MCIE is a visual artist creating digital and traditional works. In this interview, we talk about their incredible fore-edge painting.
Can you tell us about your background and how you go into art?
I’ve always been an artistic person, my first foray into art was an obsession with tracing all the drawings in those old Neopets magazines you used to be able to get in the early 2000s. But in terms of taking art seriously, it wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I was put straight into Advance Art did I start to get the confidence that maybe art was something I could pursue.
I was accepted to Savanah College of Art and Design and received a full portfolio scholarship but later decided to pass on the offer. It was originally my intention to study stop motion animation but through dedicating myself to a self-study in arts I moved more into painting, specifically oils and watercolour.
When did you discover fore-edge painting and what drew you to it?
As with most things these days I found fore-edge painting via the wonder of the internet haha. I first saw the work of Martin Frost out of the UK and thought it was astonishing what could be accomplished and how he was keeping the art form alive. Previously I had only seen historical examples in art history classes.
However, it wasn’t until I saw the work of Maisie Matilda that I felt the desire to try out fore-edge painting myself. She went viral online for her TikToks of Lord of the Rings fore-edge paintings; it was the first time I had seen fore-edges done in such a contemporary manor. Shortly after I made my very first fore-edge painting, Elizabeth and Mr Darcy on a paperback copy of Pride and Prejudice, for a friend’s birthday, March 2022.
I’ve always been drawing the unique and interesting art forms, my other most common medium and surface is oil on coins, so it felt inevitable that I would want to try another fairly unknown and possible difficult painting style. For some reason I’m just draw to the small and uncommon.
What is your creative process for fore-edge paintings?
I use Procreate on my iPad pro to make all the design mock-ups. They usually consist of a mix between imagery from the relevant adaptation of the book if there is one, other reference images for poses or landscapes as needed, and then my own drawings to put it all together. I use these to create a line drawing as a reference to refer to when painting and to establish where the major elements will land across the book.
During the actual painting process I typically have up multiple reference images to help inform my colouring and lighting. As with any painting there are always some artistic liberties I take and also limitations to be mindful of: watercolour will always be watercolour after all and book paper can only hold so much.
What has been your favourite piece so far?
Of the work I’ve already completed my favourite is surprisingly the second fore-edge I ever made, a painting of Frodo Baggins with the one ring and the Eye of Sauron on a paperback of Lord of the Rings. I think it’s my favourite because not only did it come out exactly as I had planned, but it showed a huge progression of skill from the first piece I had finished only the week before. I ended up gifting it to a long-time friend and knowing she treasures it makes it all the better still.
What does art bring to your life?
To me art is a needed outlet to showcase to the world what is in my mind. Almost daily I’m thinking of another painting, a book I’d like to write, oh what about a podcast I should start, or maybe I should finish that short film I made all the props for 5 years ago… but, like all of us, I only have finite time. Art has brought me closer to friends and family as I’ve allowed myself to share the vulnerabilities of creation that I previously felt to embarrassed to discuss in case others didn’t “get” what I could clearly picture in my mind. It’s been a wonderful confidence boost at least haha.
What are your ambitions and dreams for the future?
My ultimate goal is to be able to make a living off my creative works. Currently I’ve been working towards building up my commissions and I’m hoping to do a collection of my own designs on about a dozen books and have those go up for sale at the beginning of summer on my own website mcieart.com.
I would also love to be able to show my work in a gallery. After the enormous unexpected success of my Ulysses work, I’ve also reached out to James Joyce museums to see about displaying the piece or creating a new collaboration work.
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