Interview with Artist Mark Jason Page, part 2

Welcome back for the conclusion of our chat with steampunk and fine art artist, Mark Jason Page

Part one can be read here.


Airship Ambassador: Continuing our chat about some specific pieces, there is a sense of whimsy, overall, in the design, and a nice contrast in the blue and gold of the color scheme. What are the various elements which went into it?

Mark Jason Page: I really don’t want to create work that takes itself so deeply serious. I love whimsy and I’m flattered that people use that word when they look at my work. As far as the elements, I hate to sound like a broken record, but again looking at nature. I just thought, how cool would it be to have this carriage, with these brass mechanical dolphins diving up and down as gears turn and copper steam stacks blow. That’s something I’d like to see built!

AA: What kind of research, and then editing, went into creating the Regal Steam Airship and the Blue Legion, the other airship? Were there any elements which you really wanted to be in the image? Anything that you eventually removed?

MJP: To be completely honest, the Regal Steam Airship was pretty spontaneous. I just stated sketching on watercolor paper, playing around with shapes, and that image is just the result of playing around. I mean, I had in mind classic airship designs, bit I think it’s actually an appealing piece because I was having fun. When your having fun it is apparent in your work. The Blue Legion was actually kind of a sequel to The Regal Airship, or maybe I should say it was inspired by that piece.


AA: How about the Seahorse Carriage?

MJP: This piece was an effort to produce something within the same aquatic theme as the Dolphin Steam Carriage. I want to continue to produce work with this same mechanical, sea creature inspired design.

AA: And the Steam Goldfish?

MJP: This piece was really inspired by the idea of some sort of time machine, with my signature nod to nature.

AA: What can you share at this stage about the book project with these and other images?

MJP: Well the airship and other vehicles are my fine art pieces, but they might find their way into a book of some sort. As far as the book project I’m working on now, I’ll say it definitely portrays a world filled with steam punk inventions. Mostly steam punk animal inventions. I can’t say too much yet, but over the next months, you’ll see more and more revealed about the book. I’m posting quite a bit of the illustrations on Instagram (@markjpage) and I’ve tweeted some of the images as well (@mpageca) so I can hopefully start to gain a small following. I plan to start posting the work to my blog as well when I get time( By the way, I must thank you for retweeting my work on twitter. Can’t thank you enough!

AA: You are more than welcome, it’s my pleasure to share your work with everyone. Aside from my jaw-dropping response, what are some memorable fan reactions to your work which you’ve heard about? Aside from your website, where can people see your work in person? Are they shown at any conventions?

MJP: Well I self published a comic book called “Kana’s Island”, back in probably 2005. I sold it on my website, at little book signings, and finally in 2006 I got a booth at the San Diego Comic-Con and was one of the nominees for the “Best Newcomer” award. That was crazy, I had people coming up to my table from France and Italy who had purchased the comic online and were already fans! That blew my mind! As far as my new work, I’ve only shown in a couple of shows, but I plan to and hope to do more art shows. As a matter of fact, I will be part of a show at Disneyland in California at the Disneyana gallery on main street. The show is slated for February but the dates are still being figured out. I’ll post the dates on my website once the show is formally announced. Once my current book project is done, I will be at Comic-con again, and also hope to display my “Fantastical” airship pieces.


AA: If you weren’t an artist, what else would you be doing now?

MJP: I’d probably be a chef. I love cooking, and it’s still a creative occupation.

AA: What do you do to keep a balance between art, work, and the rest of your life?

MJP: I’d have to say most importantly my spiritual routine helps me stay grounded. Also working out helps as well. I wish I had more time for the latter.

AA: Do you get to talk much with other artists to compare techniques, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?

MJP: Oh yeah, especially at work. I’m surrounded by creative people everyday, so I have plenty of opportunities to compare techniques, get critiques on stuff I’m working on ( both work related projects and my own work), and we have brainstorm sessions all the time for new attractions.

AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?

MJP: I think I’ve become a better draftsman because I love to draw and I do it so much. I think I’ve also gotten faster at detecting why a design is not working so I can problem solve faster.

AA: How is California for your work? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc

MJP: I would say that location does matter in my opinion, and that depends on what kind of creative work you want to do. California is home to many entertainment companies from film, special FX ships,video games,animation. There are also many galleries here as well, so I would say that California is a prime location for artist, and especially artists who want to work in the entertainment industry.

