings?
My favorite piece that I did was my “Mona Lisa.” I started three years ago in 2005. It was after my ex-wife divorced me. I was at home alone and I remember asking myself, “What do I do?” I saw a picture of Mona Lisa and I said, “I will do Mona Lisa.” I started with pencils and sheets of paper. At first there was 6 and then 8, and then it grew to 12 sheets of paper. I remember showing others the Mona Lisa when it was done and everyone loved it.
I think people are drawn to my artwork because of the colors. I find that when you ask people about art that the first thing that they notice or say is I like the colors. Second, I think it’s the disbelief that my art is done entirely with sharpie. People see my art and are amazed by the complexity and the patience that they see in it. Also, I think that people are drawn to it because they understand it and don’t understand it at the same time.
You have been donned the “Sharpie King.” How did you get the moniker and what makes you the King?
I was donned the “Sharpie King” because I had an art exhibition at 2nd Floor Gallery in the neighborhood of Pilsen of Chicago. The gallery’s director Zore and artist Rada gave it to me and it caught on. Before I knew it everyone was calling me the “Sharpie King.” What is it that makes me the “Sharpie King” it is the people who have seen my art they are the ones who gave me the moniker. It also might be because I always wear a Sharpie around my neck.
Can you describe the process you go through to create your art? How many hours does it take? Is it a free-hand approach or do you create a template in advance?
The process of my artwork starts out with me wondering what I will do next. I start with one sheet and little by little, row by row, sheet by sheet it unveils itself. I start with a simple outline and then I move on to adding the designs and graphics sheet by sheet. I go from each row, from top to bottom one sheet at a time. I start out by doing freehand. When I complete the basic shapes I go onto adding the designs with a straight edge and stencil. The time it takes me depends on the complexity and the dimensions of what I’m drawing. The quickest I ever done one was in one day. The longest it’s ever taken me is four years. It all depends.
What statement are you trying to make, if any? What do you want people take from your art?
The statement that my art makes is about peace and love. It also shows my growth and development as an artist. I try to get better each time. I want people to see good art and something that they’ve never seen before or thought of. I want them to grow and develop the same way that I do each time I complete a drawing.
Sharpie marker’s tagline is “Write Out Loud!” Does this apply to your work and if so, how?
I think the tagline applies to my artwork because even though I’m not writing, my pictures say a thousand words that are loud enough to stops people and holds their attention long enough to get my message across. During my exhibitions people come in from the street some stand at the window and look in and some come in to view all of my collection. I would say it speaks or writes out loud.
Tell us what you think – post a comment. If you’d like to submit your Sharpie marker creation for consideration, please email info and images to firstname.lastname@example.org. Better yet, enter your Sharpie thing in our contest at sharpie.com.
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