Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Artist of the Week

M?rk Flores

The subject of graffiti can be complicated. The first distinction that needs to be made is between graffiti and tagging. Where graffiti is an artistic expression, tagging is a senseless defacing of public places and private property. Uncommissioned both are illegal. Yet, as more and more graffiti artists become accepted into the small and major galleries around the world, the rift between the law and artist becomes more distinct and brightly colored. Artists are being commissioned in all sorts of locations for murals and other projects. The results are beautiful and unique, and bring a new life to the community. Given all of this, every time I walk through a tunnel or past a train yard and see everything washed over and painted grey, I cringe.

Chicago's M?rk Flores got his start in art through graffiti, but quickly realized that he was looking for a more personal connection with his audience. He was also looking for something a little less risky, and more financially rewarding. While obtaining his degree he began to experiment with canvas, and now he has created a hybrid style all his own. Mixing classic graffiti, tagging, and tattoo art together his image are vibrant interpretations of the gripping subjects he uses, he has a created a portfolio that is as raw as it is beautiful.

Recently, M?rk was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
M?rk Flores (MF): My work is a blend of influences from Graffiti to tattoo flash art. I have heard my work described as urban abstract, which I would think comes closest to a description. I try to personalize my work by painting regular people and close friends.

OA: When and why did you start using the question mark in your name?
MF: A while back, around college, I would type my name so fast at the end of emails that would come out as “mrk” or “mrl”. I guess my pinky wasn’t fast enough, so I started playing with different symbols to represent the lost “a”. I thought “@” would be to cliché and the “?” just seemed to work. I started promoting events, so once it came time to develop a logo, m?rk was born.

OA: Do you have a set color pallet that you work with? Do you find yourself using color to evoke certain emotions in the viewer?
MF: I definitely have my favorite colors, I think I overuse red and teal; I try to stray from that when I get the urge. I have a very basic sense of what I want to accomplish in terms of the emotions of a viewer, red is the color of passion, love, lust and anger… its up to the viewer to chose which one of those emotions I evoke.

OA: Do you find it strange that graffiti is being accepted in the gallery and still persecuted in the streets?
MF: Interestingly enough, I was at a gallery last weekend that featured a well known graffiti artist from New York, so you can imagine the amount of graffiti artists that attended the opening. By the end of the night, someone took the liberty to throw their name up on the wall of the gallery, where the featured artist had painted. As someone that did graffiti for a long time before I got into producing studio based work it kills me that while galleries are becoming more and more accepting of it as an art form, you will always have these toys ruining that acceptance by fucking up shit every time the opening has a graff artist highlighted. I was in a group show where I met this young lady who told me her graff name, when I walked out of the gallery, the store front was tagged with her name. Its ridiculous. When I was an active graff head, we would get chased, some of us got beaten by cops and dropped off in screwed up neighborhoods, that shits not cool, but it is interesting that you have these upscale gallery owners that now want to make money off of us… you gotta love it.

OA: What are your thoughts on the Chicago art scene in general? Are there opportunities out there for the young artists?
MF: I personally think that one makes their own opportunities, you can’t wait for a “scene” to find you, and you have to find it. Too many artists are lazy and don’t have a handle on the “art of self promotion.” There is nothing romantic about being broke or starving. I also think Chicago has great organizations and amazing galleries that promote up and coming artists… it’s a matter of getting out there and finding those that are going to be your promoters, but not waiting for them.

OA: What's next for M?rk Flores ?
MF: I have started doing some freelance work and a lot of commission work. In a few weeks you will be able to see my work on Ads on the CTA that features some graff work that I did… things are looking good.

Bonus questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in Chicago ?
MF: My girl throws cinnamon in the brewer... i love waking up to that...

OA: What type of music do you enjoy, and who are a few of your favorites?
MF: I like my locals… a little bit of Common, a little bit of Kanye, Kid Sister.

For more information on M?rk Flores please visit his website.

No comments: