Fire in the hole! Fine Art student uses rocket launcher to create incredible self-portrait

Conventional methods of painting were not exciting enough for one De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) student as he swapped his paintbrush and palette for a rocket launcher.

Marcus Dove, a second year BA (Hons) Fine Art student, took his laser-guided painting equipment to a specially cordoned off car park to produce his unique painting for his work on the Self-Directed Study module.

Students on the module have to produce a piece of artwork with evidence of build-up work; the rest is up to them.

Marcus said: “When I’m left to do what I want, apparently I end up painting with a rocket launcher.

“In fine art we have to find context. The context I’ve found came from my name. ‘Marcus’ represents the Roman god of war and ‘Dove’ represents peace. To represent that contradiction I decided to do a self-portrait with an item of war.

“It took me about seven or eight months to get from the idea to actually filming the shoot.”


It’s no surprise Marcus’ idea took so long to hit the paper, considering he had to find a suitable location, design and build the launcher, and experiment to find the best projectiles to fire the paint.

He added: “I began trying to find materials to use for the missiles, which had to be something that would break-up on impact – I even considered ice-cream cones.

“I adapted a model rocket and learned a lot from that, such as their aerodynamic properties and how they launch. Then it was a case of finding the right size tube to accommodate the missiles and finding an ignition device to go with that.

“There were some setbacks but I like the picture. Even the imperfections and scratches from where the blade slipped add to the character.”

Marcus is hopeful that his extraordinary method of creating portraits is something that will catch on, perhaps bringing him business to his website,, where he hopes people will request their own rocket launcher portraits.

He said: “When I graduate I want to work for myself. The dream for any art student is to ultimately become a self-supported artist; the likelihood of that happening depends on how you put the work in.

“I’d love to do portraits of other people this way and get paid for doing that.”

Watch the video above to see Marcus’ incredible rocket launcher self-portrait take shape.

Posted on: Thursday 07 May 2015

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