American Urban Artist Interview
Antonius Jansen Artist Interview - August 2006
+1 ::: Why are
you an artist Marcus?
I do not know why humans were created
as artists. I don't believe this is a
decision one actually makes, rather a
calling or a recognizing that we are all
artists in some way shape or form. I just
happen to be one of those individuals
who have found that calling within me
and pursue it professionally while being
accepted by others for doing so.
::: Could you tell us some more about
My paintings are mixed media works on
largely canvas but not solely. They are
works that are a depiction of my own soul
and thoughts using vague gestures of the
urban environment that is constantly in
a change of decay or rebuilding, as a
platform or stage to communicate to others.
They are a cross between various Expressionistic
approaches such as Abstract Expressionism,
Expressionism, Graffiti art, Digital elements
and pop art. I deemed them Modern Urban
+3 ::: A lot
of artists paint pretty landscapes or
nudes, so why do you paint the urban landscape?
Do you see beauty in the dark back streets
of the city?
The Urban landscape is this century's
center of happenings, good and bad. It
is also where most of us have to be associated
with at one point in order to survive
and make money. The Hopi Indians refer
to the Urban environments as "Prairies
of Stone". Beauty is everywhere if
we just pay attention, indeed this is
probably one of my key messages in the
work. Even a "dark back street"
can be fascinating, in fact may bring
out more character than a classic pretty
landscape where everything is "perfect"
or what the majority perhaps considers
"pretty" to be.
Life is perception and with my work it
allows us to explore other perceptions.
Being that a lot of artists as you mentioned
paint pretty landscapes, it was not of
interest to me to do the same.
+4 ::: What artists
have influenced you, and how?
Probably more than I know, however the
Urban landscape itself has been a huge
inspiration. As I see it it as a collective
art piece of mankind on a huge concrete
canvas where everyone has a voice. Either
through Billboards, Graffiti art, posters,
you name it, we are all represented in
this environment of expression. First
influences have certainly been Graffiti
artists in New York in 1970's while I
resided there and how this form of expressive
art changed the landscape of urban America
and now the world cities that include
romantic cities like Paris France, Amsterdam
Holland etc. Robert
Rauschenberg, Hundertwasser, Jackson
Michel Basquiat were also influences.
Pretty much the best in their field have
+5 ::: What other
interests do you have (besides painting)?
My family. I have a beautiful wife and
two beautiful sons. We are fortunately
able to spend a lot of time together due
to my being at home and working from home
in my studio. I like soccer and various
forms of art, music, performing arts,
etc. We are a very artistically open minded
+6 ::: What inspires
you to paint and how do you keep motivated
when things get tough in the studio?
I get inspiration from anywhere now a
days. My works is in many ways biographical.
People that know me know that much of
my past is in my work. Infact it would
be safe to say that you can always find
me in my work through various characters
that represent a certain mood or situation.
With that, I hope that others build a
dialogue trough the work. The daily News
inspires me, since we are so hammered
with it these days, much of it being distorted
news or not quite accurate news, I try
to dig for facts from various "reliable"
sources and come up with my own interpretation
through art of what I feel about the subject,
to serve as a voice rather than just a
pretty picture on the wall. This is a
time where artists should focus on the
now and act as their own voice rather
than just painting for the industry in
+7 ::: How have
you handled the business side of being
By now I have gotten use to it, after
almost ten years. I also have support
from my wife who occasionally does the
administrative side as well as responds
to emails etc. We have a publisher in
Seattle and a copyright agent in New York
City that handles licensing as well as
two Permanent Galleries, one in Beverly
Hills Los Angeles and the first solely
committed Jansen gallery in Paris France.
We work with famous auctioneers in France
and have much local support.
Since I knew nothing about the business
of art when we started professionally
ten years ago, I was able to learn what
needs to be learned from scratch. This
allowed me to make many learning experiences
that I used as opportunities to expand
my knowledge of the contemporary art scene
I am now quite comfortable with what we
have accomplished. We have International
clients and sell a majority of my work
online from www.marcusjansen.com.
In addition we are collected by Museums
internationally and many consider us as
leaders in the contemporary Urban art
movement that has been boiling for quite
some time on an underground level. We
are proud to have been one of the first
in visual art that were actually online
selling urban work in this genre since
1997. At that time there very few artists
that were making a living online that
we encountered and there was no other
"urban works" available. You
can find it everywhere now. My first book
is being released in November 2006, it
will be available online and this will
be another step in the forward direction.
+8 ::: Where
do you see yourself in 10 years?
Within the next ten years I envision us
to have a Marcus Antonius Jansen Gallery
besides the one in Paris now and will
be in Various more Museum collections
around the world.
+9 ::: What's
the best and worst parts of being a full
time, working artist?
Best, is you see your family all the time
and have no one to answer to except your
wife and kids :-)
Worst, you don't get out as much anymore,
unless you make it a point to go out and
meet people. You also have to be productive
at all times, but isn't it like that anywhere?.
+10 ::: What
advice would you give to an artist just
The same way you craft your art piece
is the way you will have to craft your
career. Artists are no longer bound to
Galleries for sales in the 21st Century
as long as Internet is available to the
masses for free, which I am almost certain
will change one day soon. You are your
own business person. Do not sign your
work away. Make sure you keep the rights
over your work. It is yours!