Interview: Robert Mars

Die Arbeiten von Robert Mars, Hybride zwischen Collage und Gemälde, entführen in eine längst vergangene Zeit, die so eigentlich nie wirklich existierte.

Im kollektiven Bewusstsein der popkulturgeprägten Generationen ist die Mitte des Zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts zur Epoche der Hipster und Beatpoeten, des Cool Jazz und Rock’n’Roll, der grossen amerikanischen Nacht und der Route 66 verklärt worden — den Archetypen, aus denen Mars seine Inspiration bezieht, die seinen Werken einen sofortigen Wiedererkennungswert verleihen, auch wenn man sie zum ersten Mal betrachtet.

Im Interview erzählt er von seinem Werdegang, dem Einfluss des Skateboardens auf sein Leben und seine Kunst sowie von seinen Plänen für die Zukunft.

The Past

For as long as I can remember I have always been creative.

EnjoyYourself-40x40Diskursdisko: Hi Robert. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start painting?

Robert Mars: For as long as I can remember I have always been creative.

After high school I attended Parsons School of Design in New York City. I studied graphic design and illustration but I always had a greater passion for painting.

While working in the skateboarding industry in 1996-2001 I was working on a body of paintings with no set style. In 2001 I put skateboarding to the side for 2 years to focus on art and define my style. I started showing that body of work in 2002 and have been exploring it since then.

The Art

I find the 60’s holds most of my interest with advertising, automobiles, architecture and the general look of America at that time.

VitalStatistic-48x36Diskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your art? Do you have a system or method that you adhere to?

Robert Mars: Over the years I have developed a method of making art. It is a combination of brown paper bags, gel medium, vintage ephemera such as Life magazines, newspapers, Playboy magazines, road maps, and anything relevant to that era.

I have a wall that I collage images for use in my work so as I paint I have them in front of me to work with. I choose color and final image before I start a piece but let it flow and change as I build layers of paint and collage. My style is set and now it plays off of the nuances of detail.

Diskursdisko: What inspires you?

Robert Mars: The world around me is inspiring. Living in New York I find accidental art in subway ads that have been removed and you can see the layering and history of what was there prior. Over time this creates nice textures and random pattern.

Road trips inspire me. Small desert towns with that Route 66 feel inspire me. Great art inspires me. My wife inspires me.


Diskursdisko: Your artwork is all about mid-century Americana, using collaged images from the 50s and 60s, while still feeling modern – how did you develop this style?

Robert Mars: I developed this style over many years. I come from a graphic design and illustration background so I feel that keeps my work looking contemporary. I started my interest in the 70’s. This era was important for myself as it holds great memories of my childhood. As I started to really investigate my interest in these years I grew a curiosity for the time before I was alive, particularly the 60’s. I find the 60’s holds most of my interest with advertising, automobiles, architecture and the general look of America at that time. It was about doing a lot of research and digging deep into American history through books, internet and magazines.

SweetSmooth-24x24Diskursdisko: You’ve also designed skateboards. Can you tell us a bit about the process of finding the right imagery to fit the limited space of a deck whilst still satisfying your own artistic vision?

Robert Mars: Skateboard design was something that I was always interested in. I picked up a skateboard in 1985 and at that time felt that it was a creative outlet both phsyically as well as creatively. It has had a huge impact on me as a person as well as an artist. After college I landed jobs in Los Angeles working for World Industries and Element Skateboards and got to see the ins and outs of the skateboard industry.
Designing skateboards is the same as any other creative process in that it is all about problem solving. When designing decks you get your brain into thinking about that limited space. When I design for companies I think of how to combine the companies style with my own personal style but in the end it is to satisfy the client.

The Web

I love working on commissions with people so that it has a special meaning for them as well!

StrictlyForMen-40x30Diskursdisko: You’ve obviously got the website at, any other presences on the web you’d like to publicize? Social networking?

Robert Mars: is an older site that used to showcase my apparel line which I have since stopped in order to focus on my galleries. You can also see my work at, my
blog, and flickr; and at the gallery sites that represent me which are linked to at my main website.

Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?

Robert Mars: I use the internet to do research for my extensive roadtrips as well as read about history. I use flickr to find Americana icons, neon signs and interesting areas, then cross reference it with google maps and street view and construct comprehensive maps!

I also spend time just keeping current on what shows are going on in other cities and keep up with other artists that I admire. I am influenced by artists like Jeff Schaller, Ellwood T Risk, Peter Mars (No relation), Melody Postma, Ted Larsen, Randall Reid, Adam Haynes, Kareem Rizk and Brandon McLean all for different reasons but they all have a unique perspective of the world.

Diskursdisko: Of all the work you’ve created, or at least the ones showcased on your website, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?

Robert Mars: I connect with all of my pieces, but my all time favorite piece is “Palms Motel” which was the anchor piece for a show I had at Kidder Smith Gallery in 2007. It was the first piece that I completed for the show and I respond to it compositionally, as well as the colors and image. I also love working on commissions with people so that it has a special meaning for them as well!


The Future

I update my blog at least a few times a week, so you can always keep up with my shows as well as new artists that I am looking at.

HowGoodItIs-48x36Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?

Robert Mars: I have been slowly working on a body of work based on matchbook artwork from the 1950s – 1970s. (Sweet, Smooth, Sassy, Sturdi-Bilt and Strictly For Men are from this series)

I will step away from the photograph transfers and paint the imagery. It has been an exciting (but slow) process as I have all of my galleries to keep stocked with art. Look for a full show sometime in 2010.

Diskursdisko: Robert, many thanks for the interview – is there anything you’d like to add?

Robert Mars: Thank you for your interest in my artwork and for the interview. I update my blog at least a few times a week, so you can always keep up with my shows as well as new artists that I am looking at.

Dieses Interview erscheint als Diskursdisko/Spreeblick-Crossposting.

Vincent Wilkie hat diesen tollen Beitrag verfasst. In seiner Freizeit ist er Musiker, Webdesigner und DJ.

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