This week’s Creative Spotlight is an artist unlike the creator of tattoos featured in volume one, or the denim designer featured in volume two. He does not specialize in fancy footwork like the performer interviewed in volume three. What this artist does is reimagine childhood for us, 90s babies. Marco Bernard or @mastermindsconnect on Instagram grew up in Spring Valley, New York. As a child, he was restricted from television but he was allowed to watch movies on occasion. That is when he fell in love with The Lion King (Allers, Minkoff, 1994). Marco the Artist graduated from Florida Southern College with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. From there, he bounced around Florida trying to find his place. Ultimately deciding, he didn’t want to spend his days working as a face painter at Disney World. A few years ago, he decided to start fresh in Los Angeles and that is where he currently creates.
In a previous interview, Marco discussed the life of an artist in his field. “Nothing worth having is easy to come by. As a freelancer, you have to start off running every part of your business by yourself. You learn how to deal with all types of people: rich, poor, positive, negative, picky, relaxed. The biggest struggle is having to explain the value of what you do; in my case, art. Many people don’t directly see the value of art. They just think it’s nice to look at. They don’t realize that art influences every part of everyone’s life whether it be a business logo or a t-shirt design. The education process is a tough job, but it’s one that I am willing to take.” (VoyageLA)
Many artists, myself included, have to deal with the predicament of entering the conventional workforce and earn a stable living or take the risk and develop a passion into a paycheck. “I considered being an architect in my early years, but I quickly realized I’m not a huge fan of math. Moving to LA has put me in touch with people who have the same mindset as me. It also made the idea of “Hollywood” more tangible, because I can see the sign if I drive five minutes down the street. It brings my dreams down to earth.” If not for an undying love for the original version of The Lion King, Mindless Peace might not have discovered the recent work of Masterminds Connect.
When this series hit the internet, it was a rendition of the renowned anthropomorphic animals that we didn’t know we needed. Scar was the first to hit Instagram on March 20th, 2020. Dressed in black from mane to loafers, a gold crown embroidered on each shoe, complimenting his gold chain and tie towards the bottom of his mane, resembling the look of an ascot.
Then, Marco Bernard’s version of the King dropped and it was as if a young Marlon Brando had morphed with a manlike Mufasa. A distinguished gray stripe at the front of his mane, his tight, white t-shirt tucked into his pants, showing off his muscles and personalized belt buckle. The bicep tattoo is a nice touch, as are the glasses.
These reimagined childhood characters are a result of the lions we know and love as well as inspiration from the Netflix show Beastars. An animated series that Bernard was watching during the strange time of isolation in the nation. As to why these animals of Africa, now walking upright, were almost instantly featured on Buzzfeed and Popsugar after blowing up Twitter (@marcobernardart) Bernard said; “I give credit to everyone being glued to their phones, but I also give credit to the ability for people to share easily due to app updates. Another thing that helped is that I’m not a one-hit-wonder, so when people visit my profile they can find themselves scrolling all the way to the beginning of my page.”
On the topic of inspiration versus perspiration, I asked Marco, “which of these motivates you more?”
“It is a healthy mixture of both,” he said. “An idea is just an idea until the work (perspiration) has been done.” He added, “as superficial as it may sound, positive feedback drives me a lot. Knowing that people look forward to what I put out is the reason I am able to keep going.” As for momentum, he insisted that goal-setting is crucial. “I told myself I was going to complete twenty-nine days of my Black Masterminds Project and I didn’t want to let myself down in that aspect.” Promises he admits, are difficult to keep in the areas of life that don’t involve art but he says he is “working on it.” This particular goal, however, was reached and the Internet now has the privilege of enjoying twenty-nine illustrations of personal role models and inspirations as of February 2019. What he found most intriguing about the notable figures drawn for Black Masterminds was in his words, “the amount of multi-hyphenate icons (people who excel in more than one area).” He said, “it really showed me how versatile black people are despite our circumstances. I wanted to highlight that in my artwork and if not, then in my accompanying captions.”
Another important element of the Black Masterminds Project was shining a light on those who have been involved in more than one Iconic role. James Earl Jones, for example, the voice of Mufasa in both the 1994 version of The Lion King as well as the 2019 remake. Jones also provided the raspy baritone of Star Wars character, Darth Vader.
I’m not a one-hit-wonder, so when people visit my profile they can find themselves scrolling all the way to the beginning of my page.Marco Bernard
The majority of the United States is currently under quarantine or shelter-in-place orders issued by their governors because of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. The isolation has wreaked havoc on our previously robust economy. Leaving many unable to work and over twenty-million Americans on unemployment. One of the few upsides during this bleak beginning of 2020 is the same thing that always improves the quality of life, whether we are healthy or not and that is art. The present might just be the perfect time to be an artist. “People had nothing to do except consume content, art, movies, music, television, read books, etc. There were individuals sending me personal messages thanking me for my artwork because it helped them have something to look forward to when there’s nothing but disheartening news on television.” For artists like Marco and myself, that’s the ultimate goal, to make people feel something. To improve the lives of others through expression, nostalgia, and wonderment and ”reimagining the characters of your childhood” certainly does that.
Making a profit out of doing what you love is not always easy. Then again, if it were would it be worth it? I asked Marco when exactly he was able to make a living off of what gives him life. This was his response; “it wasn’t possible until I had no other choice. There were times where I had no clue how the rent was going to be paid, but in the last second God would throw me a commission request.” Those who are familiar with the way God works know that when He shows up He is never late nor early but right on time, every time, without fail.
Art Experiences are hosted by Masterminds Connect at Coffee Del Mundo in South LA. There is drawing, giveaways, dancing, and music provided by DJ Purple Lettuce. The first art experience was called Drake and Draw and another, Nick @ Nite. They allow people to “let their guard down and enjoy themselves.” Below are seven tips to fellow creatives looking to make a business out of what they create.
In the future, he plans to expand his Youtube channel with tutorials and timelapse drawings. There is also the possibility of branching out into television with an animated show. At the moment though, he says, “I’m excited for quarantine to be over, so I can go back to hosting Art Experiences and connecting with people in person.”
Where to find him: