Ep.17: On why is somebody going to hire me with Marco Bucci

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 27, 2017 •  Interviews

Marco always wanted to become a professional artist. First, he pursued music and writing as artistic passions. At age 19 he began to study classical drawing, which led him to kindle a love for painting and illustration. He hasn’t looked back since.

Marco’s experience includes books, film, animation, and advertising. His clients are Walt Disney Publishing Worldwide, LEGO, LucasArts, Mattel Toys, Fisher-Price, Hasbro, Nelvana, GURU Studio, C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, Yowza! Animation Inc., Pipeline Studios, and more.

Marco published 3 books filled with his amazing art – Imaginary Places – The Art of Marco Bucci; Small World; and Creativity and the Campfire.

Marco is also a passionate teacher, and currently teaches “The Art Of Color & Light” at CGMA, a course specifically designed to build painting fundamentals from the ground up.

Get in touch with Marco

Key Takeaways

“Produce it and edit it, to make it better”

Resources mentioned

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

Special thanks to Marco for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Marco Bucci, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where it’s all about how you can turn your creative passion into a profession. My name is Iva, and my guest today is amazing digital and watercolor artists originally from Canada, now living and working in Munich, Germany, he always wanted to become a professional artist, but first person music and writing is an artistic passions. His experience includes books, film, animation and advertising. He has worked with clients like Walt Disney publishing, Lego Lucas art, Mattel, toys, Fisher Price, Hasbro, and many more. He published three books filled with his amazing art, imaginary places, small world and creativity and the campfire. He’s also passionate teacher and currently teaches the art of color and light at CG master Academy, a course specifically designed to build painting fundamentals from ground up. So please welcome Marco Bucci. And let’s get to the interview, which are kind of your biggest decisions are turning points in the past, when you want it to decide like I want to be in art.

Marco Bucci  

Ever since I was a little kid, I remember as early as seven years old or even earlier, I would try and draw pictures and in class like, like so many other artists, except I was really bad at it. I was I was not good at drawing. I was not one of the kids who could just draw naturally. And we all know those kids, right? Maybe Maybe you were one of them. I don’t know. But I hate I hated those kids. Because I was I could not draw. And so it at first it. It completely deflated my hopes. I thought, Well, I’m not born with drawing. So I should stick to music because I was good at music. I could play the piano naturally. So I stuck to that. But anyway, the art passion never died. And sometime around age 19 It actually it was age 19. I started reading interviews from, you know, artists who were like in the animation industry, and they all said like, you should study life drawing life drawing is the way to get better. So I said, Oh, I’ll give it a try. I’ve never tried that. So I found a teacher. And I actually started to learn. And I realized at that point that you can learn how to draw. So that’s what turned. That’s what gave me the turning point.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because I read that or maybe I heard it in one of the interviews you did. Oh, yeah. That was with miltary. That you talked about the the mentor, Nick, right, I think.

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, his name is Nicholas. Leon. Yeah. So

Iva Mikles  

he was one of your mentors, maybe? Or who were other people who inspired you?

Marco Bucci  

Who Well, inspiration. I mean, that happens so widely. But yeah, so Nick was my first teacher and I guess one of my first inspirations, but in the wider world of art, oh, man. I mean, we can just go, let’s start 100 years ago and

Iva Mikles  

know what it means. Kind of to take your art seriously and turn your passion into the profession.

Marco Bucci  

Okay, well, getting back to Nick, Nick worked professionally and still works professionally. So I saw firsthand that you can make a living doing this. And, you know, I remember looking at early websites like I mean, back in 2000, there were much fewer artists online, but I remember looking at like Craig Mullins, who I still love. I remember there’s a Pixar animator named Victor and Ivone who still works at Pixar. He made that alien song that went viral. And I remember looking at his and he would do he did a lot of posts about life drawing and you know, his animation that he did at home this is 15 years ago now or more that animation got him a job and I’m like, Oh, this is cool like you you can get jobs just by in art just by you know working hard at it pursuing it. What

Iva Mikles  

was the best advice you’ve ever received? And worst maybe?

Marco Bucci  

Oh, that is a good question. Well the worst advice comes from it’s not one person who said this but you hear it throughout you know people who only think of the the monetary the money aspect when it comes to working as an artist because often I find that the jobs if you only evaluate jobs based on what they’re going to pay you you’re probably going to run into unexpected problems because it just it’s pay rarely ever equals the the job itself like a job So many more avenues to think about, like, how fulfilling it might be for your particular skill set, or like, you know, the things I that things I want to paint, you know, I have taken jobs in the past that have paid very little, but I got so much more out of it not only by doing the art, but even by exposure from it, you know? And, yeah, so I’ll evaluate jobs. And that’s, that was a piece of bad advice that I get. And oftentimes, you get that kind of advice from people who are not artists, typically, people in the business world Not to disparage any business people, but people in the business world. They don’t think like artists, and I’ve gotten that piece of advice a lot from from that world. And I always ignore it. And I guess, I mean, I hate to sound cliche, but the best advice is, is really that old saying just to follow, follow what’s in your heart. And that’s a very abstract kind of saying, because it’s, you have to really think about that. And it’s taken me, I’ve been doing this for about 15 years professionally now. And it’s taken, it’s taken me 15 years to learn exactly what that means for me. And it’s a continued area of growth. But that is the best advice as vague as it is.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because I received also some of the like, bad advice in past like, oh, you cannot leave from art. So that was kind of the take on it from my side, because I was like, okay, probably I can be only fine artist. And I cannot really live from it if I am not in a gallery. And now you have so many options what you can do. I think that’s that’s amazing.

