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Meet our Tutors: Starting a Successful Project with Mark Aitken

Mark Aitken,
Written by
Hamish Chohan
Published date
28 January 2020

Central Saint Martins tutor, Mark Aitken, is an award-winning filmmaker, radio host and head of a non-profit company that has produced over 40 films. We caught up with Mark to find out more about the inspiring courses he teaches, what he’s currently working on and Mark shares some invaluable advice for creatives that can be used by all.

“I've realised how many apply art in their workplaces. Creative practice can be utilised in any profession.”

Mark Aitken

What is your name and what do you teach?

My name is Mark Aitken and I teach Film and Fine Art, Ideas for Successful Photography and Ideas for Successful Scriptwriting.

How did you come to work in your field?

I discovered photography as a student. Working with sequences of pictures led me to adding words and then sounds and music. Inevitably, I put it all together and made films.

© Mark Aitken

Could you tell us a little bit about something you've been working on recently as well as your wider practice?

We've wiped out over 70% of wild animals over the last 50 years. While being inundated with shocking statistics, I'm making a documentary about what lies beyond anxiety and polemic. How can we understand our relationships with animals - for better or worse? Ultimately, their demise will lead to our own.

I'm also working on a photo series based around the idea of being a foreigner. I've recently uprooted myself and rather than using my camera to explore other people's lives, I'm using it to interpret my own.

And I'm working on a new book about what it means to be creative - part of my post-doctorate research.

© Mark Aitken

Tell us about one piece of creative work by another artist that has been on your mind lately.

Gregory Halpern is an American photographer who recently published a book of a series of pictures travelling from the Mojave Desert into Los Angeles. It's a simple brief that can be employed wherever you live. I like that.

What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?

  • The wheel cannot be re-invented
  • Look to other work for inspiration
  • Develop critical awareness
  • Do something different
  • Find comfort in discomfort

© Mark Aitken

How has teaching students at CSM informed your approach to art?

What with the fantastic breadth of students passing through these doors, I've realised how many apply art in their workplaces. Creative practice can be utilised in any profession.

What is the most important thing that students take away from your course?

I think they feel more confident about being creative and less worried about not being good enough. I also ensure that students leave with a full bag of ideas and projects to get on with after they leave.

© Mark Aitken

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