Hot off the blocks from his latest shows in Melbourne and Sydney, we managed to sneak a few words with the legendary Mark Bodé. Check it.
So, first off, something that’s been bugging me, how do you pronounce your surname?
Its pronounced BOE DEE, my father put the long E sign over the E but it became Bode in print, so many people pronounce it wrong because of that…
Obviously your father is a big influence on your work, what was it like growing up with all that creativity around you?
I was always around great artists as a child but they never seemed as cool as my dad! But I learned early by being exposed to their works.
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Do you find it easy painting, because of your background, or do you feel you’re living in Vaughn’s shadow a little?
I’m very efficient when I work, I work very fast, with little or no mistakes. But it’s never easy, it takes time to be confident. A mural like the Jeff Jones tribute I did with James O’Barr only took 6 hours, but it took 40 years of experience to do it that quick. So it’s easy now, but it’s never that easy without years under your belt. I have never felt like I was in a shadow of my father, if I’m in a shadow, Vaughn lives in mine as well, as we have our own creative strengths and I do so many other forms of art my father never dreamt of. He was so imaginative at creating worlds and characters that I never need to do exactly what he did, as I have a wealth of material to play with, so never felt the drive to create in that way as he did.
Where do you get inspiration for your characters from?
Real life in most cases, when I want to create a character I’ll base it on someone I know, or some aspect of someone I’ve known, especially the weirdo friends! Haha! Sometimes I’ll draw a Bode Broad and I’ll see a friend in the face, it just happens that I’m inspired by people I hang out with or live with, like my wife Molly comes out in a lot of my drawings.
You tattoo as well as paint and draw, do you find it easy to transpose your work onto skin?
Tattooing is a very difficult medium to master and be consistant at, I have a lot of respect for master tattooers, as they can mimic any style and do it on a rubber wall that moves and complains! Doing a ‘Dore’ or an ‘Escher’ is doable, but on skin its extra hard and I’ve been able to excel in that artform, because I have my respect for the people who do it 24/7. Im sure if i did it all the time I would move to yet another level of ability, but I only tattoo 2 days a week as I’m so busy with other aspects of my work.
Why do you think your work is so popular?
The Bode lines are very bold and graphic, so many of the earliest graffiti writers copied the characters onto trains and walls in NYC and has now spread over the entire world. Also the characters have a real street thing going on, like life and death and sex are woven into the makings of these characters and their tragic little lives, people relate to that and their own lives . Many women will come up to me and say that they are Bode Broads or their boyfriends will say my girl is a Bode Broad. People relate themselves to Cheech and the Lizards and the Broads, just real shit, Ya know?!
You’ve signed with Universal Pictures for Cobalt 60 to be made into a film, can you tell us any more about that?
Zack Snyder has had Cobalt 60 in development for about 4 years now Universal had the option for 3 years and has passed on extending it, so most likely it may end up with Warner Brothers as Zack’s movies are mostly WB at this point. There are other plans for Cobalt that are in the works too, but its too early to talk about that.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
It would have to be Cobalt 60, as I’ve taken that from a rather obscure and short story of my fathers and made it into a viable and very strong property. I’m very proud of my spray-can abilities as of late as I got real good at it painting in San Francisco all the time. It seems like the road is still weaving, I may take yet another turn and get into producing animation or something, I can’t see where my road leads but it will be an interesting journey, I’m sure!
Is your latest series of shows a push to get more international recognition, or are you just trying to make an effort to see some more of your fans in different countries?
I have to keep people talking about the work, otherwise the money dries up. The internet, like facebook and online presence is a must, when I receive fan mail from certain places, I realize there is love for the work there and work towards tapping that market and reaching people who love the Bode work. Im very good with people, I never just sign a book or a toy, or whatever, I’ll always do a drawing of some kind for them and spend that extra energy to show I return the love an respect. I just went to Australia and it was off the hook! [Editor’s note, true life fact, for real] I did two shows, one in Melbourne at the House of Bricks Gallery and one in Sydney at China Heights Gallery and they were packed, we sold pretty much all of the art that was displayed!
What’s next for you and how do you stay creative and productive as an artist?
I get spurts of creativity, where I’ll do a huge amount of work in a short time, then I can hit dry spells where I’m doing mostly promo stuff. Inspiration comes from different places, sometimes it’s traveling to distant locations and seeing other people’s art that makes me want to get back to work. I feel I’ll end up working on films and animation, that is the final push with our material, it deserves a wider audience and I’m here to make it happen.
Y’all can check more of Mark’s work online here…