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, I agree. And it’s funny because for me, I never actually wanted to be a fine artist. And even today, I do my own fine art, but I don’t live on my fine art. I’m a I’m a commercial artist, I work in productions and in books and prints and you know, advertising and stuff. If I think that if you I mean, you didn’t ask me for this, but I think a fine artists, if you want to get into fine arts, I think it’s actually a very good idea to work in production or the production art world because you can actually get a steady paycheck in that world. And then if you have dreams of being a fine artist, yet, you don’t feel like you can starve for five years. You know, maybe working in a production environment is just the backing you need to keep you in in the art world. But you can also pursue your fine arts. I know many fine artists like that.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because you need to make money in order to make art. So it’s not here. He doesn’t have to be the other way around. So

Marco Bucci  

yeah, exactly. And it’s nice if you’re in the art world for your living like I mean, you can absolutely work say in retail and do fine art on the side. But if you’re painting during the day at work, and then painting at night, I think that’s a that’s the way I would want to do it anyway.

Iva Mikles  

Good combination. Yeah. Yeah. And how would you describe your brand? Kind of? Is it a mission or vision which goes through all of your art?

Marco Bucci  

Okay, so the word brand is not a word that I think about. I it’s, it’s that whole business thing. So for me, like, my personal opinion is, or just for me, personally, I am not good at business. And when I when I hear the word brand, it reminds me of business thinking, and I instantly run away from it. Like it’s the plague. So what I do my mission, I do have a mission. And it’s, it’s to be happy. Yeah. And so everything I do in painting, drawing and whatever art related is, that is what makes me happy. So like, for example, if you look at my website, you’ll see a lot of green monster character. It from if you look from the outside in, you might think that that’s a brand like I’m just trying to brand that character, but it’s actually not that it’s just that I love painting that character, he, he seems to fit into so many pictures. And those pictures make me happy when I paint them. And, you know, he’s over the years, it’s been an ever occurring visual thing for me to paint that character. And, you know, my educational stuff that I have, that also makes me happy. So I just pursue what makes me happy. And if there’s a message I have, it’s not really like a message I can put into words, but I want people to you know, to feel positive and just, you know, brighten people’s day if I can, that’d be cool.

Iva Mikles  

Because all of your art pieces and all the drawings are super colorful. I love that. So yeah, definitely, like makes sense. Because every time I look at it, he’s like, Oh, this is so cool.

Marco Bucci  

Well and yours too. I know you’re you’re very I look at your work and you have these nice bright faces and you have a you I think you have a similar thing that I try and go for so I feel it from you as well. I really like

Iva Mikles  

the color so and so not so much about the drawing for me as well. I really like Oh, I like these colors. Let’s like do something with

Marco Bucci  

that. I totally agree. I basically draw just to get to the color.

Iva Mikles  

So I totally get you. But yeah, because when you said like the brand and kind of this strategic positioning because I also studied management and business. So it’s just kind of my way of Thinking to combine both. So yeah. And most of the time, they asked us kind of like, how do you position yourself in a in the market? Like, what is the something different? What you can offer to the client? You know, to think in that way?

Marco Bucci  

Okay, well, so I can answer that question without talking about business. Because I guess, when I decided to pursue art, you know, professionally, all of a sudden, you have to think about things like, Oh, I guess let’s call it branding. You have to think think about why is someone going to hire me? And at first, I didn’t, like 15 years ago, I didn’t have an answer to that question. I thought, Oh, someone’s gonna hire me because I really like art. But that’s not there’s a million people who really like art. And, and there’s like, a million people who are good at art. But what, what I’ve learned is, is for me, I have a focus. And that focus is, is light and color and like atmosphere. And you know, just what we were talking about with colors, like very evocative colors, pretty colors, bright colors, and just happy scenes, like, you know, whatever, I imbue that into my painting, even even if I’m painting like a horror scene, which I do sometimes I love that genre as well. It still has, its like people have called my horror work, like cute horror, which doesn’t make any sense. But that’s exactly the kind of place I want to be. And it gives my paintings an identity that you can identify like, that’s a hopefully, that’s a Marco buchi painting without knowing that I did it, you know. So I guess I brand myself that way, because I paint. Like I said, I paint what makes me happy. And what makes me happy is very consistent. So if, after 15 years, I’ve accrued a portfolio that has a very similar look to it without being repetitive, but my paintings have a similar fingerprint clients. But as a professional freelancer, now clients seem to really respond to that. And, you know, they always attach that was attached paintings that they like of mine, and you know, it’s, it’s always the same ones. It’s like the ones with the green monster. Oh, okay. Like that. They’ll never attach the Lego cover. It’s funny, even though like that’s a big company, they’ll never touch that one. They always say we love this green monster character. And these characters you do? Do we want you to do this for us? So so it’s, it has worked out for me on that on that kind of business level?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Okay. So they always like choose this kind of styling. Okay, that’s really cool. Because I really liked that. That’s the one where the monster is sitting on the bridge, right? Yeah, like super kid. And when you talk about like, the the inspiration and how you got like, the happy place? Is it the nature because also you like to travel? Right? So what do you get inspiration by by or from?

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, well, that’s another good question. I mean, I love you, I love to travel. My wife and I recently moved from, we’re from Canada, but she got a job in Munich, Germany. So we packed up and moved to Germany, we’re here for three years. And I since I’m a freelancer, I can work from anywhere, so and travel. I mean, I love Europe, because the architecture here is just, for me, it’s just so much more beautiful. But so traveling, and just being exposed to the world is huge for a visual person like me, because I can, I can draw so many different things. And all that stuff goes into like your mental library, right. And I just love I’m also, I’m into sports as well, I’d never actually, I didn’t pursue it as much as you did. But I love being outside, you know, I run a lot, I played soccer my whole life. So whenever I can get outside, even if it’s just for a 10 minute walk, to get some respite from a deadline, I’ll be outside walking and sketching. So I get my inspiration from bat a lot from traveling and just looking outside a lot. And these days, traveling feeds into my other inspiration, which is just just getting to know how people think, you know, just getting outside away from your desk, and interacting with the world on a personal level, even even if you’re not drawing, just seeing how, you know, just watching a kid play with, you know, her father or something in a park, watching two adults arguing just you know, things that people do that all filters back into the art. So you don’t have to draw sometimes to get inspiration.

