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.