Artist Profile Part 2 – Mark Doox
How has your artistic style changed from when you graduated from your art school to the present day? Were you always interested in iconography? What do you think sparked that interest?
I first became interested in iconography in my late twenties. I visited a Russian Orthodox monastery of American converts to investigate a calling to monkhood. I did not graduate from art school, but I left after a few years because I became more interested in spirituality. I decided I wanted to make sense of this aspect of human existence, and being relatively young, I thought I could find some truth to live by that would give my life meaning. Eventually, I learned about a monastery of converts to Eastern Orthodoxy in Texas. After contacting them, I decided that I would visit them to see if I had a calling to be a monk. I visited them and started a novitiate there, but I realized that traditional monasticism wasn’t my cup of tea after nearly a year. However, while I was there, I was introduced to icons. I did my first icons at this monastery.
I became fascinated by them and felt that they spoke to me spiritually like no other art. I came to understand over the years that this sacred art genre of early Christian art was an artistic calling, and I wanted to express myself through it creatively. And I started on a journey to develop that expression. I am still on a journey based on the realization that I am a contemporary black artist with a particular cultural history that I find myself in. I felt I needed to respond to my reality and examine that reality in the context of my artistic passions that included icons. And I set out to do just that, which has led me to combine with my Byzantine, Early-Italo, and Renaissance influences modern and post-modern approaches and understanding. I am interested in making connections and doing what makes sense to me and appears to work. However, the byzantine genre is there in all my work. I do icons. And I still consider myself an iconographer.
What advice would you give to artists who aspire to make their art their career? Is there anything you know now that would have been helpful to have known earlier in your artistic journey?
If you want an excellent chance to make a career in art- it boils down to education and being smart about it. (This is the advice I would have given my twenty-something self.) First, you need to figure out which ‘art world’ you want to participate in. There are many art worlds like commercial advertising and illustration, animation, arts and crafts, fine art/ museum, and gallery class artwork, to name a few. Follow your passion. Understand your art world and what is necessary to succeed in it. Every art world functions differently. And go for it. There is information out there to help you. Learn from those that model the success you are attracted to. Education can be formal and informal. Do not neglect either. Get a degree but don’t think the degree will grant you a career. It helps. In the fine art/ museum and gallery graduate degrees open doors and you can always fall back on teaching. Also, don’t get married (have children) until you are financially stable in your career. The obligations of a family can derail an art career at the wrong time.
-Your Friends at Undoing Racism