Creativity and Inspiration by Karl Mackie (interview)

Ever seen the creative work of Karl Mackie? Over the years, this Newquay based photographer has developed a great portfolio with lots of awesome pictures. Mainly of subjects like surfing, landscapes, lifestyle and people. Timeless, Gritty and Dreamy is how Karl likes to describes his style. However, just photography is not enough. He also likes to work on different other projects.

Besides being a photographer, Karl Mackie is also the founder of Mackie Studio. A place from which Karl is working on branding, marketing, web design and film for other companies. And there’s more. He is even developing surfboards, handplanes, art, books and prints. Everything under the ’Mackie’ umbrella.

We’ve been following Karl’s Tumblr blog for a while now and we’re very amazed by his photos and design projects. Therefore it’s awesome that he took some time for us to tell a bit more about his work and life via an interview. To us a very creative and inspiring story.

I’m always trying to capture a moment that’s hanging there, lost in its own moment.

1. Who’s Karl Mackie? Can you tell something more about yourself?

I am a photographer who also founded and runs the creative studio ‘Mackie’ after many years of working in the creative industry. I live in the UK, down in the southern point of Newquay in Cornwall with my wife, two children and our dog Willow. Most people would probably say I can’t sit still and they would be right! For that reason I don’t like sleeping, preferring to be doing something productive instead. I shape surfboards which is a lifelong passion of mine as well as running, football and design. I like a night of banter with good friends, music and red wine! But what I really love is surfing which is central to everything I do.




2. What made you decide to become a photographer?
I never made that decision. In many ways it made it for me. Life never dictates itself the way you imagine it too and this was no different. When I was younger my choice of studies was Design and although it was peppered with photography it wasn’t until I stepped out into the working environment that photography began to surface more and more. At that point I was still very much all design with an added love of photography. At some point I decided to put together my negatives and finally put out all of my work from over the years, firstly on Flickr and then the first incarnation of It was not long after that, photography became a viable option for me as a career but I will always credit the magazine Surfers Path with really starting it all. They published a large part of my work in their magazine and opened my images to a much wider audience.




3. How can you best describe your photography style?
Timeless, Gritty, Dreamy. I put a lot of thought into the images I like to take. I’m always trying to capture a moment that’s hanging there, lost in its own moment. I want the viewer to be transported back to when it was shot.






4. What kind of equipment do you use ?
I am fully equipped with Canon 5D III’s and I favour prime lenses over zooms, my goto lenses are 35, 50 and 85mm. My iPhone 6 is also super important, I’m finding more and more clients are commissioning mobile shoots than ever before. The studio’s Instagram account is iPhone only and we really try and push the boundaries of what we can achieve with a mobile device here. However my heart and my obsession is with film. I use a Canon AV-1, Olympus Trip 35, Holga 120, Minolta SR-7, Minox GT and a Polaroid throughout my work, again I favour the 50mm lens on the Canon and Minolta cameras because I love capturing what is essentially what the eye can see.




5. What would be your advice to other photographers?
It’s really hard to be a photographer now in a world full of photographers, technology has improved and allowed this to be a viable option. I get asked this question a lot and I always say, you gotta enjoy your work and share it ! Photography is a much better medium once shared, let other people in and see your work, let them be inspired. Most of all, work on developing a style that becomes your signature style.

6. What inspires you?
In many ways it’s hard to avoid negative inspiration, we are surrounded by it from every technological angle. For me I reach moment’s when I need to travel, to see and experience new surroundings, shoot new imagery and submerge. Online I am blown away daily by numerous people I follow on Instagram and how far they are willing to push it. But always when the minds stuck in negative space I jump in the sea and surf.






7. You’re also the founder of Mackie Studio. Can you tell something more about this venture?
‘Mackie’ is a creative studio based in Cornwall. I started it because I love design and photography and I wanted to create a space that combined those things with lifestyle and where we live. We work on building brands across design, web, photography, marketing, film, direction etc as well as develop our own products which include surfboards, handplanes, original art pieces, books and print all under the ‘Mackie’ brand umbrella. We got lucky and base our studio in the Old Bakery right in the heart of Newquay and a stones throw from where we surf which means our work-life balance is hopefully heading in the right direction.




8. Can you describe some of the Mackie Studio projects?
It varies quite a bit, for instance we currently have numerous projects on that include: Creating a brand project for a Japanese gaming company, a brand and website refresh for a wetsuit company, a big project for a group of artists that will see a change in how we view and buy art, a handplane collaboration with a Barcelona based company, an ongoing website and brand project for a large blue chip UK company and we recently wrapped a shoot overseas. It’s a fun and interesting place to work, we are lucky it’s so diverse in the projects we work on and the clients we work with.







9. You’re based in Newquay, Cornwall.  What would you recommend when visiting this place?
We have a stunning coastline here. Newquay links up many beaches all of which are different, tourists will flock to the famous Fistral Beach but if you peep around the corner you’ll find another hidden treasure. We’ve got an amazing local community selling food and drinks, you should definately drop in on ‘The Jam Jar’ for its gluten free menu and coffee’s. Taste the Mexican food at ‘Gilmore’s’ and grab a cornish pint at the classic ‘Red Lion’ Pub overlooking the harbour. We also get the odd good swell !





10. What’s more in life besides photography and Mackie Studio?
Family, Loving, Music, Reading, Surfing, Shaping, Training, Running, Travelling, Smiling!

11. What would be your ultimate adventure?
My ultimate adventure changes a lot…however right now my ultimate adventure lies in traveling around Iceland, Shooting and Surfing the island.

Life never dictates itself the way you imagine it too and this was no different.

12. What can people expect from you in the future?
Looking ahead I have a new solo exhibition happening outside of Cornwall, details to be announced soon… I’m planning on launching the surfboard range later in the year as well as the Open Spaces book, both of which will be released under the Mackie umbrella at the end of the year. Most of all to keep exploring, working with great people and maintaining a consistent flow of work across all the channels.




Visit  or drop by for more information. Alternatively have a look around the studio at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.