Interview with Artist Mark Pacich

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By: Desmond Dyles

Mark Pacich is a Florida-based artist that appeared at Megacon in Orlando over Memorial Day weekend. He’ll also be appearing at Tampa Comic Con in July. You can find him on Facebook where you can check out more of his art. His subjects run the nerdy gamut from Daryl Dixon and Daredevil to Tyrion Lannister and Oswald Cobblepot. I had a chance to interview this talented artist at Megacon where he discussed his biggest achievement, who he looks up to, what he hopes to accomplish, what advice he’d give aspiring artists, and more.



Desmond for Nerd HQ (NHQ): Good morning, Mark.

Mark Pacich (MP): Morning.

NHQ: So we’re here at Megacon. How many cons have you done?

MP: This is my second time doing MegaCon, but I’ve done the Tampa Bay Comic Con for four years now, and will be doing a fifth this coming July. I’ve also done some smaller shows or one-day shows at hotels and stuff like comic book store openings. As far as the big conventions, this is going on my fifth year.

NHQ: What’s been your best and worst experience at these cons?

MP: The best experience is just having the people appreciate the artwork and make the comments respecting the time and appreciating the time I put into it, giving me good feedback. Of course, every time you sell a piece of artwork and someone appreciates it, you know, that feels good. When I do paintings and artwork of some of the famous people that are at the conventions, to hear their feedback and their appreciation that you spent a month and a half doing a painting of them, that makes you feel good. The worst experiences…I’d say it was the one time I’ve had something stolen. That was at a smaller, one-day show.

NHQ: Oh wow!

MP: You know, you hope that doesn’t happen but I think the overall atmosphere is that people respect you and you know they’re not out looking to get a free ride or anything. But it happens, I’m sure, and I’m not the only one it happens to. Overall, experiences really don’t center around, or the bad experiences don’t center around, the actual convention happening, it’s more or less the behind the scenes. Like when you’re trying to load out and you want to get out of there and you want to get home to your family and that takes four or five hours to do.

NHQ: Right, right.

MP: Those are the bad experiences, but as far as the active show hours, there really haven’t been any except when I had one of my prints stolen.



NHQ: So, what has been your greatest artistic success?

MP: You may find this kind of funny, but it has nothing to do with a MegaCon or a comic convention or anything like that. It goes all the way back to 1987, when I just moved here [to Florida] from Pittsburgh and knew nothing about Florida, knew nothing about Tampa where we moved to, and I entered an art contest, “Celebrating a Hundred Years of Tampa.”

NHQ: Okay.

MP: You were supposed to use things that were relative to Tampa in this artwork. I didn’t know anything about Tampa – no historic landmarks, nothing to do with the city, nothing. But I entered the contest and put the scenery of the University of Tampa, with the minarets in the background, and I won the contest!

NHQ: Wow!

MP: And the artwork was put on a billboard in the city of Tampa.

NHQ: Wow! That’s amazing!

MP: Yeah, it was right by the interstate. So, not knowing anything about Tampa, with just the artwork, it was good enough and it won the contest. It was 1987 and I was 15 or 16 years old and I got my artwork put on a billboard. So, that’s been my greatest artistic success.

NHQ: That’s pretty cool. What’s the most challenging part about your artwork?

MP: Since I concentrate on portraiture and doing likenesses and portraits of people, I guess it’s trying to achieve that likeness. It’s awesome when someone comes up and says, “Wow! That looks just like me!” One of the hardest things when you do portraiture is that not everyone’s uniform. You know you want to make the eyes the same size, and the ears the same level, and the teeth the whitest, but not everyone is like that. That’s not reality.

NHQ: Gotcha.

MP: I have to paint what I see, not what I think I see. That’s what I try and teach other people when they do portraiture. Sometimes a person’s eyes are lopsided. Sometimes one ear is higher on the head than other; sometimes they have teeth missing. Sometimes their hair isn’t where it should be and that’s just the reality. I don’t try to dramatize it and make everything even. I think doing that is the hardest part to achieve the realistic, ideology of someone’s portrait.

NHQ: Do you have any mentors or idols here at the MegaCon this year?

MP: My art mentors or idols, most of them aren’t living. I would say, historically, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci…those types of artists. As far as more current artists, Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta. Frank Frazetta has passed, but he is one of the premier fantasy, science-fiction artists. To me, he’s one of the most classical artist of all time, even though he doesn’t go back to the Renaissance or anything like that. There are also artists here that I see that are mentors, even though they’re my contemporaries and they’re pretty much the same age as me. I’ve followed them on the convention circuits and the things they’ve done, they also do portraiture or science-fiction fantasy work. Scott Spillman is one of them; he concentrates mostly on The Walking Dead series artwork. Nathan Szerdy is another one. He’s an Orlando artist who does comic book art and stuff like that. Yeah, those are pretty much the people that I follow, but I appreciate everybody and the different styles that they do and you always meet someone or experience someone new like every time.

NHQ: What inspired you to become an artist?

