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Markus Jentes shares about how his first solo exhibit was a turning point for his artistic journey and how his advertising career has helped him with his entrepreneurial one.
The beauty of art is how its perspective changes with the observer. To the artist, it’s born out of inspiration, and an experience. To the observer, it transforms into a new memory based on the emotion felt upon seeing the art piece.
As you enter the Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea gallery at The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, the first thing you notice are the pops of colors around you. The geometric shapes and vibrancy of colors lure you inside; as if teasing you, daring you to come closer. And the closer you get, the more you notice the details of each piece–its abstract beauty, the titles that refer to specific places, and more importantly, the emotion it awakens when viewing each piece.
“My influence is to create an experience, but when people view it, they create their own experiences,” shares Markus Jentes. MIAMI is his first solo exhibition in his career as an artist. His art style features no people; rather it focuses on colors and shapes–the abstract. “I had to figure out how to convey what I felt and how this would manifest in colors. If nobody read the titles, I want them to feel happy or create a nice mood without having to show subject matters.”
Prior to our interview, Markus had shared with me a story about a young boy who would visit the gallery daily, fascinated by the colors of the paintings. During his daily visits, he would open up the guest book at the entrance of the gallery, and create art of his own, in the form of sketches. It’s a testament that no matter what age, art inspires people to take action.
Photos by Markus Jentes
These unforgettable experiences and memories were then immortalized on canvas and print. Markus shares how some titles are reminiscent to the places he’s been like Haulover Beach while others are about what people would experience in Miami. There’s even a painting named after the infamous show that catapulted the peaceful town into a bustling city that serves as a humorous touch to the exhibit.
Markus Jentes’ first solo exhibition entitled MIAMI is a collection of abstract paintings and pigment prints that capture the vibrant personality of the city in Florida. Though it’s been over ten years since his visit to that city, it’s made a lasting impression that has translated into art. “I remember the lifeguard houses in Miami were so colorful: turquoise, pink, orange; and thinking, ‘This is so funky!’ There were neon lights and the people were on another level of flashiness. It left an impression.”
And while his first solo show was five years in the making, Markus Jentes’ connection to art began out of curiosity. And can be traced to familial roots. Growing up, he saw his mom sketch using different materials like colored pencils, watercolors, and pastels while his affinity for abstract art can be linked to his dad being an avid art collector. As with most kids, he started with coloring books, but with time, Markus started to experiment with colors as well as different mediums like acrylic and watercolor. And eventually, acrylic would become his choice of medium because of how versatile it is. “The textures you can build with them are unique,” he says. “When you mix them with other different mediums to create different consistencies, it really changes the characteristics. That’s the beauty of it when you mix.”
Photos by Markus Jentes
His parents each brought a different influence in terms of his art: his mom taught him more about color mixing and his dad encouraged him to learn more about different art styles. He also attributes his artistic growth to his art teacher in Brent who encouraged him to take art more seriously as well as his professor while at boarding school in Switzerland. And it was during his time at this Swiss boarding that he had his first group art show.
Markus then studied Bachelor of Fine Arts and Art History at Pepperdine University in California. While earning his art degree, he became interested in learning more about how heavily connected the period’s events and experiences are to influencing art styles. Up to today, as can be seen with his own art, his experiences are the inspiration behind his art and his first painting exhibit, MIAMI.
And MIAMI was the turning point in his career as an artist and helped him decide that if he was able to do a solo show, then it would be the beginning. “[The show] made me decide, ‘This is it’. If you can produce a solo show with all this material, there’s no stopping you. There’s no reason you can’t do it.” It would be the launch of his career as an artist. And up to this day, his family still plays a big role in his art. “I also wanted to do [the solo exhibit] because I wanted my family to be around when I do it. They supported me through art school and it’s important for me that they see it.”
Before launching his career as an artist, Markus Jentes had been in the creative industry of advertising, design, and multimedia, even starting two agencies of his own. Almost two decades in advertising has trained him to have a certain approach to things–an approach that he’s taken with him in his career as an artist.
It’s influenced him in two ways: through art and communication–how effective a message is in persuading customers and strengthening brand affinity. “As an artist, you can learn from advertising and graphic design and use this in fine arts. Not in terms of style, but rather how an artist markets one’s self. You have to pitch, sell and defend your work.” He even shares that as a business owner, you learn to do everything top to bottom and the same can be applied as an artist.
And as an artist and entrepreneur, one has to be able to sell one’s services and build one’s business. “Art is not just about passion and doing what you like. If you want to make a living, you have to be able to push it to people. You have to be a people person. You have to communicate well and know what sort of circles you have to be running.”
While art is seen as a highly creative field, there is always a business and a marketing side to it. “I’ve talked to many types of people. You are influencing them and expounding on your work. The more people you meet, you get an idea of what they’re looking for and they can connect you to other people. You have to keep those doors open and stay relevant.”
While creating art is what he does the majority of the time, Markus also pursues other projects that help build his income like consulting and e-commerce. “Art is not something easy to live off. Some people do it well, but it took them years to do that. I’d like to make a decent living out of it. Money can’t be the entire factor.”
Like any business, there are multiple sources of income even for art. There are selling paintings through exhibits, commissioned work, pieces that can be reproduced in limited editions, and even working with architects, interior designers, and hotel developers. Right now, Markus’ strategy involves having one big show a year, and doing commissions, but he’s expanding to working with architects and developers as well as international companies that sell art. No matter what other projects he pursues, he assures that “Art will be there for good.”
Read more about how you can start your own creative journey as an entrepreneur.