I am a self taught Artist from Brunswick, Ohio a suburb of Cleveland. I have been working on art for as long as I can remember more as a hobby "extremist" though until 2004 when I lost my job due to economic conditions. I had spent 25+ years prior to that in the field of Transportation. I come from a Family line in that there were or currently are a number of working Artists. With the help of a supportive Spouse I decided to attempt to market my art as a means to make a living.
How would you describe "corrugated art" in several sentences?
In my early art using traditional mediums of pencil, ink, paint or other I was concerned more so of being technicallly accurate. That is in rendering something either two dimensionally or three dimensionally realistic as in that say of a photo. I like to express myself with corrugated art in celebrating exactly what it is...a recycled corrugated box. Not to morph it into something that when viewed you have no idea what the medium is but allowing for script and branding to be present even if it is ever so prevelant. It's a material that all can relate to, we practically use everyday in one way shape or another, one of the most easiest to recycle and one of the greatest engineered inventions of our time. It is strong yet lightweight and the most cost effective way to ship our goods.
Are there any artists that have served as an inspiration to you or whose work you particularly admire?
Back in 1978 my High School Commercial Art class had a field trip and we visited the Morse family collection of Salvador Dali. The collection has since moved many years ago not long after I first viewed it from Beachwood, Ohio to Saint Petersburg, Florida. From the moment I walked in and had seen Dali's work first hand I was in complete awe. Jaw dropping is the word! The Morse collection is incredibly huge and the most spectacular thing I've laid eyes on. I have always been very quirky one might say with my own work because I think it's important that art makes one think. Dali's art obviously bizarre whether you love it or hate it, but it does make you think!
I am also a huge fan of Andy Warhol's too. I specifically love the fact that a lot of his art derived from iconic branding. To me it is simply put...brilliant and he of course way ahead of his time. I most recently created an art piece playing homage to his Campbell's soup can art. Unlike his though, I used Campbell's soup corrugated can cases as the medium to comprise the sculpture. My aim to hopefully market it to Campbell's, any collector of his art, who knows...maybe the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. You just never know, they may have some "green" agendas coming up.
Although I don't find myself specifically gearing my art towards interpreting any of their styles, I do however feel finding your niche' and being unique and true to yourself is the key. I am also fond of the works of George Segal and Roy Lichtenstein as well.
Can you share some images and background on some of your favorite pieces?
The attached is an example of something I wanted to do for myself as I mentioned before in being able to market "iconic" images. I am a huge fan of Andy Warhol and simply love his depictions of the Campbell's soup cans. I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to try a rendition of one of my favorites (Tomato) but place my unique spin on things. With the help of my local grocery store chain (Buehler's) I enlisted them to assist in gathering a multitude of Campbell's corrugated soup can cartons. I take my Mother to this store practically every week and each time I would bring back home a fairly large stack of them. Once I had enough I started to create my version from them and this is the result.
This was a very tricky art piece to accomplish. Cans weigh quite a bit and crush the corrugated flutes underneath them. I would slice with precision from a sharp knife and making sure that the optimum sides were exposed so that the art would still present itself as pristine. I haven't taken a huge amount of time to market the art yet but my intentions are to get the folks at Campbell's to take a look at it or perhaps if seeing that the Warhol Museum itself located in Pittsburgh, PA. may have any upcoming green initiatives or interest. In either case, it has been with me to three shows since its completion this past Spring and everyone who has seen it has smiled after seeing it. In fact, next month I'll be displaying it here locally at NASA. The folks at the Glenn Research Center have invited me to attend again this year their America Recycles Day event. Great fun and the NASA employees ask some rather intelligent questions on the technical side which is wonderful and out of the norm. You know...those "nerdy" Engineers.
