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Life & Work with Marc Allen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marc Allen.

Hi Marc, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I have been an artist as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are sharpened #2 pencils, blank paper, and the feeling that literally anything was possible. I still get that feeling when I create today, and chasing that high is really what keeps me going.

Growing up, I was always involved in some form of singing, performing, or public speaking. My mom is a classically trained musician and my dad is a percussionist so I had MANY different interests, but the one thing I knew I loved the most was Art. I started off wanting to be an illustrator so I went to Oakland School For the Arts to study Visual Art. There, I discovered graphic design and started making digital collages out of photos from the internet. My art teacher noticed this and suggested I use my own photos for the collages instead of others from Google.

My Great-Grandmother was an accomplished photographer so I was vaguely familiar with photography, but I had no idea where to start. My mom bought me a travel-size digital camera and I started shooting my family and friends and much as I could. At 16, I got a job at an after school program which allowed me to take photos of the kids doing various activities. From there, my friends and family started asking me to do portraits and events so by the time I started college in ’08 I invested in my first DSLR Camera! (Okay, My mom invested….)

In college, I realized that photography was A LOT harder than I thought. I was not doing well learning the technical aspects and struggling with learning the business. Nevertheless, I started a business. Lol Marc Allen Photography! While in school, I was freelancing and also doing contract work so I took a while to graduate but in 2019, I finally got an Associate of Arts degree in Photography from Laney College. Since graduating, my business has expanded to graphic design, apparel design and printed artworks.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Some of the most difficult challenges are the times when I have gotten in my own way. As an artist, it is really easy to sabotage yourself with negativity, especially in the age of social media. My goal is to always have faith in myself and to not compare myself to other artists.

Covid was also a challenge…..

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a photographer, graphic and visual artist, and my subject matter is fashion-based. As a photographer, I am known for my creative portraits of black and brown people. As a visual artist, I love to combine the idea of organic shapes with robotic or alien features. Often faceless, my art conveys a sense of minimalism, pop culture, and emotion.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
Aside from art, I am a pretty charismatic person and what makes me the happiest is making people laugh. The best feeling in the world to me is when I have made someone else feel joy.

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