Meet the Members: Mark King

This month's "Meet the Member" features Illustrator Mark King, who designed our coat of arms on the Studio wall. He can consume his own weight in Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice-cream, and is learning to create clay sculptures.

Tell us a little about yourself and why you come to Unicorn Studios?

I am a freelance illustrator, who enjoys creating both hand-drawn and digital art. My work is usually focused on fictitious characters, mythological creatures, and folklore. My illustration style is an expression of my personality, and not just a professional activity. I can struggle with allowing my artwork to be used in a commercial context because I feel so attached to what I create. 

I am a member of Unicorn Studios because I met the founders at the university’s Waterfront Studios, whilst studying Graphic Design. When it shut down I needed an alternative working environment, so I was delighted when Rob and Steve decided to set up a co-working space. 

Five years on, I’m still there, despite inflicting pain on other members, with my bad jokes. I see this as getting my money's worth!

What was your first job?

My first job was working part-time as a Customer Service Assistant at Wilko Retail while I was studying Graphic Design at university. Prior to this I really struggled with speaking to anyone I didn’t know. 

I have always felt awkward, and unable to express my opinions out of fear that I would be misunderstood. Working in a customer service role, despite being challenging, helped me to grow in confidence, and become more comfortable in social environments.

What work accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of finishing the Coat of Arms for Unicorn Studios as it bears our motto - Create, Unite, Inspire. It has pride of place on the main Studio wall, and is often commented on by visitors.

In the beginning, it was challenging to design the unicorns as my skills at drawing horses were definitely not the best. But despite that, the biggest challenge with this commission was choosing the right words for our Studio motto. It needed to be something that embodied the core principles of our Studio while being short and effective. It helped brainstorming ideas with other members, and everybody got to be a part in the creation of what is effectively our Studios identity.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Definitely a night owl! When I was a kid, my parents would send me to bed, and I would secretly draw or watch TV, with the volume down really low, until I felt ready to sleep in the early hours.

Whilst studying Art and Design at college, I discovered that my creative ideas flow better at night, while everything is quiet. I don’t have the noise of everyday activity distracting me.

What’s one of your favourite memories this year?

When I left home, and moved into my first flat, my parents kindly let me take my bed. Although it was nice having something familiar in a new environment, I started getting an itch for a change, a few months ago. 

Purchasing my bed was very spontaneous, within an hour of searching through various designs, it was ordered. This impulsive decision making is out of character. Normally, I’m slow to embrace change, and am very methodical. Being so decisive, and impulsive felt fun and liberating. I hope to have more moments like this!

What is your hidden talent?

Whilst my creativity is generally expressed through illustration, I am also quite good at painting in acrylics too. It has been quite a while since I painted on a canvas, but for me it's just like riding a bicycle, you never really forget it.

What’s something you’re planning on doing in the next year that you’ve never done before?

I plan to make some clay sculptures, as I have been recently inspired by YouTube and Instagram artists’ models of animals, and godlike figurines. 

I am really fascinated by their creative processes, and would love to develop my own techniques. I’ve already purchased the tools, and some of the materials, but I’m still exploring different sculpting methods before embarking on my first project.

If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?

I would love to become an animator! Although illustration is my passion, a lot of the time I find myself yearning to bring the characters I draw to life.

I’ve always had a soft spot for animation. I grew up watching stop motion Disney and Aardman films on repeat because I was fascinated by how they were able to create such life-like movements.

I particularly admire the creators of Wallace and Gromit, and movies by Laika Studios

When working what is your guilty pleasure?

Rewarding myself with lots of gingernut biscuits, and a tub of my favourite Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice-cream, even though I haven’t ticked off the things from my to-do-list.

What three people would be your fantasy coworkers at Unicorn studios? And why?

I’ve really struggled with this question because I enjoy my own company, and it can be difficult to work alongside other creatives.

However, after much consideration, if I had to choose, they would be:

Molly Crabapple - She is an American artist and writer. Her Puppet Makers comic book inspired my illustration work during College. I became obsessed with drawing 18th Century French aristocrats.

Steve Simpson - He is a Dublin based illustrator who is renowned for his hand lettering, and character designs, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, and 50’s advertising. He was one of the first artists to adopt the new Affinity software, and his sponsorship inspired me to try it for myself. It would be great to have some one-to-one tutorials!

Mike Mignola - He is an American comic book artist, best known for writing and illustrating the Hell Boy comics. I took a shine to his method of blocky shaped characters, and use of shadows to create a sense of intensity, and focus.

Would you rather be a tiny unicorn or a giant hamster?

I would rather be a giant hamster because I would stand less chance of becoming part of the food chain, and I would munch on Skyscrapers.

Instagram - @marking.pen

Benefits of joining Unicorn Studios


Work-life balance

Cost effective


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