Interview with Marcus Mason-Williams: Autistic author, artist and business owner

Today we’re really excited to bring you an interview with Marcus Mason-Williams.

Marcus is an artist and business owner. His art showcases his passion for wildlife and nature, and is influenced by his autism.

You can check out our interview with Marcus below!

Interview with Marcus Mason-Williams

1. How long have you been creating art for? 

My passion for drawing wildlife began when I was about 5 years old after being introduced to Henry Rousseau’s animal paintings.

2. What inspires your art?   

A lot of my artwork is inspired by my heroes Sir David Attenborough, Bill Oddie, Kate Humble, Chris Packham and other wildlife presenters.

3. What made you want to create art as a business? 

My first job was working for Kevin Barry Adams at the Glasshouse as a trainee crystal glass cutter – my nickname there was ‘Iceman’ due to the ice patterns I made. It was after this work experience that I decided to set up my own digital art business and with the help of Exceptional Minds (autistic animation studio) in the USA, learned how to use digital software to create my drawings, which are the designs you see on my website http://www.coolart2021.co.uk.

4. What is your favourite thing being an entrepreneur?

I am trying to be my very own boss and not having to please someone else’s boss. Not only has it allowed me to pursue my passion, but it has also opened up so many doors for me. I have worked with fellow Special Olympics GB athletes Michael Beynon and Niall Guite on the Unified Business project with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners and Special Olympics GB. I have had help from a number of mentors, including Ben Pearson from Big Clothing4U and Kellie Barker from Born Anxious, who both understand my autism. Through Kellie I have been introduced a well known artist called Dez Noi, LoveArtPix and we are working on a book project together. I love working with local people in the community. I sell my cards in my home village of Barnt Green, in our local gift shop and florists, and my work is displayed in the local dentist’s waiting room. My job allows me to work with nature too – at Wildgoose Rural Training, which I attend two days a week and act as a trainee nature reserve officer. This gives me inspiration. One of my pictures of a goldfinch was inspired by a sighting at the reserve. I also like talking to young people, especially those with special needs, about what they can achieve if given a chance. Recently I talked to students at Rigby Hall School as part of National Careers Week. It’s not about making money to me, it is about playing your part and trying to do what is best for the world.

5. Have you worked with any big brands as part of your work? 

I have been lucky to work with some big brands.I have had work experience with the design team at KPMG. I am being trained by Neil Kerber, a cartoonist with Private Eye and by Aaron Blaise, a Disney animator. I am being supported by Special Olympics GB, part of a large global charity. Through them I have worked with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners a number of media and PR companies. My first illustrated book, Zooland A Sign of Hope, was signed by Gareth Southgate (England Football Manager) and Steve Clarke (Scotland Football Manager). My customers include The Wildlife Trusts and The Rivers Trust. However, I love also being able to work with inspiring individuals, especially those like Dez and Kellie who understand my autism.

6. Do you have any tips or advice for other autistic people wanting to create art as a business? 

Be yourself. Focus on what you are good at and try and find friends and helpers to fix the gaps. It is not always about winning or losing it is about having fun, testing yourself and seeing if you have what it takes to go the distance. I have two sayings that inspire me:

“This is not the finish line, my friends.  This is the start of the race.  The future is the finish line.  And our combined skills and geniuses, working together, are just the thing to get us there.”

Jeff Bridges, Seabiscuit

The second saying is:

“It ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.“

Silvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa