In another 'behind the scenes at Osprey' blog, Charly Ford from our editorial department has a Q&A with popular Osprey illustrator Mark Postlethwaite.
'Mark Postlethwaite has been illustrating for Osprey for ten years and in that time has produced an array of outstanding cover illustrations for our core aviation series books. I have always enjoyed working with Mark and he has been so kind as to give us an insight into the man behind the artwork.
Charly: Is there a particular aircraft that you most enjoy painting?
Mark: The Lancaster is probably my favourite aircraft to paint as I just love everything about it. It's not the easiest aircraft to paint but over the years I've grown to know every panel and rivet so I don't need too much in the way of detailed references for it anymore! In fact I'm just finishing writing a new book on the Lanc today.
Charly: Do you have a favourite Osprey cover that you’ve created?
Mark: I have a few favourites, but I think my best cover is probably the Schlachtgruppen cover in the Elite Units series. It shows an FW190 over the ruins of Berlin in the final days of the war and is predominantly grey in tone. You may not believe it but grey is actually the hardest colour to use in a painting; I frequently set out to make a grey, sombre picture but then end up with either a sunset or bright blue sky as they have more immediate impact.
Charly: How long does it take you to paint an Osprey cover piece?
Mark: It usually depends upon when the deadline is! A simple cover can be done in as little as 3 days, approx 20 hours work. A complex cover could take at least a week and nearer to 50 hours. This is based upon an original artboard size of 15" x 11".
Charly: What career would you have chosen if you weren’t an artist?
Mark: I always wanted to be a pilot when I was young, but my poor eyesight soon put paid to that career path. I became a photographer after leaving school so I'd probably still be doing that. In fact my (male) friends could never understand why I gave up photographing girls wearing lingerie to sit and paint aeroplanes!
Charly: Do you listen to inspiring music while you’re working?
Mark: Yes, I always listen to background music whilst painting. It can't be too jarring on the ear so it is more 'choral classical' than pop, anything from Handel to Lauridsen. I also listen to the Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil a lot as their music seems to have the same soothing effect on my addled brain. Having said that, I do have secret weapon when I'm really tired and up against a deadline. An old Carter USM CD '1992 - The Love Album' played very loud keeps me going better than half-a dozen energy drinks or strong coffees!
Charly: If you could teleport back to one period of history, which one would you choose?
Mark: World War II without any doubt. I'd stand outside a bomber airfield and watch them take off at dusk. I'm afraid I wouldn't be brave enough to climb aboard with them.
Charly: What would your dream commission be?
Mark: For me the history behind the painting is as important as the final image so I'd love to be commissioned to paint a historical series, for example Bomber Command VC winners, which could then hang in a museum as a permanent visual record of what these men did. I have long considered this idea, it's just a case of finding the time and the funding to complete it.'
Thank you to both Charly and Mark for this great insight!
Some of the books Mark has provided artwork for include;
For more information about Mark, and a closer look at his portfolio, please visit www.posart.com