“When I went on my own, I gave myself two goals: I want to do work that I like and I’m proud of, and I want to earn the respect of my peers. I have control over the first and not the second, but I think I got ’em.”
His art has graced the cover of The New Yorker 60 times (!), and now award-winning artist/illustrator Mark Ulriksen joins The Virtual Memories Show! We talk about how he got his start in illustration at 37 (and compare mid-life crises) and how his previous career as an art director affected him, explore his upbringing and how it taught him to read (and render) body language, get into his paintings of dogs and why he likes painting them more than people, and issue our judgement on Barry Bonds’ MLB Hall of Fame chances. We also get into the ice-cream machine that changed his life, the good aspects of being typecast, the pros and cons of not going to art school, how he developed his “gracefully awkward” style, his love of sports (and the new gallery show of his sports-related work!), his artistic epiphany inspired by The Third Man (our mutual just-about-favorite movie), the graphic memoir he wants to make, why he loves drawing on an iPad, and how he’s managed to work around his idiopathic obliterative perifoveal retinal vasculopathy (it’s a bad eye disease). Give it a listen! And go check out Mark’s gallery show, and buy Mark’s great book, Dogs Rule Nonchalantly!
“I learned composition from graphic design. I’m always confident I can rearrange a rectangle in a way that’s interesting.”
“I look at some of my earlier stuff and think, why did anyone hire me?”
About our Guest
Mark Ulriksen is a San Francisco-based artist and illustrator whose instantly recognizable portraits and whimsical take on life have led to projects for a variety of major clients. After initially working for 13 years as a graphic designer and magazine art director Mark went through a relatively early mid-life crisis and gave up a world of monthly deadlines for a world of weekly ones, pursuing a new career as a freelance illustrator and artist. His editorial illustration work began in the mid-nineties, and since then his paintings have appeared in many of America’s leading magazines and newspapers. Ulriksen is best known for his work for The New Yorker, where he has been a regular contributor since 1993, with 60 magazine covers to his credit.
Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Mark’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mr. Ulriksen (and Ivy) by me. It’s on my instagram.