How Are Professional Artists Using Paint Markers?

How are Professional Artists Using Paint Markers?

Carmel Industries

When you think of paint markers and art, the first thing that comes to mind is probably amateur arts and crafts. While there’s a whole world of crafty people out there using paint markers for these types of projects, professional artists are also using paint markers in their work.

In fact, there’s a wide variety of applications for paint markers in contemporary art, from outdoor murals to more traditional canvas paintings. Paint markers are also commonly used in urban or graffiti art, which is a specialized field that deserves its own article.

In this post, we’re going to be looking at two different ways professional artists are using paint markers in their pieces: Indoor and outdoor art.

What’s a Professional Artist?
We are using the term “professional” here to distinguish between those who are making (or trying to make) a living out of their art, versus those who are doing it for fun, to make gifts for their friends, or to decorate their home. Professional artists often create art based on commissions, and generally aim to sell their work to consumers.

Why Do Artists Like Paint Markers?
Most artists use a variety of tools in their work, from brushes to aerosol cans. Paint markers are actually becoming an important tool in many professionals’ arsenals. Professional artists share many of the same needs with amateur artists when it comes to paint markers, except they typically have a few more specialized requirements.

Generally speaking, these are the features artists value the most in paint markers:

Opacity. Because paint markers apply paint which is pigmented (as opposed to ink which is made from a dye), the colour layer applied to the surface will be more opaque. This results in a bolder, brighter and more defined effect.

Precision/control. Paint markers apply paint in a more precise way than standard brushes because of their specialized tips or nibs.

Durability. Quality paint markers whose paint doesn’t run or mix when it’s layered with other colours are a highly desirable tool for artists of all types.

Professional artists need more out of their paint markers, mainly due to the fact that they are creating products for consumers and building a name for themselves. As such, they have higher standards when it comes to quality and durability, such as:

Surface adhesion. Artists work with a variety of surfaces, and they need to be sure that their paint will remain on the surface for as long as possible.

Colour integrity. Since artists are producing pieces for people to buy, they want them to last and not fade or change colour.

Paint Markers in Outdoor vs. Indoor Art
Artists are using paint markers for pieces created both outdoors and indoors. We’re going to be looking at two artists who represent each type of art.

Outdoor art comes in many forms, but perhaps the most striking is the urban mural. Kevin Ledo is an artist making a name for himself around the world with his unique mixed-media pieces and outdoor art.

While he works with a variety of media, he’s garnered a lot of attention for his outdoor murals, the most famous of which is probably the Plateau’s iconic dedication to Leonard Cohen (he’s not responsible for the one on Crescent street).

How Are Paint Markers Used in Outdoor Murals?
It might be surprising to find out that Kevin uses paint markers in the creation these often-huge murals. While he applies most of the paint with rollers, he uses paint markers to first trace the outline of the piece.

Since these pieces are sometimes several floors in height, he uses a hydraulic lift to position himself around the surface and apply the paint. When he’s tracing the outline, he tapes the paint markers to a stick that allows him to bridge the gap and work on a wide area.

The Outdoor Artist’s Concerns
When it comes to using the paint markers for this type of work, Kevin’s main concern is getting enough paint to the surface. He likes to use the biggest paint marker sizes he can get to achieve good coverage.

Since the surfaces he works with are often rough, such as brick, concrete, or wood, Kevin needs a felt tip to ensure the paint reaches every crevasse.

A solid ball point tip paint marker, although durable, wouldn’t work well in this case as it would only apply the paint to the topmost layer of the surface. Ball point tip paint markers are great for smooth surfaces such as metal, however.

In most cases, the outdoor canvases Kevin works with are already painted (such as the bricks in the Leonard Cohen mural), so he needs to ensure the paint he applies will adhere well to this type of surface.

After he traces the outline of the image, he then applies paint on top of the sketch. That means he needs the paint marker outline to not run or mix with the subsequent paint layers.

Finally, when it comes to outdoor art like murals, it’s understood that they will generally not last forever.

Weathering and normal wear and tear will take its toll and the mural will eventually fade, chip or change colour. As such, resistance to weathering and colour change is not really a big concern for this type of work.

Jumbo paint markers are an ideal choice for Kevin’s mural tracing needs.

How Are Paint Markers Used in Indoor or Studio Art?
By indoor or studio art, we’re referring to traditional-format art pieces that are meant to be displayed indoors, whether it’s in galleries, homes or offices.

This is a huge field with a wide variety of styles, mediums, and approaches. We’re going to focus on one particular artist who uses paint markers to augment his pieces.

Mark Unterberger is an artist working in a variety of media, from sculpture to painting to movie special effects makeup. He uses paint markers almost exclusively to create highlights in his paintings and drawings.

In this example, he used white paint markers to create dramatic highlights and white space in the image.


The Indoor Artists’ Concerns
Both Kevin and Mark create pieces for display indoors and sell them to the general public or to specific buyers through commissions.

They have two main concerns when it comes to applying paint to their canvases.

First of all, they need their paint markers to not run or be absorbed into the surface (as an ink would). This allows them to create sharp, opaque lines. They also need them to not mix with other colours that they subsequently apply.

Second, they need the paint to retain its colour integrity. Consumers who are buying art pieces don’t want them to fade or change colour over time. This can happen with exposure to sunlight or as the paint reacts with other materials in the piece.

Standard or fine-tip multi-surface paint markers are perfect for their needs in this case.

These are only a few ways in which artists are using paint markers in their pieces, but they cover the general requirements these creators have when it comes to their tools. In the next article, we’re going to be looking at how paint markers are used in graffiti or urban art.