Mark Sgarbossa (US)

Mark Sgarbossa (US)

It would be very difficult for me to be asked what is my top 5, 10 or even 100 gigposters ever. Not only because it may change depending on my mood but, most definitly, because I discover new ones everyday from artists I never heard about in my life. The last time a book dropped out of my hands was...well, I just don't know! But when my eyes ran into Mark Sgarbossa's poster for Shonen Knife, I could not stop laughing looking at this sick idea. It was the starting point of Mark's work discovery for me and it seems, according to this interview that I still have a lot more to discover...

What are we listening to when we come to visit you?

Lately I have been listening to a lot of micro house, artists like Pantha Du Prince. I've also been listening to plenty of Brian Eno as well as early Los Angeles hardcore, like Wasted Youth and (pre Rollins) Black Flag. I find that Ambient pressed up against Punk and Beats somehow help my creative process...

Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?

My name is Mark Sgarbossa, I am an artist and musician from San Diego California. I was born in Vancouver, Canada. I work as an art director/illustrator for a clothing company in Southern California. In addition, I make rock posters for local (and not so local) clubs.

When did you start drawing? Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks?

My mother never gave me a 'colouring book' - she would hand me a stack of blank paper and some pencils and I would just go nuts. I suppose this early independence from being told 'what' to draw, or make, shaped my ability to create. I subsequently studied Painting n'Printmaking at San Diego State University . I definitely learned how to think about 'art' in a more critical way their, if not start to have a little disdain for the so-called "fine art" world...

Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?

Yes, I make my living from my art, It may not always be exactly what I want to design, but I find enjoyment even working on relatively 'dry' projects, and try to bring it to life. I think it's good to challenge yourself daily with things you may have never tried.

Where does your influence come from?

The greatest influences for me visually have been from album art. I collect records and have close to 3000 of them; mostly Punk rock, new wave and Electronica. Music, for me is the starting point of almost anything I do visually.

Skateboard and scooter/mod culture left major impressions upon me growing up.I am also drawn to the cold feel of Italian Futurists, as well as 20th century minimalism....oh yeah, and cartoons.

I sometimes second guess myself being stylistically erratic. There are many gig poster artist's works which are cohesive enough to say "yeah, that's so and so's work". I try to diversify style wise where I can to keep things fresh, not only for the wide range of bands, but so as not to fatigue one look. I honestly try and not to look at a lot of work, try and design in a vacuum as it were. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but I find it keeps what I do (hopefully) coming from my head instead of coming from somebody else's head

What are the principal steps in your work ? Do you do everything by hand or on computer?

Generally speaking, I hand draw some portion of the art and scan it into the computer, from there I manipulate the image etc. I find it is so much more economic time wise to do my composition on the screen -- but that being said, I have used woodcuts, scratch paper, painting, collage etc from start to finish to make a poster.

For which band have you already worked for? For which band would you love to work? Do you choose the artists yourself?

I have designed many posters for a very broad range of musicians, probably the best way to get a sense of exactly 'who' would be to go to my page.

But I enjoy most is when I have a personal relationship with the band. I made a few posters for the Los Angeles based band West Indian Girl, subsequently becoming a friend and band 'artist' (at least for their San Diego shows). At the time West Indian Girl was on Virgin/Astralwerks and they were in need of remixes for an E.P. I was fortunate enough to have one of my remixes chosen by the record label. I always get a kick out of the fact that I am listed in the catalog of Virgin records.

I contacted Gary Daly of Liverpool's China Crisis (New Wave electronic pioneers) to see about making some art for them, I was able to make a tour poster for them and we struck up a friendship. I'm proud of that poster as it represents a full circle from a band being an influence, to me being a participant in their continuing story.

I have made posters for close friends in bands, not to mention my own musical projects so the opportunity to stretch out visually (weather they like it or not) when I work on these more intimate projects is a joy....

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster ?

I suppose coming up with a concept is the hardest part of the process -- the mechanics of making the art once that concept is solid is usually pretty self evident. For example, the main poster of mine that was chosen for the Gigposters Book (Volume II, 2011 Randomhouse books) was One for Shonen Knife. Musically, they have a sort of innocent rawness about them, but still have the 'teeth'.

And they are from Japan; so I thought the Motorhead logo melded with a cute 'Hello Kitty' made perfect sense. That idea came completely out of my head based on some (rather idiotic) logic. Subsequently two days after that poster went up on Gigposters, someone ripped off the idea and their version appeared on a t shirt site. That's the nature of the web, I suppose.

A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it's free, where can we see your work , on the web or in real life? The best praise you received lately? What can we wish you for the future?

This last year I collaborated with Ice Cube (N.W.A. etc) on two art prints which represented an album cover, as well as video of his. You can go see the art as well as an interview with Cube and I, at

As mentioned before I was one of 100 artists world wide chosen to appear in the new Gigposters book. you can check it out at

Also, If you must, you can go check out my very, very bad "website" at least from there you can drop me a line!

Thanks for your time, guys.

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