Iva Mikles  

So this also kind of motivates you maybe to continue right or because some people feel stuck sometimes. Or how do you get over the kind of procrastination or do you don’t have that?

Marco Bucci  

Well, let’s see. I have a I was born with a pretty good work ethic. And now when it’s something I don’t like, I’m terrible at it. It’s absolutely terrible. Like if you tell me to mop the floor, that floor ain’t getting mopped for a week. But yeah, like I have to do it, but I’m getting better at that. I’m learning it better that but anyway, when it comes to like painting, I wake up every day and I’m like, I want to paint so there’s never been a problem. The only the only thing I had to learn and I’ve also been getting better at is time management and you probably know him way more about this than me. I should be asking you this question. But, but like I have clients, right? And clients have deadlines, and there are times, like, where I’m like, Well, I, I really don’t want to do these 10 revisions on this job, I’d rather be outside painting watercolor, but I can’t because it’s due to it’s due tomorrow morning. So just scheduling my time was something I had previous been previously been quite bad at. Because I didn’t keep track of like, something as simple as having a calendar on my wall. I didn’t have that for the longest time or like Google calendars or something. Yeah, you know, now, my wife really helps me with that. Now we, you know, we have a very detailed Google calendar with all my jobs when they’re due and you know, stuff like that. To balance Oh, you

Iva Mikles  

didn’t have that before you, like, didn’t use that calendar? Oh, my god, wow,

Marco Bucci  

I was, I’m, I am the world’s worst business person.

Iva Mikles  

But this art is you kind of have to be a business person as well, because you need to promote yourself somehow.

Marco Bucci  

It’s yeah, yeah, I agree. So I’ve been, that’s been a point of struggle for the longest time with me. And just to talk a little bit more about my wife while I can. She is a business person. Like I said, she well, I said, she got a job in Munich. I didn’t say what it was, but she works at a big company here. And so that her brain is wired that way. You know, we connect on many things. But one thing we’re very different at is, you know, I have an art brain, and she has a business brain. And we have been able to combine those. And as I’ve been with her for five years now. And ever since that, I’ve pretty much had a turning point business wise in five years, like she’s helped me get certain ducks in a row that I didn’t have before, including a Google Calendar. You know, I’ve been able to manage myself much more effectively that way.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I think it’s quite unnecessary when you want to progress or kind of grow or expand in your experiences.

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, like even making business goals like, you know, where do you want to be, like Job wise and five years? Like, do I want to be looking for, you know, if I’m doing jobs I don’t like right now, maybe in five years, or even one year, I don’t want to be doing this kind of work anymore. Like, I want to do more of children’s books or more, whatever it is. And like, how do you get there?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, exactly. And when you said, when you’re like traveling and painting outside? How is it that you simplify maybe? Or how do you do the layout and the scenes because they look really beautiful and simple. And when you look outside, everything is so complex and detailed? How have you applied?

Marco Bucci  

That’s a great compliment. Thank you. I think, yeah, so I said this in one of my videos, but there’s a human tendency to want to overcomplicate things. And in art, like never nowhere is that more apparent than in painting. Because in painting, especially when you’re painting from life, like you said, there’s a million details out there, there’s likely literally 1000s of leaves on a tree. And if you see only the detail, you won’t, you’re not likely to make an effective piece. Because actually, what we see is not detail, we just see the basic impression of what’s in front of us. Like that’s literally how our brains work. We don’t look at the details, we look at what’s important about a scene. So what I try and do is I try and understand that philosophy when I’m looking at something. So if I look at a scene that, you know, like, as you know, when you’re driving your car through a beautiful countryside, and your attention gets caught. It’s not because details because you saw something that responded emotionally resonated emotionally, right. So when I when that happens to me, and I’m like, Oh, I have to stop and paint. I first kind of do a small meditation on what exactly was that thing that caught me. And it’s usually something so simple, like, Oh, I love how that sunlight is making that yellow wall really glow. I have to get that yellow wall to glow. If that yellow wall doesn’t glow, I missed it. If the yellow wall glows, then I’ve got it. And then I can I can put like, all the extra stuff in after, you know. So I think the strength of any good painter like plein air painter who paints outside is is identifying even without even the brush in their hand identifying what it is that caught their attention. And then using the painting skills to put it down on paper.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah.

Marco Bucci  

Yeah. Sorry, can I add one more thing. I always recommend to people to paint very small pictures outside. Because it because when you paint small, it encourages you and forces you to go for that one. Very simple thing. When you paint a large canvas, the temptation is to go for all the detail right? So paint small paint with large brushes and paint small and you will you will probably progress more quickly toward capturing what it is about the scene that that’s resonating.

Iva Mikles  

Okay. And then for the layout do you do like a pencil sketch before and then you start using colors or that’s how you do it?

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, I have I mean, but it’s not even a sketch my pencil sketch. That’s just only meant to be understood by me because it’s going to be soon painted over. Yeah. So if you, if you saw my pencil sketch, yeah, if you saw my pencil sketch that do that I do outside, it’s brutal, but it’s just composition. It’s like, you know, I want the building to be over here. And then I want this object to be over here. So I’ll just put a little markings. And yeah, and if it’s something like let’s say something is shaped like a triangle, I’ll draw it literally like a triangle, literally, like a circle. So it’s very, very basic.

