1xRUN Thru Interview
Moshi-Moshi by Mark Sarmel
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about the original piece, is it still for sale? What was it created or drawn with?
Mark Sarmel: The original is created in 2012 for the inaugural Red Bull House of Art show in Detroit and it is for sale here at 1xRUN. The original painting is 18×24″ acrylic on canvas and is available for $400.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
Mark Sarmel: This was the first piece I created in a body of work that revolves around the connections between Japanese and American culture. In this body of work I’m attempting to explore my love of both cultures and highlight the way each influences the other. For this piece in particular I wanted to show my affinity for the phrase “Moshi Moshi”. The phrase “Moshi Moshi” is typically used by the Japanese when answering the phone. Though there are many stories as to what it means exactly (including being a way to deduce if you are speaking with a ghost or because a mischievous fox cannot say moshi), but over time it has simply become a greeting for when one answers the phone.
1xRun: How long did the piece take?
Mark Sarmel: It took significantly less time than I normally spend on a painting. I was very excited to paint this piece and I wanted it to be a bit looser than most of my work so worked fast and tried not to fuss over it too much.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece?
Mark Sarmel: The pattern on her fingernails will be different for each print.
1xRun: Why should people buy this piece and print?
Mark Sarmel: It is a simple fun piece, but it also holds a special meaning for me as it was the start of a new direction in my personal work.
1xRun: Describe the piece in one gut reaction word.
Mark Sarmel: Fun.
1xRun: When did you first start making art? What was your first piece?
Mark Sarmel: I’ve drawn ever since I was a child. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done that I can point to and say, “This is me”. My first piece was probably a shitty Crayola scribble like most everyone else. The only difference between me and everyone else is I never stopped scribbling.
1xRun: What artists inspired you early on?
Mark Sarmel: Early on it was comic artists like Jim Steranko and Jack Kirby (Artists for Marvel Comics). There are multitudes of unnamed comic artists that shaped me and still do. I was raised Catholic so religious Renaissance art has always moved me too. I didn’t know there names back then, but it was classic master’s like Da Vinci, Caravaggio and Michelangelo. The 80’s were a pivotal time for me as cartoons began changing my life, but not normal cartoons. Crazy shit cartoons. When I was far too young an Aunt of mine snuck me in to see Pink Floyd’s The Wall which changed me in ways I can’t even imagine. I remember seeing animated movies like Fire and Ice and Heavy Metal too. Robotech, Voltron and Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira showed me whole new worlds. As a teenager Aeon Flux completely blew my mind. It’s not a cartoon, and it was made in ’79, but the gang movie the Warriors also was quite pivotal for me. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see it until the mid ’80’s though. Outside of cartoons and comics I also began to follow the graffiti scene and artists like Barry McGee, and Shepard Fairey. I found Juxtapoz magazine one day and artists like Robert Williams and Glenn Barr showed me worlds I never knew existed. I began to appreciate typography around this time due to a cousin who made awesome graffiti inspired drawings. I remember picking up Ray Gun magazine one day and being punched in the face by David Carson’s designs. During this whole time I was still spending every penny I had on comic books and guys like Frank Miller, Mike Allred and Mike Mignola were bringing me to new schools of comic art.
1xRun: What artists inspire you now?
Mark Sarmel: Many of my influences are still grounded in comics. The artist Paul Pope has been a huge influence on me personally and my art as well. I also follow other comic artist guys like Frank Quietly, Nathan Fox, Adrian Tomine, Jordan Crane, Alexis Ziritt, Rafael Gramp and numerous others. For my more fine art side I am a huge Gustav Klimt fan. Egon Schiele as well. Vania Zouravliov, Sam Weber and James Jean are modern masters to me. I basically just consume as much media as possible. I’m moved by so much stuff out there. It’s just amazing how much art we have access to in this day and age.
1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?
Mark Sarmel: I always listen to music when I work. It depends on my mood, but lately it’s mainly rap and hip hop. For some reason I can get enough of shit like Kanye, Waka Flaka, Whiz Kalifa, and Lil’ Wayne. I pull out classics by Blackstar, Common, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli a lot too. On another spectrum I often zone out to electronic music like Apparat, Burial or Circlesquare. I also have a few favorites that I always go back to like Morphine, Tricky and Tom Waits. It depends on my mood.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why?
Mark Sarmel: I’m not sure, but it would probably be with a comic artist. Paul Pope or Alexis Ziritt maybe. Sam Weber just so I could steal some tricks from him.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any deceased artists who would it be and why?
Mark Sarmel: Salvador Dali. Gustav Klimt. Albrecht Durer.
1xRun: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it?
Mark Sarmel: God I don’t know. I consider comics art so it was probably a comic book.
1xRun: What was the last piece of art that you bought?
Mark Sarmel: A print by Ron Zakrin.
1xRun: What else do you have in the works?
Mark Sarmel: Most recently I launched a line of t-shirts, silkscreen prints and mini sketchbooks called The Master Planner centered around some of my design work. You can see it over at my Etsy store here. I’m putting together a book of sketches and finished work that will be out by the end of the year. It will be print on demand and affordable for all! This year I also hope to finally do another comic book, but I’ll be realistic and say I’m doing a three to four page mini comic instead. I’m also releasing a pair of limited edition silkscreen prints soon too, so follow me on my Facebook page for updates as to when they will be out.
1xRun: Anything else you would like to add?
Mark Sarmel: I love making art and thanks to 1xRun for doing a print with me. I’m super stoked and I hope people buy my prints so I can make more!
1xRun: Where else can people find you on the internette?
Mark Sarmel: Website – Tumblr – Flickr – Facebook – Etsy – Twitter/Instgram @marksarmel