Marvin S. Mariano 2013 Calgary Expo Guest

In preparation for the 2013 edition of the Calgary Comic expo, artist Marvin S. Mariano took the time to chat with me about his roots, art and more!CEX_MarvinSMariano_5

1. You began freelancing as an artist in 1997, what sparked your love of art?CEX_MarvinSMariano_4

My Mom has always said that I have been drawing since the age of 3. I had several coloring books that I would use and doodle on. Speaking of sparks, I actually almost burned our house down at one point because I wanted to watch cartoons so bad. Well one morning the TV and other outlets were off and had no power. My parents had just left the house and I remember seeing this fuse box that my Dad would open and magically we would have lights every time. So I went ahead and switched something on and next thing I knew I see smoke and sparks coming out from the wires extending all the way out from our home and almost to the streets. I was in big trouble of course but all I wanted to do was watch the Classic SuperFriends cartoons and Shogun Warriors. Seeing ‘Battle Star Galactica’ for the first time made me draw space ships all over our home walls. I still remember in Grade 1 when my teacher made us go outside the school yard and look at clouds. We went back in and had to draw what we saw on the blackboard. My classmates had drawn them very simple while mine had a lot more details and rain drops, even though it wasn’t raining that day. It stood out and was a recognizable, tall puffy cloud which I believe I drew a Cumulonimbus. I asked myself why is their drawings so cartoony and not like the ones up on the sky? Well I knew then that I saw things differently and that I am an Artist. One of my Grade 8 teachers asked me to draw portraits of my entire class in the library just weeks before graduation. That was a blast and totally enjoyed it. I received the Arts award but looking back, man I wish I got paid for those drawings!, haha. That same teacher though recommended me to go to ‘Cardinal Carter Academy for The Arts’ high school so that was great. Everything from that point on, I wanted to be the best Artist I can be.

2. For readers not familiar with your art can you share a bit about yourself and your massive artist portfolio?CEX_MarvinSMariano_11

I was born in the Philippines and came to Canada when I was 10. I’m the eldest of six and fluently speak Tagalog and English. I love Nature and use to play with a lot of bugs and collect Spiders. That’s right, as a kid this was my ‘Pokemon’ and Video Games growing up.

Art has always been my thing since I was young. I have many favorite Artists and influences such as Leonardo DaVinci, Salvador Dali, H.R.,Giger, Hajime Soriyama, Masamune Shirow, Frank Frazetta, Robert Bateman, Boris & Julie Bell, Yuuki, Bengus, Moebius, Miyazaki and Kouichi Ohata just mention some of my favorites.

My first ‘professional’ job as an artis I can say was a Web Graphic Designer for a small firm in Toronto. I joined an art studio right after high school and was introduced to a small group of like minded artists, most I’m still great friends with today. At the studio I spent almost everyday drawing and painting. Basically building up my portfolio one piece at a time. Within less than a year, that same group of people I met formed a comic book illustration company. I did many illustrations and background art for comics which really gave me the exposure and learn a lot about the industry. Because I was the ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ and the only one who was proficient enough in digital painting or Photoshop, I handled almost 90% of the coloring duties. So if you ever bought a GI Joe toy that was released between 2000 – 2005, chances are that’s my work on the package art. Working freelance and within 10 years, I had provided my services for companies the likes of Hasbro, Lucasfilms, Mattel, Lego, and DC Comics to name a few. A lot of the projects and work I’ve done are listed and outlined on my LinkedIn profile for those curious and interested.

3. To date, what have been some of your favourite projects?CEX_MarvinSMariano_10

Funny thing you asked because I’m currently working on one 😉 but Shhh!..You’re going to have to wait until this one comes out! Hopefully within a year it’ll be on the toy shelves. My top list would definitely be the Transformers toy designs I’ve done for Hasbro. More specifically the ‘Transformers/Star Wars Crossovers’ brand in which I’ve had a hand in designing several popular characters. Google ‘Yoda Transformer’ and you’ll see that’s one of my toys! I’m always proud and geeked out everytime but many people are surprised that I’m the artist who designed that. I also worked on Barbie products from Mattel that’s still some of my favorites. It was the Teen Generation Girl ‘Tori’, Totally Yo Yo Courtney & Skipper. They were all sold out so I’ve had to buy my copies from Ebay.

4. Can you tell us what TAATS is about? Where did this idea come from?

TAATS is short for ‘Toronto Airbrush Art Tattoo Scene’ which originally was thought up by my cousin who approached me to work with him over the weekends at a Dr. Flea’s Flea Market back in 2004. Just something to do for fun really. The days when I thought that airbrushed fashion trend was back, lol. Well we started with sticker tattoos, then followed by doing custom Airbrush Art on clothing and other materials. After many weekends and years later, the business expanded and we outgrown the place and relocated to another market. I continued on with the Airbrushing side while my cousin opened up and established the first ‘Toronto Tattoo School’ in Canada. I later took his course in February 2011 and went full time into the Tattooing Profession a month later. By that time ‘TAATS’ had changed to ‘Delstar Tattoos’ and ‘Phat Buddha Tattoos & Piercings’ which there are currently four branch locations here in Ontario.

5. If you had to work in a field that was completely uncreative, what would you be doing?

Probably Farming and Gardening, but I think even with that I would end up doing something creative. My family were farmers while growing up back home in the Philippines. I enjoyed it very much and sometimes miss the simple life. We had a rice farm and a variety of animal livestock such as pigs, chickens, goats, ducks and even a Carabao (water buffalo) that tilled the fields.

6. What are you currently working on?CEX_MarvinSMariano_7

Top Secret..well almost. All I can say it’s for Hasbro and Transformers related!!! . Aside from that, I’m designing a tattoo for a client that has a Geisha-Warrior along with the classical Asian Dragons. I love it and can’t wait to show and post it online.

7. What do you enjoy most about attending conventions such as the Calgary Expo?CEX_MarvinSMariano_6

Well this would be my 2nd show this year and I’m looking forward to meeting more people and make new friends here. Although I didn’t get the chance to meet any of the TNG: Star Trek cast last year, I had a great time drawing and sketching for fans at the Expo. It was madness and gotta love the nerdfest.

8. If you were to moonlight as a superhero, who would it be?

Hmm..It would have been Superman at first but that’s hard to pick so I’d say it would have to be an amalgamation of Superheroes though. Like Iron-Man, Thor and The Flash would be an example. I can already visualize it and would look so badass. Kids would buy that toy version right away and The Super Villains would get jealous, lol.

9. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Imagination is the key and one should always stay humble as we always learn something new from everyone. Stay Inspired and hungry for knowledge from other Artists out there as that keeps our creative minds fresh and open for new things. Be original and honest about your work. Value yourself and know you’re worth, so never never do spec work or create anything for free, except for yourself. Trust me, there are real shady people out there and you have to safeguard from those who’ll exploit and not pay you for your Art. Be smart and use plain common sense. Always keep a good record or copy of things, specially emails.CEX_MarvinSMariano_3

Art is a lot fun but it also equals dedication, patience and hard work. Its your passion. Having the talent alone is not enough. Although we naturally like keep to ourselves, surround yourself with positive people and like minded Artists. To be in that environment full of creative energy is an awesome feeling. For me Art is all about the enjoyment and freedom of creating, ever evolving and trying to perfect itself even though it doesn’t need to.CEX_MarvinSMariano_9

Thank you, Marvin!

Be sure to check out his booth at the 2013 edition of the Calgary Expo held in Calgary, Alberta Canada from April 27th – 30th.

About Lisa Lunney

A Canadian gal that firmly believes words can change the world. An avid reader, writer and Autumn/Winter lover. She excels at communications and writes for pleasure and profession.
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