Iva Mikles  

Okay, and how would you compare it with the digital because you paint also in Photoshop? So of course, sometimes in digital softwares, we are like, oh, yeah, I can always go back and fix my mistakes. So how would you compare these two mediums? Like, what is good? About Aegir? Maybe How do you approach this,

Marco Bucci  

the thing that I love so much about traditional media, and why I still continue to use it is because you, you can’t go back. I mean, you can, but you have to paint over your stuff like you can’t undo is what I’m trying to say. Yeah. So there’s, it develops a not only a bravery, but a respect for the process. Whereas if you can undo and you can put things on layers, you almost bypass that development of having a respect for what it is you’re doing and for your for your own decision making, right? Like I need to know when you’re outside, when I’m outside painting, I need to know that the decision I just made is good to build on. Whereas if I want to undo everything, you’re kind of like eroding that from the ground level. And if you don’t trust your own decisions, I don’t care what software you’re using, you’re not going to be able to produce good work. So that’s why when I work in digital paints, I approach digital paint very much the same, I try and work on one layer as much as possible. And I try and get myself to not use the software’s bells and whistles and and in order to commit to something. What do you think about that? I’m I’m wondering, yeah, because I

Iva Mikles  

started actually digitally. So it’s super hard to go back to the traditional and like, when I looked at some of your paintings, it’s really like challenging. I was like, Oh, my God, I should do this. Yeah, so it’s still really hard for me to do the traditional because I’m still learning as well. I think it’s everyone all the time. Yeah. Yeah. For me, like Photoshop is much easier. And the traditional paint I’m not so used to yet.

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, it sir. I mean, Photoshop certainly is easier. But when you learn how to get how to work with the pigments and the physical materials, I find that like actually, knowing how to manipulate those really helps with the Photoshop stuff, because you can, it just opens the doors like, you know, when you work digitally, and you see your paints as pixels, it’s just a little different. Like when I had digital paints, I still think of pigment and mixing on a canvas. Whereas if you don’t have that traditional backing, I mean, I’m just I think it would be harder to produce convincing work on a computer.

Iva Mikles  

It is it is and I just started also just like a life drawing classes, because I also haven’t done that before. So Oh, excellent. So I’m like, Okay, I should do this. And I should try these and yeah, because when I started it was more like illustrate the work, you know, like logo design and characters in Illustrator, and then I move more to the Photoshop and draw the characters and environments there. So

Marco Bucci  

well, that’s interesting, because for you, you must have developed a really strong aspect of design and like your design sense. And you can totally bring that to figure drawing. I mean, I worked at the reverse I when I first started figure drawing, I had no sense of design like I said I couldn’t draw so I had nothing I had to learn like the you know, structure and form and building form and anatomy and all that academic stuff. And then Only later did I learn design you’re you’re kind of going the opposite way where you have that design which is really cool. So I’d be interested in seeing you know, how you develop in the figurative area with with a strong design sense. Yeah, for

Iva Mikles  

sure. Because I had to learn by myself because as I studied the management and design then in Denmark, I studied multimedia design, which I thought it will be more about design but it was more about programming bedsides. So I’m like, Okay, I need to learn Photoshop and Illustrator by myself so it was kind of like here and there and YouTube and online courses and yeah, and people like you and line so thank you.

Marco Bucci  

Oh, my pleasure. There’s so much so much online. It’s so crazy like I you know, if I were to be a student just starting now, I don’t I don’t know if arts if you have to go enroll in an art school. Like there’s so much online. It’s crazy.

Iva Mikles  

So you can like choose and you start you know, your Patreon, right and YouTube videos.

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, I was reluctant at first to start a Patreon because I thought I thought it was I thought that was just another way of business kind of infiltrating art. But then I actually will of course it was my wife who looked into Patreon and she He’s like, she’s like, No, you know, you’re not. You’re not beholden to any any of your patrons, they are just wanting to support you for what you already do. And once I learned that, I’m like, Oh, well, I can definitely keep doing what I’m already doing. So yeah, so we made it, we made a Patreon and I’m super flattered and humbled that anyone would want to, you know, chip in financially, so if any of my patrons are listening, thank you, sincerely.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I think it’s really cool. Because if someone just, for example, want to invite for a coffee or so that it’s like $5, for example, or euros, and they can just support you in Patreon. So, yeah, how do you find the new projects or new paid projects? Because when you started, of course, after school, then you have to build some networking. And maybe it was then how it is now?

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, okay. So starting with how it was then, like I mentioned earlier, I looked for work first in the animation industry. And I found work there. Yeah. And that was great. Because it’s like I said, it’s a regular paycheck. It’s an it’s a nine to five kind of job. So you’re not, you don’t have to worry about finding new clients. And what that time in the animation industry afforded me. A of course, is experience and a paycheck. But also it like it took that pressure off. So I could build a network over time, almost without even trying because as I put work out there on back then it was blogger bloggers dead now, but I would put work on Blogger, and also DeviantArt. And YouTube. People started finding me just through the online network, and my first few freelance jobs happened totally by accident. I was not looking for freelance work, because I was employed at the studio. Yes, it’d be people emailed me and they were, you know, would you be interested in doing a character design or color key or whatever it is they wanted me to do. So I was like, Oh, this is cool. I can work on the side and you know, make some extra cash at home while having my main job in the art industry. Then let’s fast forward, let’s say six years, I had started teaching at my first teaching role was at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, I they found me through like YouTube, I think I had some I had a bunch of clients that I was working for. And I found that I was getting more fulfillment from my freelance work than from the studio stuff. Because studio stuff tends to be pretty repetitive. I was in TV animation a lot, actually. And I just found it to be too repetitive for my liking. So I, I took the leap, I quit my job, actually, I didn’t quit, I let my contract expire. And then I didn’t renew anything. So I, after my contract expired, I left that studio. And yeah, I just like, I’m just going to do freelance and you know, if if it doesn’t work, I can always get a job back at the industry again, because, you know, I’ve worked at you know, at the time, I’ve worked at three or four animation studios, so I was not worried about going broke, raining, I can just get a job again, but But it worked out for me. And it’s not like it’s skyrocketed right away. But, you know, putting more work and work into it, I got more clients, and you try and increase your rates as you go. That’s actually if I can give myself credit for one one business thing. I knew enough to increase my rates as I went. So I started. Yeah, so I started very low. I don’t want to we’re not gonna talk numbers here, I guess. But I started at a very low hourly rate. And then pretty much as I as I realized I was working for less than minimum wage, I started raising the rates. And, and then let’s fast forward another few years, I started getting more work than I could actually handle. Now that was at that’s a good problem to have, of course, but it’s still a problem. Because I want to spend my time not on the book ending. You know, the bookkeeping part, I want to spend my time on the art part. So what I did at that point was I decided to look externally for an agent who could you know, manage all my incoming business and you know how, yeah, agents. So I, I auditioned a few agents, and almost had one misstep with one. But I found my agent that I’ve been with for, what, three, maybe four years now. And Shannon associates, kid, Shannon is the branch I’m under. So they represent me and there, they’re primarily in the print industry, they find me a lot of children’s book work, which is what I love to do the most is children’s books and illustration. So they find me a lot of illustration. Sometimes I do character design, environment design, things like that. But I’ve actually ever since my days in the animation studio, I’ve actually migrated away from the film and TV part of things to focus more on illustration because I find that as an illustrator, I get to do characters and backgrounds and finished paintings whereas in TV I was like only doing color only doing you know concept, which is they’re all cool, but I like bringing all of those to you know, to a peak.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because like also animation then you are like a background artist or layout or something like that.

Marco Bucci  

Okay, yeah, exactly. So I found I After a few years, I stagnated like I could, I can paint backgrounds now, like, I want another challenge. But, you know, good luck. If you’re in the industry, good luck switching from paint background paints to character design, you’re, they’re just not gonna let you do it. Like because they hire specialty people, right? Yeah, I

Iva Mikles  

was actually surprised to see that because I was first time on CTN last year. And when I was talking to some of the studios or people around, I was like, Yeah, we want you to be this or this. And I’m like, Yeah, I don’t want that.

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, I totally agree. So like, for some people, though, for some people, they’ll be very amenable to that, like, they’ll want to just focus. But like I said, my, if you look at my website, it’s clear that I like painting the whole thing, you know, so an illustrator is just the best way for me to go. Yeah. How, by the way, how do you like CTN? Yeah, I’ve never been no, oh, my God. You know, I know. I know. And

Iva Mikles  

I really like the atmosphere. Because you had so many workshops, you can meet so many people. And basically, you can feel the days with lots of

Marco Bucci  

that’s really cool. Yeah, I got I mean, I’ve been to many conventions, but I have not been to CTN. I’ve got to make my way over to California, Los Angeles. Right. that were there. So yeah. in Burbank,

Iva Mikles  

I think Yeah. Burbank. Okay.

Marco Bucci  

Well, one day I’ll make it out there. Yeah. So it’s a little a little harder when you live in Europe.

Iva Mikles  

That’s true. But there’ll be something in Amsterdam and Berlin. There is some convention, I think in September. Oh,

Marco Bucci  

really? Oh, I’ll look into that. I because Berlin is very close to me here. So

Iva Mikles  

because I was just doing research now maybe which one I should go to. So yeah, Berlin might be interesting for you too. Because yeah, I will

Marco Bucci  

definitely look into it. Yeah. Cool. Cool. And

Iva Mikles  

also, what I wanted to like ask you about it was as well, when you are mentioning different projects? Like how do you combine your income sources? Or do you have different incomes built into one? Or do you have one main?

Marco Bucci  

So my main source of income is freelancing. Is that what you’re what you’re asking? Oh, yeah. So yeah, so my job like my day job is a freelancer. So I try and keep my schedule as full as possible. And, you know, with with the agents, with clients, I’ve already established before I got the agent, I’m, I’m pretty slammed, I’m thankful for it. But I’m booked 100% of the time. I mean, obviously, some days, I’ll be extremely busy. And some days, I won’t, you know, some weeks, I won’t have that much. But I always, you know, I’m thankful to always have a pretty full workload, pretty full schedule. And like I said, I’ve met I’ve tried, I’m trying to manage that schedule. So I can still remember to go outside and paint just for myself. So I need that. In terms of like passive income, like income I put out, I have produced many videos that I sell online, like I have an online store, have you know about my YouTube channel, which has tons of free content, just because I love to teach. But you can follow links from there to my online store and my Gumroad account, for example, where I sell longer, like more like not sped up painting videos are more fundamental videos. So I guess that’s passive income, because I made them a few years ago, and I’m continuing to sell those. And I do plan to make more in fact that actually, I just bought this. I just bought a GoPro camera. And it hooks up to my watercolor easel. Yeah, so I started filming, I started filming my plein air paintings outdoors. And I’ll be releasing those just like each video will just be one painting. And my goal is to just to price those very low. Because they’re, you know, just short little paintings, but hopefully will help people as well. But I don’t want to flood my YouTube channel with it. So So yeah, so I guess I keep a passive income source that way, Patreon helps for that as well. And that kind of thing just really helps me continue to make the educational content, which I also love to do, but you can’t always find the time for

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, but it’s really cool. It will be in the show notes under the video. So. And yes, of course, like we we need to support each other. So I think it’s really cool. And yeah, yeah, I know what I wanted to ask you as well. It was what are the most exciting projects right now? Or upcoming ones? What do you want to share?

