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Artist Interview: Raoul Marks

Meet Raoul Marks, just one of our hidden talents lurking in the Magic Johnston corridors. His background in film and television led him to motion design and production, where he now rules the field as a freelancer. Most notably, Raoul won an Emmy for the True Detective opening credits. Not bad at all. We wrangled a quick Q&A out of him, in between his globe trottin’.

Describe your practice and what led you to this creative path.

I work in film and television in a number of areas. Predominantly this takes the form of motion design and production. Sometimes that means building and animating title sequences, other times its editing and sound design. I work predominantly for a company called Elastic based in L.A. They’re well known for their titles work for HBO shows like Carnivale and Game of Thrones.

I’d been a graphic designer for a number of years before I started to get pretty interested in the emerging motion design industry. This relatively new career path seemed to be a good way to mix my design background with an interest in story telling and motion. I started what felt like a rather daunting career switch at the time, and began learning some new skills along the way.

I was particularly interested in the potential overlap of politics and motion design. I’d made a short film called ‘Spring’ that explored aesthetics associated with the Arab Spring. This put me in connection with Patrick Clair who had come from a film/design background and had been making visual explainers for ABC’s Hungry Beast. Our similar aesthetic and interest in that combination of geo-politics and design put us in good place to work together. I’ve been working with Pat, who is now a director out at Elastic LA, ever since.

Let’s talk about the Emmy you won. How was the awards experience and how has winning shaped your career since then?

We were incredibly lucky to get the chance to make the titles for True Detective. Pat and I were in Sydney at the time. Jennifer Sofio Hall at Elastic got in touch with a chance to pitch on a new HBO series. Job offers like that don’t come by very often. It felt rather unreal to be making those titles in a tiny little hot shoebox of a studio in Chippendale.  

The quality of the show and its deserving praise was amazing exposure for us. We didn’t have any idea it was going to blow up quite as much as it did. Being awarded the Emmy for the titles was an amazing climax to what had been a quite surreal and humbling year.

Where do you keep the Emmy? How often do you gaze at it?

My wife, Annika, I think is duly wary of it all going to my head … I had to insist it wasn’t used as a door stop, so as compromise the gong now sits on the bottom rung of the book shelf. Fair enough I think.


Dream project or client?

Pat and I often joke about doing one of those classic opening sequences for a James Bond film. That’d be pretty great.

I’d absolutely love to work with Ridley Scott or Jonathan Glazer. Under the Skin was one of the most brilliant and lasting films i’ve seen in a long time.

You’ve worked abroad as well as locally. How does Melbourne’s creative landscape compare?

I haven’t worked with any Melbourne peeps as of yet so its a little hard to say, but it seems to be a really buzzing and fertile creative area. It seems harder to define compared to Sydney, which has more high profile studios. But everyone I meet here has some form of creative output so its very encouraging. Everyone knows everyone, so it feels very collegiate.

Theres a great motion graphic meet up at Loop Bar organised by the lovely Simon Bronson. I’ve met some really great folk there and seen some very talented people run through their work. I also did a piece about my Semi-Permanent titles with Katia Pase for Desktop Magazine. They’re great and good to see they’re interested in the motion category as well.

Now you’re a Melburnian, what’s your most loved haunt?

So many to choose from! Mostly to do with my stomach. Phams Kitchen and Elementary are great. I’ve seen a few gigs a the Tote, which feels like a good old grimy authentic Melbourne music pub.

How did you find Magic Johnston and what do you love most about the space?

It seems everyone in Melbourne knows about MJ. I think after the fifth person told me I should check it out I actually took note and gave Mia a call.

Best thing would have to be the chilled out lovely people here, everyone is busy with some exotic, creative endeavour but always happy to have a chat.

Quick! Name the first three things you see pinned to your studio wall:

A small version of an etching I have at home by Dean Brown and a still from Sean Gladwell’s work … then A Michael Andrews’ painting titled, Melanie and Me Swimming. 

Best advice for a new freelance artist?

I always feel a little presumptuous handing out advice. I think it’s been a mix of good luck, geekery and going to art school that got me here.

I would say making some personal work purely for yourself and showing that to the world is a good way to get work on the kind of things you’d like to make. In simpler terms, make the work you want other people to ask you to make.