Losing his job after an unforeseen lie-in, Powell found himself wandering the studio spaces of the University of Huddersfield, where a tutor urged him to sign up. Uni course finished, Powell headed to America to paint gallery-sponsored street art with friends. But it was with his detailed Biro portraits that he got his big break: when one of his pieces was featured on the website Colossal, the response was huge.
Mark Powell in his Brighton studio
© Mark Powell
2. He only works in Bic Medium Biro
Using pen adds an extra layer of complexity to the artist’s portraits and other works, but not just any pen will do – this model is his ballpoint of choice. “Simple and readily available”, Biros are a way for Powell to democratise his art and inspire future artists along the way. However, using the pens means there’s no room for mistakes: Powell has previously said that if something goes wrong, the work immediately goes in the bin.
Close Up Magic Tricks
Stunning work-in-progress shots revealing more and more of Powell's recent drawing, 'Close Up Magic Tricks'.
© Mark Powell
3. He’s a Hang-Up favourite
Perennially popular with Hang-Up customers, Powell’s works have been exhibited in our group and solo shows for more than a decade. Thought-provoking and intricate, his work never ceases to create wonder in the viewer and – for those building collections – complements work by many other artists on our roster, including Powell’s heroes Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hockney.
Installation views of Mark Powell's 2016 exhibition Anthropology at Hang-Up Gallery.
4. Many of his pieces are on antique documents
When somebody gifted Powell an envelope sent during World War II, it ignited a passion for found objects. Struck by the idea that whoever sent the letter contained inside may never have come back from the Front, the artist decided to draw the sender as he might have looked when he got old. Now, Powell uses maps and letters from as far back as the 18th-century on which to draw his trademark portraits. The documents inspire the subject matter for his pieces, whether in terms of story or aesthetic.
Portraits of Frida Kahlo and George Orwell by Mark Powell
© Mark Powell
5. His portraits are highly detailed
Reflecting his tendency towards historical found documents, Powell prefers to depict older people in his work because of the stories written on their faces. Due to the intricate nature of his pieces, the artist often works from photographs rather than live subjects. Aside from people, Powell also draws highly detailed still lifes of cameras, typewriters, animals and more.
All Conversations Are New
- Ballpoint pen drawing on a collection of antique envelopes
- Signed by the artist
- 55cm x 58cm
- Sold framed
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