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Interview: Mark Mulroney

In conversation with the oddly delightful Mark Mulroney, whose work and characters exist in a world of their own:

You've experimented with every medium, it seems, over your art career. What was that initial impulse to make art all those years ago?

When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in my room for doing one wrong thing or the other so I had a lot of time to draw and make things out of cardboard boxes. All those days in my room alone prepared me well for the life of an artist. 

Your style is devoid of rules, and you embrace whatever forms, colours and images come to your mind. Is your process chaotic like the outcome or do you usually know what you're going for?

If I knew exactly what I was doing it wouldn't be very interesting to do and it would also indicate that because I knew where I was going that I'd been there before and you can't make art that way. You can certainly make money that way but not art.

You've been making art for the past 20 years, and seen the landscape of art change and the Internet become what it is today. Could you talk about the changes around you, and how it's impacted your work. There are pluses and minuses to the internet and how art operates within it. What I don't like is that subtlety is often lost. The louder, the brighter and the easier to consume, instantly the better. It kind of mirrors our politics. We have also lost some of the personal relationships. When I started, you couldn't always see what was at the galleries so you went to find out. Sometimes the shows were crap but sometimes you were surprised and glad you showed up. Today, you can see what's up instantly via Instagram but that is no replacement for actually seeing work in person and meetings gallerists, artists and collectors. If there is a plus, it is that some work can only exist on web-based platforms. The internet gives artists a new tool to use. It's also nice to be able to contact other artists and find out which galleries are honest and which are not.

Congratulations on the new book, Sketch Books! How does it feel holding your life's work in your hand?

It's a part of my work but just a part. Still, I was pretty happy how the book turned out. Derek and Jamie at Park Life deserve a lot of credit. Without them, the book never would have been published. 

What's your favorite medium to express yourself and why?

They all have their merits but paper and pencil is best. It's a simple and effective means of seeing ideas quickly.

I love this series. It really cracked me up. I'd love to know more about your sculpture work. Also, I'm curious to know how people usually react when they see your work.

Some projects are flat others are not. There really isn't much more to it than that. If you are asking about how people respond to my work with the expectation that some folks are offended, I really don't get much of that or at least people that don't like my work don't often share it with me, although one person years ago did threaten to stab me, but I think that was probably a joke. Who are some artists that inspire you?

Asger Jorn is pretty fun. So is Gary Panter and Manet. I think I am often inspired more by musicians, like the Canadian band NoMeasnNo and Harry Partch. Eric Dolphy is a also huge favorite. We've got a lot of Vivaldi and Beethoven in the house as well.

How's the pandemic been treating you? Have you been creating a lot?

I work at home, always have. It's close and I can just work all day in my pajamas. I have never really had a "studio" except when I was in school. Few artists getting started can afford a studio so like many of them, I worked in the living room out of necessity and know it just feels right to me. As of the pandemic, it is really awful but not for any artistic reason; it is just terrible for everyone. I used to go to a lot of flea markets and I don't anymore and I worry about a lot of the vendors, they don't have a lot of options. What plans for 2021? Doing a show in Athens, Greece with Allouche Benias, working on some skateboards and a few other projects but it is hard to count on anything with the virus and that dirtwad in the oval office.

Check out Mark's website, Instagram and Tumblr.


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