Marco Bucci  

Ah, well, there’s three dirty letters called NDA. Which means I, the one I’m most excited about right now I can’t actually talk about but it’s a I mean, it’s a book and illustrated book. And it’s going to allow me to paint let’s call it not photo real but photographic, but still Painterly. That’s, that’s the intended style. And if it all goes well, it will be seen by a very large audience. So that is what I’m excited about. Now. I wish I could tell you more I’m sorry to be cryptic, but I believe I’m legally binded and I can’t talk about it. But other than that, though, I’m really excited about some of my own projects and you know, projects that you aren’t paying me anything. Just, I have some stories. I want to tell that if you look behind me I have a corkboard there. Yeah, that’s I’m mapping out just stories that I that are floating around in my head. Oh, cool. So I’m hoping that there’s a there’s a few stories on there. So I’m hoping that one or one or two of those I can put into my own production schedule soon. I’ve been planning my own children’s book for example with with that green monster character. I’m just deciding which direction to go with that if I should try and get it commercially published, like through a publisher, or should I maybe try Kickstarter that self published or something like that? I’m not sure. So I’m excited about those two.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, super cool. Yeah. That’s really nice. Looking forward to see some of your new books.

Marco Bucci  

Oh, yeah. Well, I’m books are books are really expensive to produce. And I’m, I’m not sure when I’ll do another one, to be honest is so a children’s book, obviously, would be a book. But some but more and more. I’m like, just publish the stories online, like just have it on an online interface. I’m experimenting with that, too. I haven’t made any concrete decisions. And I do love the physical book. Like I love that stuff. So I might go to the book route. I’m not sure

Iva Mikles  

if because I actually heard that you can self publish on Amazon kind of like ready to order. But I’m not sure how it is with a picture books. Because if you don’t have any images, it’s easier to kind of order it. And I think you pay per page somehow when people order it. So you actually produce ebook. And when someone ordered it, then they print it out and send it

Marco Bucci  

rarely. So they print. Like if someone orders one book, they print one book, and

Iva Mikles  

I’m not sure about the details, or what is the volume, but I saw that I heard it in one of the podcasts. So there is that option. But yeah, I think that needs to be more researched how

Marco Bucci  

it works. Well. Yeah, that sounds really interesting. I’ll have to look into that. Because one of the things that I don’t like is, you know, having my basement full of like, 1000 print run of books. Yeah. Which is cool. Like, it’s cool to have that. But like, you know, like you said, I’ve put out three books now. And like, obviously, you’re not going to sell 1000 books in quite a while. Right. So like, my basement has boxes of books, and I, I’d rather not have to carry that kind of stock. So you know, if Amazon offers a solution, I’ll look into that.

Iva Mikles  

Do you have a favorite book you would share with others? Like someone needs to read this? Of course on the side of your books? Because that’s for sure.

Marco Bucci  

Oh, well, I I would say that. Oh, man. So I love to read and I have a million books I recommend but in terms of art, if there’s one art book I could recommend, it’s it’s called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Okay, it’s a very small but it actually that book largely inspired the book I wrote not not the content, but like, the physical quality of it. It’s a very short book. It’s about let’s say it’s 100 pages. It’s very, it’s like pocket size. You can read it. I read it in for in like, a couple hours. I was I was waiting for my wife. She was at some interview and I like I read the whole book, like while I was waiting for. And since then I’ve read it like two more times. And then I downloaded the audiobook and I listened to it. So that book has been very influential. Steven Steven Pressfield is a writer. He writes a lot of fiction. He wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance, for example. People know that, because movie but and he’s wrote tons more. And he just he he has a way of looking at the art process that’s very like sober. It’s there’s nothing magical about it, which is exactly how I see it. So it’s almost like Chicken Soup for the Soul when I read his book, but because he’s a professional writer, which is really to say he’s a professional thinker. He really is. He’s really boiled things down into very digestible language that clarified a lot of my own thoughts. Yeah. So so well, in the book, I wrote about creativity. I didn’t plagiarize any of his stuff, or at least I hope I didn’t. But he really inspired me to think a lot deeper and more clearly about what you believe in terms of how creativity works. Yeah. Because so that’s the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s

Iva Mikles  

good. I will put it in the show notes as well. And you like to write as well. So you are writing your own books? Or do you have someone transcribing your text?

Marco Bucci  

Yeah. I mean, I’m a hobbyist writer. I’m definitely not a professional writer, but I do I love language, I love to read. I love what you can do with language. It’s very different than then pictures. I just like how you can you know, I really respect writers who can think about something beyond what most people do and then and then actually communicated in text. So like, for me, it’s a joy to write my YouTube lessons, because that’s, that’s very much writing. I start with a script, okay, I just spend hours on the script. So I have all the jokes and everything kind of mapped out in a script form and then I produce it, you know, in video, but yeah, so whenever I write I write my own stuff. And I’m hoping to do more of that, like the, you know, planning stuff in the background I just showed you. I really hope to do more of that. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

yeah. Cool. Yeah. Because I mean, I am terrible at writing. So that’s like, well, congrats.

Marco Bucci  

Well, me too. I mean, it’s writing is writing, it’s hard because the first time, I mean, it’s kind of like drawing but writing is weird, because you might like I challenge anyone watching this, if you’re if you haven’t written before, you might think you have thoughts in your head, but try writing them down and see how garbled they are actually are. And what you do then is edit, edit, edit, edit. And editing is where you find clarity. And you actually in finding that clarity, I find you adjust your you sharpen your own thinking, and you do it right on the page is this really cool interface that you have with the written word on the page? It’s like, your thoughts are there and you can like literally sculpt them on the page. And for me, that’s, that’s another that’s another way of painting. Really?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And is there something which simplifies your life when you’re creating either the drawings or writing some kind of product what you bought maybe?

