Mark Phillips

IG: @mcempyre

Artist Bio

My art education background is actually very slim. As a kid, I made these little cityscapes that I would “play” inside. Usually these cities were filled with war scenes, helicopters and stick figure soldiers.

Then, sometime around middle school I started drawing graffiti letters and exploring graffiti culture. I became obsessed with the compositions of these insane graffiti murals. I ached to find a similar flow to my pieces for years. By the time senior year ended, I was well-versed in letter drawing but was now on my way to join the U.S. Marines.

Even under strict military supervision, I still managed to find time to draw. At this time, my only real inspiration for art came from graffiti writers. I had no taste of any other genre of artwork and didn’t have a desire for it, either. So, for years all I did was graffiti until eventually I stopped drawing and playing with markers all together.

I spent 4 years in active military service and every volunteering opportunity in Orange County was mandatory. Car washes to elementary school carnivals, we were there to lend the muscle. My need to feel others feeling elated was always reason enough for helping when I could. They often returned the favor in very generous ways.

My military service had came to an end, I moved back home to Modesto, California and I found work in a small warehouse not long after. This would eventually lead to a psychotic episode.

My reality was starting to fracture and I turned to substance abuse in an attempt to “look away” from the real problems. I abruptly left my job with full support from my employer, as they held my job for me until I got better. I never went back.

A year had passed and things had gotten worse. No more job meant no more money, which meant no more substance abuse, and this meant I had to address my increasingly fading emotive state.

Through these struggles my family, friends and even coworkers would make noticeable effort to keep me from fading further. In this time I started making digital art and exploring photo manipulation to keep the mind occupied when feeling anxious.

While not completely “grounded” yet I took a job in construction, working with tile and stone. Not long after I felt the same feelings (or lack of) and working felt pointless and uninteresting. I made little time for artwork or any healthy habits and was quickly losing general purpose now. It wasn’t until a dinner amongst old friends and some new ones when I was asked an incredibly common question to all artists.

“How long have you been making art?” She said.

“All of my life.” I said.

My purpose had finally revealed itself. My place on our rock was to create and overnight I had a new ferocious hunger to make art and show my journey through it. Why this wasn’t obvious before seemed to coincide with my idea of what an “artist” was at the time. Social media proved to me that it could be done and like everything else, had a crowd waiting to see what you got. My world and inspirations grew exponentially wider.

I’ve posted every digital image I’ve ever made as a way to prove to myself how far I’ve come in the medium. I create art because its instinct now, I’m simply wired that way.

I’m donating to 51 to help set an example to inspire others to chase their passions and know they can do great things. So why not do what I already do to help make a better world for those I know are experiencing the same lows I have?

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