Revealing the unseen: Interview with artist Marc Scheff

Originally featured in issue 16 of Create! Magazine

Marc Scheff is an award-winning New York City artist known for his unique dimensional conceptual portraits in layers of resin.  

How did you get involved in art and how did you get to this point in your art career? 

Im not unusual in a sense that Ive always been interested in art. I always attribute my start to the pharmaceutical industry because my dad is a pediatrician and my mom was pursuing her Masters degree and I would often go in to work with my dad. He would let me hang around his office and there were loads of pens and pads and things with pharmaceutical charts. I would use all those materials to sit and draw all day when my dad was working. So thanks to Big Pharma! 

Eventually, I pursued a career in the tech industry, but was taking art classes after work when I was in San Francisco. I loved it and soon I was taking classes every night and every weekend.  

At one point, I was very lucky to have a boss that laid me off and encouraged me to follow my interest in art making. The severance packages I received from being laid off ended up being a down payment for art school! 

How did you make the decision to pursue your art? What went into making this decision? 

Im very lucky that I can make the decisions about what opportunities to pursue and which ones to move on from. I feel fortunate that my wife supported my decision to leave my day job. 

I still have other gigs like teaching, running a gallery, and freelancing.  

What advice would you give artist who wants to take the leap and become self-employed?  

The first question I ask someone who wants to become self-employed is are you sure you want to do that?” The freelance life is not for everyone. There is a lot of uncertainty and you have to be ok with not knowing where the next gig will come from. If you have a job that you enjoy that supports your art practice you want to be very careful when considering this transition.  

People may assume that I stay at home and paint all the time, but thats not me. I do lots of other things. I still have other gigs like teaching, running an art gallery, and freelancing. I have a safety net because of the other creative work and the fact that my wife has a second income really allows for me to take these risks.  

I also enjoy having multiple projects to focus on. If a painting isnt going well I can work on a blog post or something else. I love the idea of productive procrastination. Ill start a painting, walk away from it and Ill still be working on it in the back of my head while doing something else.   

What has your art been about lately? 

The art that we make has to come from our perspective. We cant paint from someone elses experiences.  

When I first started working with resin, I was looking to get in touch with an emotional quality. Unlike illustration, the work isnt about narrative, so I have to achieve this with basic color and composition.  

Using the reference photos that I take, I look for an image that gives me that gut punch. I may take a few hundred pictures to get that one moment that Im after.  

The challenge for me right now is celebrating the voices of the members of our society that may have been traditionally misrepresented, not to tell the story from their perspective in a way that celebrates them. Traditionally Ive painted a lot of women. Im working on a bigger scale to share the strength and the struggle that women face in our world and expand those ideas in order to tell more layers of the story.  

Using resin, there is a physical layering that relates to the emotional layering of that experience. Its a very tricky thing to share these stories in a way thats authentic to me and respectful to the individuals Im painting about. I dont want to mansplain in my work. I have to come from my perspective and use my work to share how much I admire the stories without any desire to own them or be a part of them.  

Whats coming up next for you? 

I'll be at Superfine Fair DC in October and will be in a two-person show with Abend Gallery in the Scope Fair during Basel week in Miami! 

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What will yours do for you?

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Curator's Picks of Faces & Figures II!

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 Hannah Debson

"This piece is a direct reflection on the connection between art and fashion.
Photographers are sometimes forced to pick between art or editorial style photographs when in reality, the two can merge and function cohesively. There is a want for editorial style photographs to transition into gallery exhibitions and the contemporary art world."

Elisa Valenti Body Positive Art

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View the collection

Curatorial Statement:

After spending most of 2020 indoors within the confines of our homes, we feel a collective longing for both nature and connection. These are two themes that are inherently a part of the artists’ works that I’ve selected for this curation. Some present the human form intertwined with or immersed in a landscape or other natural environment, while others compose images with figures alongside animals, flowers, and insects. Working in the mediums of collage and painting, these artists remind us to appreciate the profound beauty of our surroundings and of the importance of having respect for it now and in the years to come. 

These works of art also act as a record and documentation of life as an artist during the pandemic. While they, like everyone else, experienced loss, grief, anxiety, frustration, and fear - like nature itself, they also went through periods of growth and renewal. For me, bringing together this collection of artists is a manifestation of the belief that 2021 will indeed allow for more opportunities to connect with the environment, ourselves, and each other. It’s a sigh of relief, or rather, a breath of fresh air.

Featured Artists:

Austin Howlett
Emily Mullet
Erin McGean
Heather Polk
Kestin Cornwall
Mia Risberg
Shachi Kale
Sophia Tristan
Twiggy Boyer

Shop available artwork directly on the SHOWFIELDS website

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Shop available sculptures by Jenna Morello!