Marco Bucci  

Well, I mean, I don’t know if this answered your I still love my old, my tablet. Yeah, I’ve had this tablet for seven, eight years. Now. I don’t use a Cintiq or anything. I love this little tablet because I can carry it wherever I go. So when I’m at home, it sits on my desk. You know, it’s funny. This is hilarious. So okay, this is my desk. Yeah. So can you see the monitor? There’s a Cintiq there. So it’s a no, no, that monitor that you’re seeing there. That’s a “beep” LCD screen. But that monitor is a Cintiq, the newest Cintiq. That’s the newest Cintiq. I hate it so much, that I only I only use it as a monitor. I really love it as a monitor. But I prefer this, I prefer this $200 piece of junk to the $4,000 Cintiq that I currently have sitting as a monitor right now. I love how I love how small and portable it is. I like them. It has like a stickiness to it. Like there’s a stickiness, which reminds me of oil paints or gloss paint or something. And I love that I can do anything from a quick sketch like a line drawing to a fully finished painting just on this one thing. I also like how it allows me to sit back from the computer screen. Because with a Cintiq you’re you know, you’re up like yeah, you’re just there. I feel like your eyes are frying inside their sockets. I don’t like that.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because I have seen thick as well. And sometimes when it gets super hot, then your hand starts to beat.

Marco Bucci  

And it gets all clammy and sweaty. I know. I don’t like I’m not a Cintiq person. I don’t like the Cintiq I think they’re really cool products like the technology is awesome. And I I bought that one thinking I would love it. I and I said I do love it as a very high quality monitor, but not as a drawing interface.

Iva Mikles  

Because I have both and I also have the Intuos and Cintiq. So I kind of swap in between most of the time and drawing on a Cintiq then I sometimes go to traditional and then when I’m traveling as well I take into us, which I guess that’s what you have, right?

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, but it’s an Intuos three. Yeah, yeah. Perfect. So like, what’s what’s Intuos? Do you have like the really small one?

Iva Mikles  

I think it’s four, four are the Intuos four. Okay, yeah.

Marco Bucci  

So this is I’m still on the three but I love the Intuos line. That was my first The first product I ever bought like a drawing product. That was that and I still love it. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Because sometimes people are wondering what they should start with and kind of what would you recommend to start with?

Marco Bucci  

Yeah, I would say start as cheaply as you can. But you know, I mean, don’t get I really recommend the product. The Wacom Wacom whatever you call it, the Wacom family of products because that to me, they’re just the best products out there. But you can start with the bamboo which is their their opening line of tablets, I believe. And I think there are other ones now I haven’t kept up with it, but I think there’s like the art draw or something like that. But you know, the Intuos is awesome. Like I said, I still use the Intuos and and then you can work your way up to a Cintiq it’s kind of like you know, you want to drive you want to beat up an old Honda before you get a Ferrari.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And from traditional tools. Do you have some favorite one?

Marco Bucci  

Well, I so when I paint outside in a small sketchbook, I use I really like the most the most Skyline or moleskin whatever you call it, a watercolor book. Those are that’s very nice paper it takes it takes a beating with water. without buckling, that’s very good. But when I paint, and I use just any old brush I can because the sketches are so small that the brushes don’t need to be that high quality. So just a bunch of rounds or flats really I use my old brushes from my studio when I travel. But when I travel with a larger watercolor setup, like the videos I’m filming now are my easel watercolor setup with the that’s 12 by 16 inch so it’s a little larger. I need higher quality for that so I use I like Saunders 140 pound cold pressed paper. And I like brushes from A company called a Skoda. For me, they just make. Yeah, they’re, they’re based in Spain. So in Europe, we can get them pretty easily, actually just ordered a batch from from their warehouse just yesterday. So because I like with watercolor I find, for me, I really need a sharp point. So I get round brushes, because with a round brush, they have a sharp tip. But it’s also a tapers wider at the base. Yeah, so you could get a thick stroke or a or a very thin stroke with just one brush. And I keep my coat my materials very high quality when it comes to watercolor. And I just use Windsor Newton paint.

Iva Mikles  

Okay, because I need to still try. So that’s all I need to pick your brain.

Marco Bucci  

What should I try? Yeah, yeah, so if you’re, my recommendation is, if you’re painting in a small sketchbook, just get get a very small palette of like, you can even use dry color, I don’t use dry color I use, I use a small palette that I squeezed wet watercolor onto and I let that wet watercolor dry on the palate. And then the cool thing with watercolor is you just take a spray bottle and spray those watercolors and they come back to life on the palate. So you can do that too. And then I also recommend when you’re outdoors sketching is bring along some white gloss paint. Because often times this, the watercolor watercolor is not the best for really small studies, you sometimes need a bit of opacity, and GWAS really, really helps that so whenever you see a sketchbook study of mine, there’s always some guasha in it, too. But and I achieve squashed by, like I said, whitewash mixed with watercolor will get you basically quash. Okay, yeah, it’s really cool. Anyway, I could go on for days about painting. Yeah, because

Iva Mikles  

I don’t want to keep you too long here. So that’s why I wanted to as well like ask about the future. Where do you see yourself like in five years? Or what will be your goal, like five to 10 years of imaging, you cannot fail? This is where I’m going to

Marco Bucci  

be. Alright. Okay. Well, I mean, I’d like to think I approach it as if I could not fail anyway. Although I do if I do fail, but you know, you approach it as if you can’t, I would, I would say like in five years, it’d be very, it’d be I would be happy with myself, if I were able to produce a lot of my personal projects in five years. I mean, I’ve produced personal, I have produced my personal projects up till this point. But I would like to get to the point where maybe I could do a little less freelance and a little more personal stuff. Because like I said, I have so many story ideas, and like, you just can’t do them. All right, you have to focus on kind of one at a time. Maybe be cool to get to the point where I could take on some freelance work that would maybe pay me enough that I could maybe dedicate half the week to just my personal work, that’d be really cool. So if in five years, I’m doing that, or maybe maybe in five years, I can just do my personal work, that would be awesome. I would think that if I had to define success, not maybe this would take more than five years, but success for me, is being able to just do my personal work and be fully compensated as if I were working for clients. So that would be amazing.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So you need to build more passive income that Yeah.

