Introducing the brilliant fantasy artwork of Mark Rogers.
Mark Rogers is a self-taught artist from Portland, Oregon. Stylistically his work has been described as a mash-up of folk art, medieval painting, and fairy tale illustration. His work has found a place among both the complementary Pop Surrealism and Magical Realism movements. Rogers creates narrative-driven paintings populated by fictional characters that inhabit his spooky, fantastical, and sometimes humorous oil paintings. His work has been shown in exhibitions across the United States and has been sold worldwide.
His current body of work illustrates a fictional series of events and interactions between various extraterrestrials and settlers of the Western United States...
Follow his Instagram: @markrogersart to keep up to date with his work!
Read on below for our interview with Mark Rogers...
Where did your journey into art begin? Have you been creating since a young age?
Yes, I started drawing as a young kid, maybe in preschool, and maybe earlier. I have always loved storybooks and reading and drawing. I drew until I went to college, where I when through a sort of existential journey into other creative realms. Ironically I failed the few University art classes that I took and ended up getting a degree in Political Science. (I hate politics, by the way.) In my early 20’s I played guitar in punk bands and tried my hand at horror fiction writing while working in pizza shops and bars. At 27, I started drawing again, thinking that maybe I would get into tattooing or illustrating for bands.
Then, at age 30 I went back to a community college, thinking that I would attempt a Graphic Design certificate. I registered for a painting class as an elective and it was there that I painted for the first time. Painting in that class was truly bizarre. I literally felt as if being a painter was something that I had done in a past life. I fucking loved it! Well, I gave the class a few weeks and then made a very intense decision and commitment. I decided to drop out of school so that I could devote all of my free time to painting, and despite having literally zero painting experience, I would become a professional painter. Now, I am 42 and a professional painter, haha. Weird.
How long did it take you to develop your unique style?
I guess I do have a pretty solidified style at this point. I am not super aware of trying to develop my style though. Over the years I have just tried to draw and paint to the best of my abilities. Not too long, maybe 2-3 years. Being basically self-taught, I think my style evolved from a combination of learning from books, studying dutch masters, and from making lots of mistakes.
How much has your environment influenced the work you make?
Hmmm… I am not sure how to answer this one. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and in the surrounding suburbs. Later I moved to Eugene, where I spent my early adult life. Eugene is a fairly far-out trippy-hippy kind of place, especially in the early 2000’s when I was attending the UofO. Although I have never painted a didgeridooist wearing tie-dye, I think that bohemian vibe carries over into my art.
A lot of people assume that I live in the Southwest because I paint a lot of desert scenes. I do have family in Palm Springs, Phoenix, and Tucson, and have been to these hot but beautiful places many times, but I mostly live out of my imagination, and that is what most inspires my work. I have lived back in Portland since 2013 and it’s a fairly artsy city.
What is it about the medieval era of art that inspired you to reference the style?
I think I developed a love of medieval art because of my Catholic upbringing, and being exposed to these types of paintings from a very early age. I love paintings that tell stories, especially when the stories are about death and the supernatural. Also, there are a lot of swords in medieval paintings and swords are awesome.
What is your personal relationship with spirituality and how does that inform your creative practice?
My spiritual practices and art practices are inseparable and completely intertwined. The act of showing up to make art each day is in a way a spiritual practice in the devotional sense. I have about 5 hours of scheduled painting time that I adhere to each day and an hour and a half of drawing first thing in the morning while I am still in the hypnagogic state. I spend a lot of time alone, and being an artist is for me a lot like being a monk. My life is completely dedicated to making art.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was raised Catholic, and although I believed in ghosts and spirits and magic, I always knew that it wasn’t quite right for me. Today, I am a solitary Wiccan practitioner and a Pagan. I work the Wiccan deities, a few old Celtic deities, and quite a few of my own spirits. I also practice yoga. I meditate each day, and my mediation practice is in the style of what Carl Jung referred to as, “active imagination” or what pagans/witches would call, “pathworking”.
I have various spirits that I visit and communicate with and they share their insights with me. The fantasy world that my paintings take place in is called, “The Southwestern Bellows”, and I literally visit this place each day in my mediations. Visiting this imaginal realm is part of my spiritual practice. I speak with the characters in my stories and paintings and they speak back.
Tell us about your love of Aliens?
Well, I would describe it as more of a love/fear relationship. I have always been into aliens. Maybe it was exposure to the XFiles, I am not sure. Maybe it was the time period in which I grew up. I have just always been intensely interested in the subject, and as a kid, it was my worst fear.
Have you seen an alien?
I did see a UFO once in 2009 in Springfield, Oregon. It was eggs-shaped, about the size of a car, and glowing with weird orange energy. It was totally silent and soared at about 30 mph just above the roofs of the neighborhood homes until it disappeared behind the trees.
Tell us about your fascination with magic and psychic phenomena?
As I mentioned earlier, I was raised Catholic, and so from an early age, I was exposed to the idea of ghosts, demons, magic, spirits, and the unseen. I first read about ESP in a book at the public library when I was a little kid and tried the astral projection exercises. I have seen a few ghosts and have had a few out-of-body experiences, but sadly I am not very psychic...but I have had moments!! I sometimes see auras around people and have witnessed unexplained things. I tried so hard as a kid to display telekinetic abilities, but I have never made anything move with sheer mind/willpower alone.
When I was 12, I wanted more than anything to become a werewolf or a vampire, or both. So, I am obsessed with the mystery of death, what lies beyond the veil and accessing the hidden/lost/latent human abilities as well as the possibility of life beyond the Earth. Isn’t everyone??
Are you familiar with Occultism / Esoterica ? If so could you expand on your interest in those areas?
Definitely! I began reading about aliens, ghosts, and psychic phenomena as a kid, and as a teenager, I started diving into magic and witchcraft. Other than a few Ouija board sessions, and some spells, I didn’t truly start a serious practice until later. In college, I collected books on ceremonial magick and the Golden Dawn and I was also introduced to Celtic mythology during this time as well. Folklore of the British Isles was actually my favorite class in college. Of course Crowly, and a bit of chaos magick too.
For a long time, my interest in Occultism was more strictly for informing my early fiction-writing pursuits. In my mid-30’s, I started a meditation practice and a yoga practice, and about four years ago, I quit drinking alcohol. It was at this time that I decided to really dial in all areas of my life including my spirituality. And so, wanting a spirituality that embraced the idea of ghosts, psychic powers, spirits, creativity, reverence for the earth, and the practice of magick, I decided to adopt Wicca as my religion. Also, I already owned a book on the subject. It has been a really positive and grounding part of my life, and I think having a solid spiritual foundation has not only aided my art practice but has improved all areas of my life.
Maybe one day my spiritual practice will help me to communicate with aliens.... Or, maybe I am already in communication.
Have you ever done San Pedro, Ayahuasca, LSD, DMT, shrooms, etc….?
I ate mushrooms a few times in 1999 and really didn’t enjoy myself. I remember my friend turning into a werewolf, which was mega-unchill. Psychedelics really aren’t for me. These days I am happily sober. I don’t drink or do drugs….. anymore.
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