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Interview with Mark Warren Jacques

Juxtapoz // Monday, 08 Feb 2010

Let your tired eyes rest on the expertly crafted lines and soothing colors of Mark Warren Jacques’ paintings. He may seem an artist disconnected with reality and floating in space yet he is fully grounded in the world of fine art, design, and business.


This Portland based poet creates paintings that speak of order, detail, symmetry, and fluidity. At the same time they are pictures of a free spirit, an imagination that wanders along each curvy line into the next. They are delicate and bold, cosmic and natural. Keep your eyes on Mark Warren Jacques for he is one of a kind and he is a master of all things lovely. You never know where he’ll take you.  Read on for Mark's two cents on the ladies, where his design company is going, and how he's "Shredding the Now."--Kirsten Incorvaia

Kirsten Incorvaia: Explain a typical day in Portland for you.


Mark Warren Jacques: Wake up. Go back to sleep. Wake up. Go back to sleep. Wake up. Stare in complete joy at the ceiling telling it that I am thankful to have lived through another dinosaur eating me dream. Laugh at least twice at the absurdity of being alive. Do 20 push-ups. Shit, shower, brush the teeth. Say to myself while staring intensely into my own eyes in the foggy mirror "it is a beautiful day today, today will be beautiful, it is good to be alive, work hard today, enjoy life" then I make a funny face by scrunching up my nose and laugh again at myself and the absurdity of it all.


For the rest of the day I try to do what I have been calling "Shredding the Now" where I live free and work hard, happily, on all sorts of creative projects and camping trips and thinking trips and painting trips.


Actually that was just today that all this happened, realistically every day is much different in terms of what I'm going through. Sometimes I'm sad, and sometimes I'm pissy, and sometimes I can’t stop smiling. I always drink coffee though, coffee is a cornerstone.

How do skateboarding and art work together in your mind?


By Shredding the Now I allow myself the fantasy of constantly "riding the wave." The skateboard is a vehicle just as painting is a vehicle and a poem is and music is or talking to friends or making love or answering questions for the Juxtapoz blog, these are all waves that I am hopefully having a blast shredding.... ha. And if I'm not having fun then hopefully I will mindfully put myself where the waves are good. Though some waves get gnar and I eat shit, still laughing. I will always believe in myself and what I’m into.


Ten years of skateboarding and falling and falling and falling has taught me the ability to persevere and believe in what I’m into with committed actions and thought. Well that, or I’m idiot for thrashing the proverbial me all the time. There are other ways that skateboarding has followed me through life and given me freedoms I otherwise may not have discovered. Style, creativity, hot dogin, cheering your friends on, getting heckled, getting treated like shit by authority, doing your own thing in the face of authority, realizing how exciting it is that both you and the authority have the right to be doing whatever you’re doing whenever you’re doing it. That ultimately all these marble benches and nice short steel handrails, and tall skyscrapers, and fancy gallery openings, and fancy shoes, and all of it, it’s all meaningless unless you put some meaning toward it. And so I push myself to stay stoked and do it right and do it for myself and my friends and trust in fun and love.
Favorite skaters?


David Wien.


What do you call your orbs of swirling lines?


A girl whom I've never met from Taiwan recently emailed me some complements on my paintings in beautifully broken English. Aside from being flattered, I was fascinated by the directness the language barrier caused. I decided to ask her to ask me some questions about whatever she wanted in hopes to get some more of that weird broken English. The first question she sent is by far my favorite, and I think offers one answer (though not specifically my own) to your question.


She asked, “I was shocked when the first time I see your work: ‘The Optimistic Mind." I saw a giant eye staring at me with deep sympathy, the white triangle make the eye more unstable, the painting seem to ask me: ‘Why are you looking at me?’ I was so excited to tell my friend what I found, but she replied me coldly: ‘I can only see a human ass hole in the middle.’ Do you have any comment about this work between eye and human ass hole?”


How long do you spend on each painting?