The wonderful aspect of this art other than what Warhol originated with in paints is that the actual product (Campbell's branding) comprises the art. Something I mention to clients all the time that I can use their products and branding to incorporate them into the art itself. I colored the wood frame using red dye inks and applied lacquer finish to add some more bounce to the artwork. From perspectives at sides the labels from all the boxes are visible but become almost non existent from the frontal vantage point. This is an homage piece to one of my favorites and not meant to be a complete rip off. I photographed this modern can version myself as a study and there are other nuances that sets it different from the original such as the upper and lower case font.
Where do you find the inspiration for your work?
I find my inspiration thru many things. Always looking about and trying to fathom a particular technique that will recreate not neccesarily the absolute visual truth to something but more or less suggests thru style and shape the essence of a particular subject. My art obviously is a perfect match to someone in the corrugated business and related industry. I have spent much time on commissions based for those in that field many times rendering their corporate image (logo) into three dimensional art. Because of its "green" qualities I have been able to approach those businesses such as recycling firms and any other party concerned with trying to exemplify their sustainability practices. I have had some incredible work over the past year whereas my art has literally connected to those one might not ordinarily think too. I have two artworks now as acquisitions of Ripley Entertainment, my first artwork that now is across the Atlantic, I even received a commission for art from Hollywood's David Arquette of all people (see propr image below). Having the blessings of these and others has made me realize that I am truly "on to something" and keeps me going even though the economy is not very condusive to selling art these days. I have found a niche' and am happy that my work has been appreciated to an audience I never expected. Many times throughout the month I will receive email from people literally from all over the globe who inquire about the art. Many times the price of a commission, others technical questons with regards to what I do, even more so a host of teachers and students who will write to tell me that I and my art are the subject matter for their class studies. I don't think it can get any better than that. When you have inspired others such as young children...it is inspirational to me as well. I've actually requested to see photo's of their art and I learn many new things to about the medium by looking thru their perspective.
Have you collaborated with an artist recently?
I have not collaborated with any other Artist to date...at least yet that is. I do have an unusual project that I am bidding on for an artwork to be shipped from the States into Malaysia. A gentleman contacted me from Kuala Lumpur who is opening an eco-friendly food and beverage business in that country. They do not have what we have in the U.S. such as LEED certification but it will be the country of Malaysia's first establishment based on similar principals. Talks are now of me potentially creating a rather large version of my art by doing a rendering of a very popular brewery label you would all be familiar with as they will be partnering with them. It is really an honor to be considered for such and hoping and praying that all will come thru by the beginning of next year. The most wonderful part of all this is that I have concentrated on the marketing of my art when things are slow. I have potential clients coming to me now and that's a good sign that I have been doing is effective. I spend more time on the aspect of getting my work seen then I do of actually creating it. Hopefully as time moves on that will change. Working with large businesses aside from them having the dollars to spend on art is terrific. My art receives free exposure you might say by having it displayed their offices, web sites and so on as many clients see the art being in the same or related industry and contact me after doing so.
Does your location have any impact on your work?
Being from Cleveland we are often referred to in the negative sense. I'm sure most of you have heard of the "burning river" or "mistake by the lake" but it really is a wonderful place to live. Aside from some brutal Winters we have it's full of people that take pride in their city. You maybe quite surprised but we have an incredible amount of talent here in all the Arts. I must admit that the majority of work has sold on the West Coast but I am proud to have connections thru local businesses here as well. I have received commssions from all over the U.S. and this simply because of the ability to market my art electronically thru the computer as the number one tool. I ship thru the services of UPS and they are present everywhere so geographically speaking I am not lost. I wouldn't be honest though to say that it might perhaps benefit me to have presence in a city such as NYC or LAX but none the less I make do with what I know and have. Too hard to think about uprooting and moving away from family and long time friends. It's a blessing to have them here as we support each other. As far as my art outside the U.S. I have been contacted by businesses in Brazil, Israel, Italy, U.K. and Lebanon of all places. Some may come to fruition but the stumbling block now is adding onto all the freight charges to ship an artwork internationally.
View Mark's profile and drop him a note to learn more about his corrugated box art.