Mark Paul Deren has an imagination bigger than the large scale paintings he creates. That's why the California-based artist who's known to the world as MADSTEEZ has been captivating the art world as well as brands like NIKE, STUSSY, Boost Mobile, and more. Mark's eclectic personality breaths through each colorful piece he masters. From Dennis Hopper to Carlton Banks, MADSTEEZ's inspiration ranges from personal heros to pop-culture legends. We recently spoke with Mark to hear about his process and discuss his favorite works. Continue reading to hear from MADSTEEZ in his own words.
As told to Justin Korkidis (@Say_WordYo)
The Many Faces Of Dennis Hopperween
"My piece of Dennis Hopper means more to me than other art piece I've created. He was a huge inspiration to me and to be able to include him in the process was absolutely incredible. I wanted to do a portrait of him the same way he did portraits of his friends and people he was inspired by like Warhol and Lichtenstein."
"When I was photographing (Dennis) for the piece, he was so interested in who I was and what I had to say. When I unveiled it to him he has the biggest smile on his face that I can still feel to this day."
"He said the only other pieces he'd know done of him were by Warhol and Schnabel and mine was his favorite. Pretty fuckn' cool, I must say. I will forever be inspired by him. Dennis Hopper, Rest In Power."
Make The Difference
"It's hard to believe that it took 6-months in politics and approvals to prepare for the Make The Difference mural. When I finally got the green light, I had only a six day window to complete! I honestly didn't think it was humanly possible. Since it was on the rooftop, a scissor lift was not an option. I was stuck using this ghetto-rigged pulley system where I had to paint in sections and wasn't able to easily get down to even get a perspective on what I was even doing. To make things even harder, the 8" wide platform I was standing on was tilted at a 25 degree angle with my toes pointing towards the ground. I could hardly move my body after the second day but somewhere along the line I said fukit.com and pushed through sun up to sun down. On the 6th night, I was able to pour some High Life out a brown bag on the court and celebrate!
"The best part about this piece is that it was the backdrop during a FOX morning news show! Rumor has it, Bill has a secret hotline number and it's the only way ANYONE can contact him. You could be Jay Leno or Sofia Coppola, you gotta call the number and leave a message and hope he calls you back. 'Hey Bill, this is MADSTEEZ, I just did a 10 foot nude of you. Get at me!' "
One Eyed Ween Minus One Eye
"I've actually never shown this piece before. I took me over a year and a half to complete start to finish. I've moved it to two separate WEENfaktory's. Before the first move, I double sticky taped it to the wall and really didn't think that over a year of sticking to the wall that it wasn't gonna come off. That bitch literally ripped the entire dry wall off the wall framing. It's probably equally as stuck to the wall now and I've been scared to move it, hence the reason why I've never shown it."
Count Sw!ftula @ Weens!lvan!a
"This was another never-ending piece that took me 622 days. I started right before my son was born and just couldn't finish it. Lots of people think it's of Tom Petty or Nick Cave, but it's of my good friend Swifty. I actually dreamt this scenario of him and had to paint it. I've had half a dozen other dreams I'd like to paint of him and make a series out of. A cool thing about this piece is that the background consists of wall paper from the Russian empire during World War 1. I go through these eBay fetishes like buying PEE WEE Herman merchandise, crotchet blankets, fighter pilot helmets, ect. At that time in my life I spent a year buying wall paper. I have an entire case filled with the sickest wallpaper."
"I just finished this piece last week. The week prior I had a recording session with Jaleel White (Urkel), and Kid n' Play for a Nickelodeon animation that me and my buddy Andrew Schwartz created. I was so inspired by those guys that I had to bring it back to the '90s. I really wanted to do a painting of one of those guys but figured they'd think I was a bit of a stalker, so I went the safe route with Carlton. If someone had told me 20 years ago that I'd be working with Urkel and the guys from House Party doin the pajama jammy-jam, I'd have told them to jump back in their DeLorean and get me a Hover board!"
One Eyed Ween
"I remember this was my first time I had gone out and bought a piece of wood to paint on. Normally I'd just go to construction sites and poach wood. It was also the first big piece I had painted. It was so big that I had to paint it in the family room and my roommate would get so pissed because I would have to block the TV to paint. I'd come home and he'd have thrown the painting in the back yard which was literally the beach. I'd have to brush the sand off every time I wanted to paint again. I think 'roids may have been an issue because one time I came home and my prized '86 turquoise blue GT Performer was hanging 30 feet in a tree. I never was able to get it down."
Mark The Cobra Weensnake
"I had a lot of fun doing this piece of Mark "Cobrasnake" Hunter. I actually got in a car wreck half a block from his house on the way to shoot him for this piece. He luckily had a crowbar that I used to rip the front end of my car off from my tire so I could drive home. I was originally going to put his Gramps on the painting 'cuz he's 'G, but decided with Blawk He-Man instead."
B!ll The Butcher Ween
"I got to design a pop-up store next to Reed Space in the Lower East Side for some products I had come out with for Boost Mobile a few years back. I had a spot for three large paintings and I wanted to do somthing site specific. I just had to do the 5 points and Bill The Butcher from Gangs of New York. I did this piece in four hours and afterwards I was emotionally exhausted. I was going through some dark shit mentally and it felt good to get evil."
"I'm a huge Seinfeld fan and there was no way I could top the painting that had already been done of Kramer. George was just as deserving so I fired him up. I don't know why I didn't think of it before but I sent it to him via Twitter and check his response. P.S., I also have a really good Larry David story where I had a meeting with him about a project and I literally slept face down, out cold, laying in a puddle of my own drool during the entire meeting."