Marco Bucci is a professional artist with years of experience in the film, TV, game, and print industries – primarily as a concept artist and illustrator. He is also an experienced instructor with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Marco currently runs his own e-commerce business, selling his personal art prints, published books, curated workshops, and more.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in suburban Canada (a town just north of Toronto,) and I am happy and lucky that my childhood was mostly a good one. I had friends all along the street, and we played pretty much every game you could imagine. I think all of one’s childhood experiences help shape life as an adult, so in that sense, there were too many experiences to list!
In terms of art, however, some moments and feelings have directly made their way into my illustrations. Games of hide and seek, the feel of summer’s warm light, the energy of a kid at play … that kind of thing. Those are all memories I have of my own life. I invented that Green Monster character (who appears in many of my paintings) because I needed an icon that could represent the imagination of a child. Once I found that green furry guy, I knew it would inspire many paintings related to childhood.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That the only way to get really good at something is to do it wrong, then correct yourself the next time. And then repeat that process many, many times over. I’m describing what some would call ‘failure’ here. Failure, to me, isn’t just OK – it’s quite literally the most effective way to learn. That may not be true for a heart surgeon. But it’s true for an artist.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I’ve heard people say it’s hard to make money in this industry. In a way, the caution is warranted, but I think telling a young, budding artist that is a good way to turn them off. Instead, I’d rather tell someone about the work they’ll have to do to become good … but if they can persevere and get there, the industry really opens up and there are so many opportunities.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I never really had anything I can classify as ‘dark’, and I feel lucky to say that. I’m generally in good mental health and have typically been able to put measures in place to foster that (even when I did not know I was doing it!) For example, I’ve always loved to practice and get better at something incrementally. I’m a slow(ish) learner, but I tend to be thorough, and I enjoy the time it takes to really dig into things deeply. I’ve done that with music, with art, with woodworking, with working out, etc. Once I find something I like, I don’t mind the idea that it’ll take years to get even remotely good at it. But, just as importantly, that the thrill isn’t being one day good, it’s the revelations you have along the way.
So to circle back to the question, it’s not that I’ve never had any bad days (there’ve certainly been many), but I’ve never really had a dark ‘period’ of time … at least not one that I can recall, sitting here today.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Actually, the precise stuff I said in question 4!
What is your morning routine?
I’m usually up around 7. If I can sleep in, I love to get up at 8. These days my daughter doesn’t really let me do that, though. So when I get up I’ll hang out with my family until about 8:45, at which point my wife goes to work and I drop my daughter off at daycare. Then usually I come home and do some kind of exercise: a run, a bike, some weights … maybe even some VR boxing! That brings me to about 10:00, when I make a quick breakfast, a coffee, and get to work. 10:00 is kind of late to get working, and I’m still getting used to it. Before my daughter was born, though, I’d be up at 7, do my workout by 8:30, and at work by 9.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I guess (as I said above), I just do it. And I don’t mean to be glib there. I just get down to it and don’t make excuses for myself. I start painting in the morning, working on my various projects, and that repetitive act builds and maintains momentum, which is what an artist needs to be productive. I always feel ‘cold’ in the morning, and the first things I do are usually slow or forced, or clunky. But it quickly smooths out and I get rolling. The funny thing is, I used to think an artist needed the inspiration to work. But if you are going to turn pro at this, you can’t rely on that, because it’s usually not there. Momentum, however, can be self-generated, and is far more useful!
The other good habit I think really helps me is that I make time to be away from the art stuff. I have other hobbies – woodworking, music, reading, running, etc., and often those things are where I find the space to mull over my thoughts and cultivate some inspiration that you can then bring to your art.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I like to mentally go through my day in the morning. If I have a project I’m working on (as I always do nowadays,) I like to have a rough map for where I want to be at lunchtime, and then at 5:00 pm when I stop for the day. It doesn’t always match up, mind you, but that gets me mentally prepared – something that really helps me stay on track and be efficient.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
As far as art-related books, I’ve gotten massive inspiration from those big Sargent collections, as well as collections by Wyeth, Rockwell, Leyendecker, etc. I also have a big collection of Art-Of books from films, which I feel helped guide me early on in becoming a concept painter. I should also mention the late Richard Schmid’s book, Alla Prima, as being a huge influencer on my understanding of how paintings work underneath the hood, so to speak.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
Not really. I’m not a big quotes guy, to be honest. Though if I had to think of a quote that succinctly describes how I go about my day-to-day, it’d be Nike’s “Just do it.”