Mark grew up imersed in music and art, and I think his work now shows it. To me, it feels like it has a soulful heart, mixed with a splash of surreal imagination. Meet Mark of HumanTreeRobot.
please introduce yourself.
My name is Mark Brunner, although I’m sometimes known as M650, The Robot Guy, The Tree Guy, and occasionally just HumanTreeRobot. I reside in Los Angeles, I grew up in Boulder, CO and Largo, FL; and went to college in Boston, MA.
what do you make or do?
I paint original works in oil or mixed media, and create a full line of mounted and paper prints, cards and resin-cast sculpture. I show at vendor events like Patchwork as well as in galleries, retail shops, and online.
where can we find your creations?
is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?
HumanTreeRobot is both the name of my business and the name of the ongoing series of artworks I show. In gallery exhibits I have always shown under my name, as artists often do, but as I moved into vendor events, I wanted to create a ‘brand’ and the series name became the business moniker.
how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I have been making art and music since I was a kid. I was accepted to a fine arts college out of high school, but I followed my music muse and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. I spent many years playing and recording music, but never stopped painting. Over time the painting bug grew too large and I had to return to my first passion. I’m fortunate to have been doing this full time for the last 10 years.
when you’re not making things, what do you do?
Make other things. No kidding! I spend about 10 to 12 hours a day painting, print making, sculpting, playing/rehearsing/recording music, building displays, doing online work and other projects. I need a clone. Although trips to the mountains or the dog park have been known to happen.
is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
It’s both. It’s my job and my sanity. I need to have a creative outlet or the wires start heating up, get crossed, and short circuit.
what obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
Discussing my work with people has never been one of my strong suits. However, the more opportunity I’ve had to show, meet new people and share information about my paintings, and my process, I have become more comfortable in that arena.
did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
My mother was a painter, and my father a musician. That isn’t to say my parents had paints, canvases, guitars and pianos strewn about my childhood home. Their influence seeped in over time. I developed my love for art and music slowly, and by the time I was heading to college, it was going to be music or art and that was that.
where do you find inspiration?
If I only knew! It’s never in the same spot I found it last time. I have realized that if inspiration is lacking, time away from the project can reinvigorate the mind, and sooner or later, new ideas or directions flourish. Visually I am drawn to abstract painting and astronomy, and sonically I dig a soulful groove or an amazing melody/vocal performance.
what’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
My original works and my print line are developing and entering new markets in galleries and retail. I see much larger sculptural works happening, and I’m working out how to get these ideas into reality. I’m also a big fan of the designer toy genre and am developing characters that will take HumanTreeRobot in a new direction.
if money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
It wouldn’t change much to be honest. I would still make art and music. The difference would be, I think, the ability to use any amount of time and resources for any project.
what would be your perfect day off?
What is this ‘day off’ everyone keeps talking about?
what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
It’s okay to suck. It’s okay to make mistakes in all aspects of creativity, in business and life in general. It’s what you do after mistakes that can strengthen your voice and your resolve. I would also advise that anyone who endeavors to create for a living should understand and accept down to their core, that in all likelihood, achieving your goals will take time. Some achieve goals/success in a short amount of time, but most successful creatives/artists/makers spend years at the anvil, hammering away until they ache through to their bones. So I guess in short my advice is, be prepared to suck, and to be in pain. Wow. I may not be very good at giving advice.
who are the makers that inspire you?
There are too many! I have met incredibly talented creatives, makers, designers and artists that leave an indelible impression. I really dig when someone comes up with their own take on something, their voice, and present it to the world with eyes wide and arms open. I’ve met wonderful people, who in spite of obstacles, arrived at a point in their creative output where they are showing the results, and thereby themselves, to others. That’s a bold, scary and exhilarating thing to do. When I see that done with sincerity, I’m inspired to go back into the studio.