AA: Overall, who would you count as your inspirations and motivators?

MJP: My wife is a big inspiration and motivator. Even when I start doubting my work, she always boosts my confidence and helps me silence that inner critic. Walt Disney is also an inspiration. The fact that this man had so many obstacles that stood in his way but he wouldn’t let anything stop him from pursuing his vision.


AA: Looking beyond steampunk and your work, what other interests fill your time?

MJP: I really enjoy digital sculpting in zbrush, and I’m always thinking of stories for books or graphic novels.

AA: What other fandoms are you part of in some way? (as a fan or other participation)

MJP: Oh I love sci-fi stuff as well. Of corse I love the whole star wars universe. Comics and graphic novels, so I love the Comic-con. I’m a big fan of animation of every sort, 2D, 3D, stop motion, etc.

AA: How do those interests influence your work?

MJP: Well I think they influence my take on steam punk inspired work. As you brought out I have sort of a whimsical touch in my work. I think I blend my vision of steam punk with other genre’s that I enjoy and I think that’s where the whimsy comes from.

AA: Quick random questions – what is your favorite fictional character, food spice, and ringtone/ sound clip?

MJP: Definitely Character: Indiana Jones. Food spice:food spice I guess would be Lawry’s seasoned salt. Sound clip: I hate to disappoint but that one has me a little stumped!

AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers

MJP: I guess , first I’d just like to thank the readers for taking the time to show some interest in me and my work! Airship Ambassador, I have to thank you providing a forum for this forum to talk art and steam punk! Finally, I would say that I hope that your readers were somewhat entertained by my interview and hopefully they are interested enough to follow my artwork as it evolves. I thank you and your readers.


Thanks for joining us, Mark!

Keep up to date with Mark’s work on his fine art website.

Published in: on December 29, 2013 at 11:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Interview with Artist Mark Jason Page

This week we are talking with steampunk and fine art artist, Mark Jason Page.

Airship Ambassador: Hi Mark, I’ll start by saying thanks for joining us, even moreso, thanks for sending me an introduction tweet about your artwork!

Mark Jason Page: Cool Kevin, thanks for taking the time to chat with me about my work!

AA: As one might suspect, I find, and am sent, a large number of links to all kinds of steampunk items and information. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I clicked your link, but I have to say that after the first picture displayed and my jaw dropped open, I was totally captivated by your colorful and whimsical take on steam punk imagery. Before we talk about your work, what was your journey down this creative path?

MJP: Well, I’ve always had a love for I’ll say, contraptions or things that were design with intricate detail. Especially things that seemed to be designed during the industrial revolution. I love the detail that went into designing everything during the Victorian era and all of the beautiful materials used! So I’ve always been fascinated by this type of design and I think I’ve over the years created a mental library.

AA: Ahh, the allure of 1800’s design! What kind of education and experience were part of that journey?

MJP: Well, I think just studying photo’s and old blueprint type drawings from the period, from the architecture to locomotives and things, I just continued to fill my mental visual library with images rivet patterns, gears, beautiful copper pipes, steam, etc.


AA: Today, you are an Imagineer at Disney. Can you share a bit about what that entails? How is working at Disney similar and different than similar creative positions at other companies?

MJP: Yes, I’m a creative lead at Imagineering which usually includes art directing a project. So I’m usually involved with a project from inception all the way to construction. My job is to help give the attraction a visual direction and work with others to tell a cohesive and compelling story for our guests. Going forward everything the team on the project does needs to back up that story. I’m usually tasked with making sure we keep the creative vision and make sure the story is maintained. This can be challenging because all of this has to be done knowing that you have many different disciplines involved, and knowing everyone has to work as a team to make sure what we’re designing can be built and be believable in three dimensions. So I think what we do is different from say an art director for film or video games. With attractions, there’s just the added element of knowing that the end goal is to design something that people can get right up close to it, touch it, ride it.

AA: Working at Disney is a dream for some artists, and it certainly sounds like everyone works hard. Were you drawn to certain topics or subjects for your work?

MJP: If you mean for my personal work, yes I’ve always loved, of course, the imagery that came from some of H.G. Wells writing. Not that I’m totally up on all of his work, but I know I loved the illustrations and films based on his literature.

AA: In creating your work, what are some of the key elements on which you focus?

MJP: I really focus and am interested in mans attempt at trying to replicate nature in design. I love the this idea combined with the optimism and beauty of design during the industrial era. So I love to use elements from fish, or other sea creatures, intricate gear assemblies, copper steam stacks, rivets, I could go on. I love those design aesthetics! I will say that my plans are to incorporate figures and environments into my work. I don’t want my work to always be about just a vehicle.

AA: You’ve definitely succeeded, there. The images are captivating and there is a story waiting to be told by the people in them. What drew you towards creating images in the steampunk aesthetic?

MJP: I think like I mentioned, I just love the detail, the materials used, and the creativity found in the steam punk genre.

AA: What are the inspirations and sources for those images?

MJP: Well, my inspiration comes from a wide variety of things. I love the very early images of these hugely over the top designed airships and zeppelins. As artists go, I’ve been influenced by James Christensen, Richard Bunkall, and Daron Mouradyan just to name a few.


AA: What is your creative process? Is there research involved before the first sketch?

MJP: Usually I have something in mind and I try to just put it down on paper a soon as possible. I don’t want to be influenced yet by anything. After I do that initial sketch, I start looking at reference material and I really try to make compelling shapes within my design. Peoples eyes are naturally drawn to strong shapes or silhouette’s.

AA: Artwork affects people on multiple levels, and there is a connection to each piece for both viewer and creator. Are there elements from your life or the world which make their way into your work?

MJP: Oh definitely. I am a person who believes in a Creator, and I’m awed by the intelligent design, delicacy, beauty, and wisdom found in the natural world. I try as best as I can to pay homage to this notion in my work. As I said before, I’m intrigued by the fact that man tries to replicate nature and it’s interesting to me the different ways in which this is executed aesthetically.

AA: For the aspiring artist, what lessons and advice would you share with them?

MJP: Draw as much as you can, especially from life! Really learn the basics of art and design and don’t stress about a personal style, that will come. Once you do start to develop a personal style, that’s your personal voice. Don’t let anything convince you that your personal voice is not good enough, especially yourself! What I mean by that is, don’t look at what other artist are doing and allow yourself to think that their artistic expression is more valid than yours. This will make you start to doubt your own personal artistic voice.


AA: Looking at the images that are on your website, is there an overall story or theme that ties them together?

MJPage: I’m still conceiving the story for this world that occupies these vehicles. It’s slowly revealing itself to me, but so far I want to tell the story of optimistic design with “Fantastical” vehicles that use steam. This is important to me and represents my desire for the preserving of our environment. Also as I mentioned, a nod to design found in nature, and ultimately to have all of these elements force us to look at things that are important to humanity. Wow, I’m really not that deep, but these are just some of the things I think about when I’m creating my work.

AA: Let’s talk about some specific works of yours. Now in the story *I* made up after looking at your work, all of which needs to hang on my wall, by the way, a certain Ambassador is escorted in the Dolphin Steam Carriage to the nearby airfield to catch the Regal Steam Airship. Would you share some of your thoughts on how you created those images?

MJP: Hey, I like that!!! Yeah, again I think I just want to show that we all use mods of transportation in everyday life, but our vehicles, our surroundings, can be reminders of things that are important in life. I think that’s what I love so much about the design we’ve seen in earlier era’s. In architecture you used to see figures sculpted into facades that told a story. Everything was designed to serve as a reminder of something, or to at least to make you stop and think about the design. Now, much of what we design, is only designed with function in mind, not for the beauty.


We’ll break here in our talk with Mark.

Join us next time when he discusses some specific pieces and some other projects.

Published in: on December 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm  Comments (3)  
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Supporting Steampunk

As another year wanes to a close, we often cannot help but to look back in review before stepping into the next adventure coming our way. With Teslacon and its review still fresh in mind, there are two ideas which stand out to describe what has been and what is coming up – the effect of steampunk, and supporting steampunk.

First, the effect of steampunk. Our community, our fandom, is all about people. We are a giant global family, complete with charismatic cousins and the crazy aunts and uncles. It’s a wild ride sometimes, there’s drama waiting around the corner, the occasional duels at dawn followed, usually, by drinks at the tavern, but in the end, we are all in this together to create an amazing, wonderful, fun experience where we smile and laugh and sing and dance.

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For Teslacon, my friend and fellow Fan Guest of Honor, steampunk author Karina Cooper, and I were on the same flight, and it’s so rewarding when something like a convention, and the travel to get there, is a shared experience. Events in our lives are generally more fun when shared, and is a great way to learn more about others, and connect. Conventions can be like family reunions, too. It’s not just getting to see current friends in person again and catch up, it’s a way to meet new people and make strong connections with others.

