Under the influence
Every artist has their influences, and I am no exception. I’ve been thinking about mine in preparation for my Artist Talk next week, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you here. I believe the visual stimuli we artists experience throughout our lives ultimately help shape our aesthetic, taste and tendencies as we strive to develop our own personal style in our work.
Thinking back, my earliest visual memories as a child are filled with the vibrant, colorful imagery of saturday morning cartoons, cereal box characters, classic rock album covers, pop posters, sunday comics, MAD and LIFE magazines. It was a lot to process. My first young instincts were to draw, and try to replicate with crayons everything that I saw. Often, that meant drawing whatever my brothers and I were watching on TV. At six, I can even remember rendering a giant Campbell’s Soup can in my oversize sketch pad. Yes—somehow Andy Warhol‘s bold statement on consumerism and American banality had made its way into my barely-conscious consciousness.
I wish I still had that drawing. But I’m happy to have saved another childhood sketch—my version of the colorful Bob Dylan poster that hung on my older brother‘s bedroom wall. I drew it from memory during class in first grade. It wasn’t art class though, and when I got caught, I was escorted to the Principal’s office. I was sure I was in trouble, but instead the notoriously stern Catholic nun smiled for the first time ever that I recall, then offered me candy as a “prize”. Hmm… maybe there is something to this art thing. Later, I learned that iconic image was illustrated by none other than the “Godfather of Modern Design”, Milton Glaser. As a design student at Pratt NYC, I acquired a deeper appreciation of Glaser’s work, and recalled the impression it made on me at such a young age.
While at Pratt, I also developed a great love of surrealism—especially the paintings of Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte. Their surprising use of unexpected elements and dream-like imagery had a profound impact on the direction I wanted to go with my art. And as a graphic designer, I grew more and more fond of the pop art movement—especially the work of artists like James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselmann. Like the surrealists, they also used diverse imagery in odd juxtaposition with one another that created a powerful effect when presented together.
Below are a range of my artistic influences that continue to help inspire, inform and guide me as I strive to establish my own style—with a few notes on each.
So, it’s these influences and more that contribute to the work I’m doing. By striking a balance between a bold, iconic pop aesthetic and a deeper symbolic context, my goal is to create art that captures, engages, and satisfies both the mind and the soul. To see how it all comes together, I invite you to join me for my upcoming Artist Talk + Tour of my solo exhibition, Double Vision at TECO Public Art Gallery during Tampa’s monthly Fourth Friday event on January 24th. Read on for full exhibition details—and hope to see you there!
TECO Public Art Gallery Presents:
Double Vision | The Conceptual Pop Art of Mark Mitchell | Artist Talk + Tour
A Solo Exhibition Curated by Debra Radke
RSVP to the Artist Talk + Tour Event on facebook >> here.
TECO Public Art Gallery
702 N. Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602
Fourth Friday Reception, Talk + Tour:
Open 5pm – 7pm | Artist Talk @ 6pm
Tuesday, January 7, 2020 – Thursday, February 27, 2020
Open Weekdays 8am – 5pm
Group show continues in St Pete
Looking Forward continues at The Cider Press Cafe in St Pete through Sunday, March 8th, 2020. The two-month show features a range of contemporary, innovative and futuristic works by local artists. You’ll find some affordable large-scale canvas prints of my pieces, each focusing on aspects of modern technology.
Details below and on facebook >> here.
The Cider Press Café
601 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Saturday, January 11, 2020 – Sunday, March 8, 2020
Open Daily 11am – 8pm
More details, news and updates on the way! I invite you to follow my progress on this blog, and at the links below.
Produced with the support of Creative Pinellas, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater and the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners