With a name like Mars-1, it hardly comes as a surprise that the paintings, toys, and installations of this open-minded artist are otherworldly. Driven by a fascination with alternative life forms, the San Francisco-based Mars-1 layers paint and picture to create ethereal landscapes, combining light and color to form dreamlike worlds that are as inviting as they are surreal. Are there aliens out there? Yes. Do they live in a more beautiful world than ours? It certainly looks that way. Can we visit? Ha, No. Well, not yet anyway, but until the time when we can get lost in space, weâ€™ll just lose ourselves in the paintings of Mars-1.
â€œThe rabbit hole is deep, and there in so much out there it’s hard to keep track of it all.â€
Format: Has being an artist always been your goal, or was it something that crept up on you?
Mars-1: Well, I am left-handed, so I suppose it was always inevitable to be attracted to things of a right brain nature. Drawing is something I have done ever since I can remember, but being an artist is not something I always thought I would become.
Format: Like so many of today’s up and coming artists, you formed your creative roots with a spraycan. Are you primarily a studio guy these days, or do you still spend some time beautifying the streets of San Francisco?
Mars-1: Over the last five years, painting has become my main focus and means of paying bills. Graff has become a hobby instead of a primary objective. Here I am at age 30. The gravitational pull of being a responsible adult has finally caught up to me. Now that I have an awesome little seven month-old son, there is no denying the reality of getting older.
Format: San Francisco has an incredibly supportive and diverse art scene. What role has your location played in your development as an artist?
Mars-1: When I moved here in 1996, I found a creatively rich environment, with tons of inspirational art and artists, some of whom I call my friends. Living here has been instrumental, as far as my growth as an artist, and my ability to pursue painting as a career. It also has influenced my work.
Format: When you first began attending SF’s Academy of Art, were there any elements of formal training that, after so many years of writing, you found difficult to adjust to?
Mars-1: I can’t say it was hard to adjust because I was there to learn. I started going to the Academy when I was 19. I was completely still discovering what it was that I wanted to and could do. So no, not much of an adjustment, artwise. I just looked at it as practice. They focused on classical and old masters style of training. I never really had a chance to do the type of work that I do on my own as part of my schoolwork. That was something I developed on my own, outside of school. My art is something I still work at, evolving and refining it to this day.
Format: Would you consider yourself fairly experimental as far as media and motif go, or do you tend to stick to the same general area of materials and concepts?
Mars-1: Concept wise, I don’t think it changes too much because it mirrors my underlying interests that I feel passionate about. However, I feel far more adventurous when it comes to experimenting with materials and techniques.
Format: You were the artist behind the second toy STRANGEco ever produced, and you’ve had a running relationship with them ever since. Are you currently developing anything with them?
Mars-1: Definitely! We are still good friends, and we have more vinyl on the way. My focus is on painting. I am hands-on during the prototype stage of creating a figure. It’s a very slow and time-consuming process. This is why it ends up being long spans of time between releases.
Format: It seems like the process of creating a new piece is a very spiritual process for you. Would you say that is a true statement?
Mars-1: It’s definitely a part of the equation, but just one of many aspects.
Format: Have you been diving into those French UFO archives for inspiration?
Mars-1: No, not yet; the rabbit hole is deep, and there in so much out there it’s hard to keep track of it all.
Format: Are you a true believer in alternative life forms, or is that just a concept you find inspiring, creatively speaking?
Mars-1: The Magic 8 ball says, “all signs point to yes.”
More Info: http://www.mars-1.com/