In addition to events, we connect with each other online, in social media, forums, and blogs. Internet searches bring a world of creativity right to us, to inspire and motivate us. New friends are just an email, a tweet, or a comment, away.

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In addition to our typical politeness and general willingness to share information and talk, and talk and talk, we are there to really help each other. Not just with a loose button or bit of emergency repair sewing, or even the how-to instructions about something, we are there for each other as people. Sometimes, our smallest actions make the biggest differences to others and we should never forget that. At a convention and just in the community, a simple hello, a compliment on someone’s outfit, can mean a great deal to someone.

During this last year, I heard several stories from fellow steampunks, and shared my own, about how being part of the community affected, and even changed, lives. One person commented on how getting involved helped he and his daughter reconnect through a common interest; people in their teens and twenties shared how steampunk helped them learn more about themselves and others, and find a happier place and path in the world. Steampunk brought some people together, and even kept relationships together.

My own story starts with the death of my partner by suicide. His alcoholism killed him in the end, and the overwhelming grief I felt at his loss remains the most traumatic event of my life. The future we had planned together was suddenly, instantly, gone. Everything changed in that moment, and the world I knew ended. Whatever one might think about losing a partner or spouse is only the palest shadow of what it really feels like.

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While it seems like I was on autopilot most of the time that first year, going to work and taking care of my dogs, the rest of my life just stopped. Greif swamped every other aspect of my life and sucked the energy out of everything. Watching my life was like watching TV, caught up in the story at any given moment but still disconnected from it. Food had no taste, behavior was only routine, and the world seemed to have no substance. A year’s worth of memories are just static, like the old analog tv and radio stations with no signal.

After that first year, I slowly re-engaged with my various interests. There was a bit more reading, a few more movies, a bit more landscaping, and certainly more dinners out with friends. It was about that time when my periodic internet searches for steampunk started turning up more results. There were more crafts, more DIY. There were amazing creations by Jake Von Slatt and the late Richard Nagy. There were some stories, and then music. And finally, there was a local convention, Steamcon.

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It was practically in my backyard and I couldn’t not go. It was a great experience on so many levels and was the next step of my involvement in the burgeoning community. Soon after that, I started this blog, interviewing people, going to more conventions, and generally getting back out in the world in a meaningful way.

So, thank you, all of you who make up our community – everyone I’ve met out and about, those who have emailed, and those I haven’t met yet. Each of you have an impact on someone every day, whether you ever know it or not, so please keep being the wonderful steampunk that you are. You matter, and you matter to me.

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Which leads us to the second idea, supporting steampunk. As Eric Larson reminded the attendees of Teslacon this year, steampunk is our fandom, our community. We make it ourselves. It continues because we continue, because we support the idea of steampunk in some, many, most, or all of its expressions. Steampunk as a whole endures because of our interest and our actions. Without us, there would be no steampunk, no community.

If we want our community to not just continue as is, but to grow and thrive, then we need to continue our support in all the ways we can, according to our interest and abilities.

When we ‘like’, comment on and pass along a blog, we support that writer and let them know we want more. When we buy that book, cd or art print, we do the same for authors (and their publishers!), musicians and artists. When we buy anything, we support a vendor and their livelihood, and in so doing, make it possible for them to do more for us, too.

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When we attend conventions and events, there we really shine in our support, especially for and to each other. People outside the community see that, too, and for some, it will draw them in to join us.

Our community is made better and stronger by each other, and for each other.

With each action, we support each other, we support the community, and we support the idea of steampunk, and even what it means to be a steampunk.

Eric encouraged and challenged us to bring two people, just two, to any steampunk event anywhere in the whole world in February and June. It’s a show of support, and quite a bit of enthusiastic sharing, for something we already enjoy so much.

I encourage you to support steampunk – the people, the community, and the idea – all year long. Make some noise, build some buzz! Try to do something each day; it doesn’t have to be big and extravagant, just something to show your interest and support. Let people know that you appreciate what they do, and also share what you are interested in. One small action each day by each of us will create a huge positive impact to our community and beyond.

Repeating myself, please continue to be the great and wonderful steampunk that you are. Your actions and support have an impact on someone else every day.

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Published in: on December 18, 2013 at 9:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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