Mark Mitchell is an international multimedia artist, specializing in painting conceptual pop art. As a Pratt Manhattan graduate, School of Visual Arts alumnus, and former advertising creative director, he spent his entire career honing his visual and communication skills. Mitchell’s work has been exhibited during Art Basel Miami, at and also at Scope and Select Art Fairs. In the past few years, he was awarded seven times as an Art Slant Prize Showcase Winner. In early 2016, he launched HIDDEN AGENDA: The Conceptual Pop Art of Mark Mitchell — a large-scale solo multimedia month-long exhibition at The Melvin Gallery at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. He also won a Purchase Award at Gasparailla Festival of the Arts.
His work has shown in galleries and museums all over the Tampa Bay Region, and Mitchell is now the proud recipient of the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grant 2019-20, and kicked off the year with a solo exhibition at TECO Public Art Gallery in Tampa. As a WADA member, he was recently selected for commission by both MODERN TAMPA BAY HOMES and FAIRGROUNDS PROJECTS. Mark will also be the featured artist to be showcased permanently in the lobby and common areas of a new national hotel property, opening soon in the Tampa Bay area (TBA). And he currently has four originals exhibiting on artsy.net via BG Gallery in Santa Monica, CA.
Always in pursuit of “The Big Idea”, Mark has learned how to put concept first, and manipulate imagery to surprise, provoke and reward the viewer. Mitchell’s approach as a fine artist is to draw on the power of mass media and pop culture, while repurposing its icons, imagery and techniques to deliver a more personal artistic statement. Through the use of meaningful juxtaposition and social commentary, Mark Mitchell’s work is an exploration of the irony, contradiction, parallels and harmony to be found in 21st-century life.
We asked Mark some questions about his art and inspiration:
How long have you been a full-time artist?
Conceptual Pop Art has been my prime focus for the past 10 years. That’s when I left my NYC advertising career behind and relocated to St Pete with my wife. I really needed to clear my mind and devote all my energy into establishing my painting style and developing a consistent body of work, which continuers to this day. That said, I continue to do a fair amount of commercial freelance work on the side—some art direction and design, as well as occasional voiceover projects that help pay the bills.
What is your medium and how did you arrive at it?
I paint in acrylic on canvas, which was a choice I made after starting with oils and becoming frustrated with the lengthy drying times, as well as toxic fumes from solvents. I made it my goal to achieve similar results with acrylics, and I’m happy overall with the technique at which I’ve arrived, and am breathing easier.
What inspires your art?
I’d say the answer is twofold. From a style standpoint, it’s the bold colorful imagery of classic Pop Artists like Rosenquist, Wesselman, Lichtenstein and Warhol—as well as current pop/street artists like Ron English, Banksy, Tristan Eaton, and so many more—including some amazing local artists and muralists. I feel like my style is a kind of mash-up of all my influences, refined through a filter that’s all me. But subject matter is another story. Since my work is thematic, my ideas are often “ripped from the headlines.” I find myself ruminating over current events, social issues, or topics that may be slightly under-the-radar. Lately they’re often issues around new technology, human behavior, and the relationship between the two. So, I set out with a theme, and use the canvas to convey my perspective on the topic, as a means to provoke viewers to think a bit, or spark a conversation.
Are you a St. Petersburg native? What is it like to be an artist here?
I’ve been here ten years. Not sure when I get to call myself a native! But no, i’m originally from New York. One of the things that drew me here, and continues to excite me is the connectivity of the St Pete arts community. I feel that I landed in a diverse artist colony of sorts—with a wide range of disciplines and experience who (mostly) have a great rapport and are happy to support each other’s artistic journeys. We have everything from high to lowbrow, museum to gallery to street, and so much talent! It’s nice to be in such good company, and it seems the opportunities for artists here continue to expand. As the city continues to build, grow and welcome new residents, I look forward to an influx of serious art patrons and collectors, as well as an even more robust and authentic gallery presence.
Why did you join the Warehouse Arts District Association?
I’ve been a fan of WADA, its studios and galleries for years now—especially MGA Sculpture and Soft Water Studios, where I was honored with a Best-In-Show award. I was curious for a while about joining WADA as an off-site artist. As someone with a home studio, I liked how WADA offered open calls, an online profile, publicity and connection with other members. When the Modern Tampa Bay Homes commission opportunity was announced, it seemed like the perfect time to take the plunge. Very happy I did! As a result, I was selected as one of eight featured artists offered for potential commission to new townhome owners in Ad Lofts, now under construction in St Pete!
Finally, is there anything else you'd like to say?
It’s been a big thrill and honor to have been awarded a Creative Pinellas arts grant this year—a program including personal mentorship for me by the great Steven Kenny, blog writing, new art creation, virtual artists talks, studio tours and an online exhibition. And after a months-long pandemic delay, I’m happy to say the real-life Emerging Artist Gallery Exhibition is now finally open to the public! Among a lot of wonderful other grant winner’s work, the show features my largest piece to-date—a nine foot wide triptych called “Distracted Driving”. I’ve also included three new small pieces currently on display that carry the distraction theme through. I encourage anyone interested to check out my website to learn more at www.markmitchellstudio.com. You can also find Mark Mitchell Studio on Facebook and follow me on Instagram @mmstudioart.