As long as it takes girl. Imagine saying "As long as it takes girl" in a slow patient Southern drawl. "Azzzzzzz loohhhhnnnng azzzzzz ehtttt tahhheeyykes guurrrl." That’s how I paint.

How are you influenced by James Mitchell and Timothy Karpinski?


They are my buddies, we share a studio in Portland together. As diligent artists and beer drinkers alike we all buy beer and share it during long hours logged. Sometimes Tim or James will buy a bunch of beer and I will have a bunch and we all know some of the influences too many beers can have on oneself. I have ruined a few good paintings in this manner. I don't mind though, I am happy that I get to share the studio with good buddies that drink beer, and that influences me.


What do you see when you look at the photography of Francesca Woodman?


Classic beauty, a mysterious darkness, thoughtful execution, action as expression, power, innocence.


She is great, everyone should see her photos.

Girls that you like are ___


I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.


I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
s that I do not see you but love you blindly.


Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.


In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.




Explain Totally Okay and what we can expect to see from it in the future.


Totally Okay is my umbrella nom de plume of sorts. Originally conceived as an independent publishing company, it's now evolved into an identity for all the projects I work on that are not paintings or fine art. So like non-painting un-fine art ha. There is quite a bit in the oven, and the inviting smell of donuts and chicken tenders lingers. So we will see. is a website that has little to no more information about itself.

What music did you listen to 10 years ago?


The Insane Clown Posse and Sonic Youth. Laughing really hard aloud.


Best music to paint to.


It’s constantly changing.  Recently I have been listening to a lot of Ethiopian jazz, and African lo fi rock, as well as Mia Nolting (my other studio mate) practicing piano. Mia has her grandmother’s 100-year-old piano separating our studio spaces. The sound is old and beautiful.


Best music to listen to live.


My Bloody Valentine.


If you never had to worry about money again, how would you live your life?


I think about money and occasionally deal with money but I do not worry about money anymore. I've found that you must think about money occasionally. Particularly if you’re going to make a way for yourself as a creative in this capitalist system we are born into without choice. (Who chooses to be born anyway?)


Now whether you find this system to be totally shit, your major cause for unhappiness or however you feel about it, we are part of a money system. Especially as Americans we are part of a money system with a long-standing bloody history. I used to be a bit of an escapist when it came to money, like "okay I’m not going to think about money at all, I hate money, I should drop out and escape this shit." It would drive me crazy to see everyone, my friends included, turn into fucking ugly people when it came to money. This still gets me down from time to time. However I have discovered that within myself there is a place for everything, and money has its little room in my brain and to the same extent in my heart. I don't by any means love money, but I do not hate money either, it simply is what it is. If I find myself without it, I figure it out, it effects me in its natural way, and I don’t worry about it, worry leads to anger and anger leads to hate and I’m all about the love girl. Imagine saying that in a slow Southern drawl too "I’m alllllll ahhbout thaa love guurrrl."

Why is art Important?


Oh boy. I’m tired of what I have to say about that. Maybe ask me that question again in a couple months.


What is your #1 goal at the moment?


Portland artist/good buddy/amazing man Seth Neefus and I are working together on a traveling art installation that is to tour the West Coast this summer. The project is called Free Life Center, and I am absolutely stoked to be working on it. We have received some amazing support from our local community, had the materials donated for the project by The ReBuilding Center, raised funds for the construction through, and partnered with a number of rad creative individuals and companies, such as Lifetime Collective and Together Gallery. It’s going to be a summer of freedom for sure.


Please check out for more information.


That and Love. Love is my all time number one goal guuurrrllll.


Mark has an upcoming solo exhibition, "For this, I would lean into it" from April 1 - 30 at Flatcolor Gallery. Opening Reception 1 April 2010 5-9pm. 528 First Avenue South. Seattle, WA 98104.


And a solo exhibition: "Absolutely". May 6 – 27. Stumptown 3rd Ave.Opening Reception 6 may 2010 7 - 9pm. 128 Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR


He will also show at White Walls in SF in a group exhibition on April 3rd.


Check out more of his work at



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