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Marq Spusta is a concert gig poster artist based in Pacifica, CA.
Spusta is involved in a variety of projects, from designing concert posters to exhibiting intricate paintings. His artwork and characters can be found on everything from children’s books to doom metal records to beer packaging. He currently lives and works in Pacifica, CA. Spusta has created concert art for musical artists such as Eddie Vedder, The Decemberists, Widespread Panic, Band of Horses, The Black Keys, Phish, Dinosaur Jr., Faith No More, Tom Petty, Dave Matthews Band, The Black Crowes and The Roots. After making his name with established acts, Spusta is now doing work for newer bands such as Sleepy Sun and St. Vincent. Spusta graduated from Northwest Wisconsin University’s design-arts program. Then about nine years ago, California called. He answered, moving from Madison, Wisconsin to San Francisco, California and then, eventually, Three Rivers, a small town on the western edge of Sequoia National Park. “I bounced all over the West Coast,” he says, “but I feel like a really became a poster artist in Three Rivers. I lived on five acres and didn’t know too many people up that way. Being in the natural world was so much more inspiring to me than being in the city.” Now that Marq lives back in the Bay Area, he’s able to enjoy the live music scene that his posters help promote.
How did you get your start as an artist?
It’s been a passion of mine since I was 2.
How and when did you begin as a professional artist?
I’ve been making and selling artwork probably from high school onward. Coming out of college I wasn’t a full-time artist like I am now, but it was always my desire to be a professional artist.
Did you always know you wanted to work with musicians? How did you begin creating concert posters?
I’ve always been a big fan of album art, posters and music related artwork. It’s not necessarily something I always thought I could successfully get into for a career, but now that I am it feels like a perfect fit. I had originally been doing a mix of graphic design, illustration, painting and printmaking without a specific direction. One of my first big breaks was doing art for The Black Crowes, which have always been one of my favorite bands, so I felt very blessed and excited. The Black Crowes family has always treated me very well, and made my dream-come-true gig turn into a tangible reality. I also did a lot of posters for The Fillmore in San Francisco for bands like The Black Keys, Tom Petty’s Mudcrutch, Medeski Martin & Wood and The Roots. After that, the bands asked me to do more artwork for tour merchandise and posters.
Who is one of your favorite artists / bands to create art for?
Lately it’s been Dinosaur Jr. and J Mascis. I’ve created album covers, tour posters, 7” singles, stage backdrops, skateboards and shirts for them. It’s all come together very naturally. The stuff I create for them feels like the stuff I’d create for myself.
What is your artistic process when given a project?
If it is a new band I’m working with, I usually start by asking them if they had anything in mind or any art direction. They often leave it very open and I just start from scratch. I also always ask to send me their albums if I don’t have them already. It’s important to me that I digest a band’s visual identity along with the music to prepare for a project. I usually have a vague idea of what to sketch before I start, and then come up with a second idea while working on the first. Once a sketch is approved by the band, I redraw the image in a larger size in pencil, and then use ink and a brush to create a black line image or a color image depending on the project.
What inspires your art in general?
Pretty much everything… nature, music, relationships, connections, evolution, time, Cosmos, micro, macro, starfish and Charles Mingus. Was being an artist your dream? Were you artistic as a child? Yes and yes. I’ve always been an artist, so it never seemed like a dream I was shooting for, but rather what I was already doing. The high school version of me, the younger me, would be delighted and excited with the type of projects I get to work on now.
If you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing for a living?
Maybe a biologist or wildlife photographer. Or I would be in a rock band, but then I’d have to learn how to play an instrument.
What would we find you doing when you aren’t creating art?
You would find me with my dogs at the beach. I also go to a lot of shows around the Bay Area. We have so many quality venues to see music, and an endless stream of great bands that play here.
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