Marco Bucci  

My wife tells me that that too, and we’re working on it.

Iva Mikles  

That’s super cool. I mean, I would love to see that because all of your books are super cool. So thanks so much. It’d be nice to inspire more people. And I wanted to ask you as well, like, Is there something you wish you knew before you started your career?

Marco Bucci  

Oh, that’s a good question. I would say, I wish I knew that. Yeah, I would say I wish I knew that getting a job is not the end goal. Because Because I think for me, and I think for a lot of students and people starting out the job is the success defining thing. But really, you get disillusioned. Sorry, you get disabused of that very quickly. I think when you actually work in the art industry, the job is not the goal. Jobs are nice, because they pay your bills, but like paying your bills is not why you were alive. Right? Yeah, you’re, you’re I mean, we are artists, because we love to paint and paying your bills is not the same thing. So while it’s while it’s nice to be able to pay your bills with art, I’d say that, I wish I knew that. Really, just happiness comes from being able to go outside and paint. And, you know, I think that I can remember where I heard this. I think it was on the Joe Rogan podcast. If I can buy if I can afford to buy myself a nice meal and maybe have some savings. That’s financially that’s that’s what I’m looking for. I’m not looking to be a millionaire. I’m just looking to be able to live comfortably enough where I can go travel to, you know, Zurich, and have a weekend in Zurich, while not so much worrying about it. And that will allow me to go out there and paint and explore what it is that makes me happy. And that’s what I wish I knew 15 years ago, rather than being so dogmatic about oh, I got to work at Pixar and 10 years or I’m a failure. That’s really not what it’s like.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because it was also in the book four hour workweek, where he talked about its new rich, if you’re a millionaire, you never have time to actually enjoy your money. So this is kind of how you balance your life that you can still have like free time, and you have enough money to do what you want. So

Marco Bucci  

Oh, no. So I have been meaning to read that book. But it’s cool to know that there’s some parallel thinking there.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely read it. That’s a good one. Well, yeah, I’ve been meaning to. She also did a new one, which is called tools of the Titans. So he, he’s kind of combining like learnings. Oh, cool. Well, who is the author of Tim Ferriss? Hopefully embarrassed. Oh, and he and he has

Marco Bucci  

a podcast? Yeah, I have heard Tim Ferriss podcast on a bunch of road trips. And I really enjoy it. So I got to check out his book. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So that’s, I would like to end with the the question about like, how would you like to be remembered in 100 years?

Marco Bucci  

Who? I have to be honest, I’ve I’ve never asked myself that question. So I guess I don’t have an answer for you. But if I’m if I’m making one up on the spot here, it would be a huge bonus. If anyone is still looking at my art in 100 years, did you say 100 years or 10? years? Yeah, 100 100. I will be dust. I will be eaten and pooped out by many animals in 100 years, and probably my art will be too. But hey, if people are still looking at my art and 100 years, that’s incredible. And I would say that would be the ultimate success anyone could ever obtain. So like, you know, someone like John Singer Sargent, we’re still admiring his work. In fact, in fact, this weekend, I’ll be in Edinburgh, Scotland for my first time, and I’m going to see my one of my favorite paintings ever, which is Lady Agnew by John Singer Sargent. And, you know, if, if I could possibly reach that level, that would be ungodly. Cool. But that’s not why I’m doing it, though. You know, I’m just doing it, like I said, to keep myself happy and live a good life.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And what would be your favorite quote? Do you have a favorite quote?

Marco Bucci  

Well, I, I keep saying I’m like, No, I don’t really sorry, I don’t mean to be a downer. I have a quote that just popped into my head just now. And I can’t I, I can’t remember who said it. But it was a writer, and I’ll have to get you the name. So we can credit this quote, properly. But the basically the quote was, all the first draft has to do is exist. So again, all the first draft has to do is exist, it just you just have to pull it into existence. You don’t, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Doesn’t have to be like the masterpiece that you have, hopefully, in your head. It’s because it’s so true that we think that, oh, I have this amazing idea. It has to come out beautifully and perfectly the first time but that’s that’s completely not how creativity works. So that quote, I’ll get you the author’s name, but that that quote by that author, she was talking about writing, I think it’s I think she she was talking about writing, but it’s so applicable to arts and anything. Yeah, the first draft, it just has to exist.

Iva Mikles  

It’s really nice to kind of end the discussion with this quote, I think it’s really cool. So people shouldn’t be afraid to just produce something and put it out there.

Marco Bucci  

Absolutely pre produce it, and then edit it, make it better. But the first draft just has to be on paper, and then you can go from there.

Iva Mikles  

So thank you so much for being here. And everyone for joining us.

Marco Bucci  

Oh, thank you. I’ve had such a great time talking to you. And I’m humbled that I’m among your first few guests on your podcast and I wish you all the best with your work and and I’m not kidding. If I’m ever in Zurich, or you’re ever in Munich. Let’s let’s meet each other and have a coffee. Sure. Thank you so much. And thanks, everyone for listening to this. I appreciate your time.

Iva Mikles  

Hope you guys enjoyed this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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