Marcus Tomlinson: fashion, film and exploring

Marcus Tomlinson: fashion, film and exploring

By NellFrizzellIdeasTap 04/07/14

Following his work with designers Issey Miyake, Gareth Pugh and Hussein Chalayan, Marcus Tomlinson has now created an installation, Multiverse, for online gallery Paynes and Bothwick. We caught up with him to discuss chopping wood and the dilution of film...

Hello Marcus. How are you?

I feel very lucky at the moment; I’ve been working outside making these sculptures. I’ve been given a lot of trees that came down during the winter so I’ve been carving away. They’re quite large pieces, so I’ve been using cranes and things.

You were one of the pioneers of the fashion film – bringing together digital technology, fashion and film. What was your first computer? What programmes were you using back then?

It had all literally just come off tapes. These machines were ridiculously expensive when I was in the realms of playing with them. It was almost pre-Mac. The commercial markets that have the money are the driving force; they’re ahead of artists to some degree. So you had to tease these people into giving up hours of their time to do something artistic. But, to an extent, they wanted to play with their new equipment too. 

Do you still have to get tech-savvy people to play with you?

I find it harder now – money plays a different role. When you want specialist skills, those people have less time. Also, when you’re working with an organisation there is a trust element involved. You’re playing in a commercial market.

That’s why I love working with wood – I don’t have to bother with any people. Whatever I do is what I do. It’s a different world.

You seem to be attracted to liminal spaces – the places between disciplines, to gardens, to parks. Is that why you like the idea of a virtual, online gallery?

It’s an addiction I’ve always had – the search for the unexplored. I’m from a family of explorers; they were travelling around Africa behind [David] Livingstone and people like that. So I suppose I’ve always shied from anything that I feel has already been done.

[Still from Aeroplane Dress, produced and directed by Marcus Tomlinson, Fashion by Hussein Chalayan]

How do you see the relationship between film and fashion these days?

People like Hussein Chalayan, Christian Lacroix and Issey Miyake wanted to represent their work in museums and galleries all over the world. So I made fashion films that weren’t part of the fashion world, but part of the museum world.

Now people are able to do things on their phones, so film plays a different game in society. Everything started to dilute. The first film that I did was on a movie camera with negative film in it. That’s almost unheard of – you really need a budget for that. Now everyone’s jumping on that because technology has made it so easy. It’s become a popular, rather than novel, process.

Multiverse, however, involved very clever people; it’s not something that just anybody could pick up and do.

You’ve worked with some amazing people. Are you good at networking?

It’s my Achilles heel. I’m too busy focusing on the complex world I build in the creative process. Most of what I do has great stories in it, beyond what people want to know and hear. In fact, the fine details I play with are probably a nightmare for most people. But they take up too much of my mind for me to then go out there and market myself.

Do you have any advice for young artists?

Along the journey you will hear a lot of praise; be very wary of it. When you’re selling a piece of work a lot of people will tell you it’s amazing, and that’s a good energy to pick up on. But the real praise is actually being happy with what you do.



Stills from “Multiverse” created by Marcus Tomlinson for

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