MP: The earliest I remember drawing is when I was five years old. You know, copying other people’s artwork and developing a simple style of my own. My parents definitely supported me, pushed me. I don’t think it was overbearing to where they were saying, “You’re going to do this, whether you like it or not.” They supported me if I needed supplies when I was younger. Anytime there were extra art classes outside of school, they would sign me up for it, because they saw I liked doing it and that I was good at it and I was developing at it. My mom would even take classes with me – figure drawing and still-life classes. Also, if there were contests, they always supported me to enter them.

NHQ: Right.

MP: I’ve been drawing my whole life; I actually went to school for art. I went to the University of Florida, graduated with a Fine Arts degree. My first job after college was with an advertising company. It wasn’t so much the art that I do now, it was more digital art with proprietary software. I really didn’t like it, but it was a job. Then, after I graduated up until about five or six years ago, I didn’t paint, I didn’t draw, I didn’t do anything.

NHQ: Oh wow!

MP: I regret it. I can’t even give you a reason why I didn’t do it, I just didn’t just do it. Maybe it was life happening. I got married and had kids, but then I went to my first convention as a guest, you know? I was just walking around and I saw people selling their art and I was like, “Wow, I can do this.” After that, I just went 100 percent into it and the rest is history.

NHQ: Have you ever dressed up at a MegaCon?

MP: No, I never have cosplayed or dressed up at a MegaCon, but I really appreciate the cosplayers. The time, effort, money, dedication, and love they put into it – because it’s a form of art itself. I mean, it’s amazing when you see someone that spends a year doing a costume, especially the ones that are handmade. Anyone can go out and buy a costume, but to put the love and dedication into your own, it’s amazing. And I’m not saying I wouldn’t dress up, but I’m so busy behind my booth selling my artwork and promoting myself, but there’s going to come a time when my kids will dress up and I’ll dress up with them and really I have no problem doing it.

NHQ: If you did dress up, who would dress up as?

MP: Probably Fire Marshall Bill from In Living Color, but you know, as long there’s a costume that has a mask or something like that I can do anybody. I would have no problem doing it.



NHQ: What legacy would you like to leave for your artistic work that would be unique in style?

MP: (Long pause) I don’t know if I want to go down as the greatest portrait artist of all time because I think there many people better than me, but since I do portraiture and specialize in that. I mean I can do landscape; I can do still life; I can do anything, but with the portraiture, I guess the one thing I want, that I would love to leave behind is people to say, “You know, he put time into this and he would spend months doing one thing. He didn’t microwave it. He didn’t try to put out as much product as fast as he could. And he put you know the dedication into it, and analysis and the research and just to know that in some sense since I want a realistic style.” I want people to say that I captured, not just looking like the person, but captured the essence of that person.

NHQ: So what will be your pinnacle in this industry?

MP: I would love to be the go-to guy for the famous people. The actors, the actress to say, “I want a Mark Pacich commission painting. I want Mark Pacich to paint my children or to paint my dog or my grandmother or even paint me for my house.” That would be the best to have. To be that pipeline, the go-to guy for the famous people. I’ve always said it would be a pinnacle for me to have Marvel comics, DC comics commission me to do a cover for one of their titles. I would like them to ask me to do a painting for issue number one, like Superman 2020. To be able to go into a comic shop or take my kids into a comic shop and my family members to see my art work in a comic book.

NHQ: That would be great.

MP: That would be a pinnacle.

NHQ: Do you have any recommendations for any classes that you would take for becoming an artist or any advice you can give?

MP: I gave this suggestion this week to somebody when they asked me pretty much this same question. You can never go wrong taking a figure drawing class, where you actually draw a live model and spend 30 seconds trying to capture that model or you spend three hours trying to capture that model. That’s the best thing I ever did because the human body encompasses everything that you’re going to experience in life. You can go out and paint nature or draw landscapes and you’ll experience the light, the shadows, the lines, the depth, the three-dimensional space but the human body, everyone’s different. Just like every tree is different.

NHQ: Right.

MP: But the human body to me has everything: the structure underneath, the skeletal system, the musculature, and the outer appearance. Even if you draw still objects like vases and apples, and oranges, and plants…take a figure drawing class. That to me is the best thing you can do.

NHQ: Any recommendation on any books out there that an up-and-coming artist can read or topics they should study?

MP: There are a lot of books if you go to art stores, books on topics like how to draw three-dimensional shapes, how to achieve shading and lighting, how to draw people, how to draw faces, you know? There’s so much. But you have to start simple because if you think about it, everything, in my opinion, is just a shape and a color. That’s all it is. The human face is nothing but shapes and colors. You have to be able to see them. You know you have to be able to see the greens and blues in people faces. You know, there’s no flesh color like crayons have, but there are simple shapes like circles, lines, and triangles and spheres, pyramids, and cones. Those are the type things you have to start with, but also understanding the color spectrum. You know the colors in life, the colors in light…you have to start simple and work your way up. But yeah, you can’t go wrong learning things like that. Learn how to draw three-dimensional shapes, because when you think about it, pretty much everything is line dimensions, light, very simple concepts.

NHQ: Well, I appreciate your time Mark. I hope you enjoy the rest of MegaCon.

MP: Awesome, man. Thanks!


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