Michael Alexander speaks to unemployed St Andrews man Marc Gorgon who has been inspired by the Covid-19 lockdown to one day turn his art hobby into a full-time living.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a tough time for St Andrews man Marc Gorgon, as it has for many.
The 24-year-old restaurant waiter, who is dyslexic and left school with minimal qualifications, found himself out of work when the lockdown began and he remains unemployed.
However, the former Madras College pupil has been keeping body and soul together by developing his talents as a self-taught artist.
As well as looking after his three-year-old son Ian, he has been filling in the hours doing casual portraits and, despite having no formal training, is exploring ways to “step up to the next level” in the hope that he might pursue a career using art.
“I don’t want to think too far ahead but one area I definitely want to try is tattooing,” said Marc.
“The level of skill to make a good tattoo is something I’d quite enjoy.
“I have quite a few myself. They are mostly realism stuff. I’ve got ‘medusa’ as well – a lot of Greek mythology. I actually designed my first tattoo – a family dedicated one. It’s definitely something I’d like to get more into.”
Born in Aberdeen, Marc moved to St Andrews when he was young.
Attending Langlands Primary (which closed in 2006), Canongate Primary and Madras College, he admits school “wasn’t exactly my finest moment”.
He went on to college to do a sports course and dropped out after 2.5 years.
But since then, he’s been concentrating on what he regards as his first love – art – and says it’s something that’s “just taken over my life really”.
“Ever since I can remember I was always drawing somehow,” he said.
“When I was younger, I was always interested in sports. I would draw sport related stuff as well – things like mostly Celtic stuff, who I supported.
“I would draw pictures of Henrik Larsson with his distinctive hair. I would draw some cartoons.
“Just small things when I was younger – then it slowly progressed into portraits and dogs as well.
“It was nothing major when I was little, but it was always something I was pretty good at.”
Marc said a lot of his teachers said he was “pretty good” at art.
However, during his time at Madras he says he “didn’t really concentrate on it too much”.
He started doing his Standard Grade art but didn’t complete the course.
“I was always just wanting to draw rather than try different things,” he added.
“I wanted to be creative and free. I wasn’t into doing paintings and other stuff.
“But as I got older I tried different things and found it’s more enjoyable doing that.”
Marc said that when people first started asking him to do portrait commissions he kept “putting it off” as he didn’t have the confidence.
But after doing his first, he was actually quite happy with it and has had lots of positive feedback since.
“From my first one I just improved and improved with each and my confidence has grown from there,” he said.
Examples of work he’s done include dog portraits for friends, a portrait of a friend’s late father, roses and some more well-known faces such as naturalist David Attenborough and boxer Tyson Fury.
“When it comes to my own style, I want to aim for photo realism,” he said.
“I’m trying to do a variety of subjects with sports stars and celebrities. Dogs as well.
“I just want to get the highest quality of graphite work. I do them all by hand. I just use pencil – different shades of pencil.
“When I’m doing portraits, people send me a photograph and I use that as my reference. It takes roughly 8-12 hours per picture.
“I do it mostly over a few days. Normally I start a few different drawings at a time.
“But I’ve also been meaning to do a self-portrait. I haven’t done one of them since school!”
Marc is reluctant to blame his dyslexia for why he struggled at school but he says it can’t have helped.
He added: “I did struggle in some sense. It’s not reality affected my art or where I’m going in life, but I did struggle in some subjects.
“It might have had some bearing, yes.
“But I don’t really think about that too much. I just think about moving forward and taking art to the next level.”
Marc had been working part-time in St Andrews bars and restaurants including the Adamson and the Tailend fish bar – before the Covid-19 shutdown began.
“I had just moved job at the wrong moment pretty much which is unfortunate,” he added.
But it’s given him time to draw even more since.
He started off with a plan for a maximum of 24 commissions this year, but has pretty much doubled that tally already.
“I find art very relaxing,” he said.
“It puts your mind somewhere else and it’s good to focus on somewhere nice. It’s good to give someone a present – a pet or a family member. It’s nice to be able to give someone that opportunity.
“There’s a lot of artists I follow on social media. They do a lot of different styles. There’s a lot of paintings I want to do as well
“My gran and grandad – they were the ones I looked up to – they were great at art when they were younger as well. I think I get it from them.
“One day I hope I can really turn this hobby into a living.”