Interview with pop surreal artist Mark Rogers

Mark Rogers is a self-taught artist currently living in Portland, Oregon. His work is set in a fantasy world that is both spooky, yet charming. His oil paintings have the look of fairytale illustration infused with creepy characters, occult references, and heavy metal. Taking inspiration from everyday occurrences and personal experiences, Rogers crafts narratives with imaginary characters to populate his tragic and fantastical paintings.
Hello dear Mark, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?

I have been drawing my whole life, but I never really got serious about art until I was about 27. At that time, I decided that I wanted to become either a tattooer or a graphic designer. I entered a graphic design program in Eugene, Oregon and signed up for a painting as an elective. Two weeks later, I dropped out of school and decided to become an artist. I painted my first painting when I was 30. I am currently 35.  
What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
Fantasy novels, heavy metal, anything paranormal, occult, or spooky are all things that inspire me. I love thrift shopping and period clothing, and I am always on the lookout for cool reference material. Also, I weirdly get obsessed with things. I always have a current obsession, and I am trying really hard to work them into my paintings, for example: I am currently really into camper trailers, tiny houses, and UFO’s. (Actually UFO’s have been a lifetime obsession). I am currently working on a series called “Power From Beyond“, about aliens and one day in the future I plan on doing a series about tiny houses. As far as artists go, I love the Dutch masters, the golden age of illustration, and modern fantasy illustrators. 
How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
Every day I wake up at 12:15pm, and Monday-Friday, I paint from 2:00pm-6:00pm while drinking lots of coffee and listening to audiobooks. I bartend 3 shifts a week, so after my paintings sessions, I either pour drinks, or do something fun like cook a big meal and watch movies with my girlfriend, go see a show, or start up an evening painting session. Sometimes I draw late at night, or maybe I’ll hang with friends. The most important thing for me is having a consistent painting schedule where I am putting in at least 20 hours a week in front of the easel. I’ll usually squeeze in all the “art business“ part of being an artist before or after my painting sessions. 
What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
I’m self-taught. I took one drawing class at a community college that was amazing, and two weeks of a painting class, which was terrible. I learned by reading books, reading blogs by other artists, seeing paintings in person, and just putting in the time. I’m still learning!! I can’t really say what works for other people, only what I have experienced.   
What fascinates you the most about surrealism, contemporary art? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
I suppose I’m a surrealist painter. Imaginative realism is also a term I identify with. My style is somewhere between medieval, realistic, and folk art.  I totally love the painters from the Northern Renaissance like Bosch, Bruegel, Durer, and Jan Van Eyck. This style of painting really resonates with me. I love paintings that create an entire miniature world within the picture plane, and it is always something I am striving to achieve. I also want my paintings to feel “out of time” with no obvious contemporary elements, such as current fashion, buildings, cars, cell phones, or anything like that. Most of my characters wear vintage clothing or costumes. I do this because love the idea of creating a miniature fantasy land with paint. 
What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
I love the process in making paintings. I have a lot of little steps and I love each and every one of them. I get excited about finishing up projects, and even more excited about starting new ones. “Being creative” means looking inside of myself, imagining possibilities, visualizing new combinations, and generally playing around in my head. 
Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
My workflow goes as follows: Conceptualizing and thumbnails in my sketchbook, acquiring reference materials, completing a drawing on paper, transferring the drawing to a wood panel, priming the panel, an underpainting, followed by several color layers and a final layer of varnish. Usually I have a few different projects going on at the same time.
As far as tools of the trade, I use the oil paints: titanium white, lamp black, raw umber, yellow ochre, Indian red, and on occasion, phthalo blue. I have a quiver of eight paintbrushes, and my painting medium is Liquin fine detail. I draw with H2, HB, and 2B pencils as wells as white charcoal pencils and various erasers. 
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet? 
I bought some gouache the other day for use in my sketch book, but I haven’t had the time yet to work on that. I also love sculpture, and mask making.
Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
I work in a spare bedroom in the apartment that my girlfriend and I share. It’s really cozy. I have a 20lb cat and he is the strangest thing hiding in my studio.
What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
Having the time to create art might be the toughest challenge. Making sure you have a contract would be my biggest lesson.
What’s the best advice you ever received in your art career?
Keeping a consistent schedule might be the best advice I have ever received.
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I love being an artist, and I love making art. I don’t really have any choice in the matter. The compulsion to paint paintings is akin to a mental illness. I suppose that hardest thing about being an artist is just accepting my station in life and accepting that I lead a pretty alternative lifestyle by societies’ standards and being proud of that fact rather than longing for traditional values and measures of success.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?
In the future, I see myself on board of an alien spacecraft, hopefully taken voluntarily. Professionally I am going to just stick to my schedule, and keep cranking out paintings. I would really also like to be represented by a dedicated gallery.  
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
Never stop learning. Paint hard.
Your favorite art or life quote is ...
"No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist". - Oscar Wilde
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
I play guitar, write songs, and write stories.
Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?
Thank you dear Mark, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new visions and works :)
By contributor Linda. September 2014. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS.