MarcusGlitteris is a mixed media artist making use of vibrant fluorescent colors to express his story and experiences. Growing up in New York in the 90s, Marcus was surrounded by art on the streets and in the nightclubs. These would come to play a large role in shaping Marcus’ approach to art and life. Expression in these early years would manifest through dance, outfits, and music. Not picking up a paintbrush until the age of 28, Marcus explains how an explosion of creative energy and inspiration for painting came into his life when he decided to cut substances cold turkey. From this moment forward, Marcus has been passionate about telling his story through fluorescent paintings inspired by the vibrant New York club scene.
In our conversation with Marcus, I found it truly inspiring that art came in at a time, as a healing tool to help them grow and flourish as a creative. Fluorescent color has allowed Marcus to express his story in a way that is truly special and unique to his journey. Hearing this story from Marcus reminded me of a special quote from Friedrich Nietzche in The Birth of Tragedy, “Here, when the danger to will is greatest, art approaches as a saving sorceress, expert at healing.”
We had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Marcus about their work, inspirations, growing up in New York, and more! Read on to find out more in an exclusive interview with MarcusGlitteris.
Fluorescent Series - Four of a Kind - by MarcusGlitteris
Can you tell me about your early life in New York and some of your creative influences at the time?
Creativity started for me way before I picked up a paintbrush. My background is nightclubs, night life, and I was very much immersed in the New York club kid culture of the 90s. At the age of 19 I started going out to these night clubs, and this is where I started to soak in this creativity from the club kids. People in the clubs would have incredible outfits that were just amazing. Being in the clubs surrounded by all these creatures of the night who were incredibly dressed, it was like they were walking performances and works of art. Some people would take 3-4 hours getting ready with their outfits, and at that point they are a living painting walking around the club.
This strongly influenced me, as I too would dress up in fun outfits and try to get as creative as I could with my look. I believe that your presentation showcases how you want to present yourself to the world, so I had a lot of fun with my outfits and how I presented myself. I wore lots of colorful clothing including jumpsuits and day glow.
Within the clubs there were beautiful rooms and atmospheres that were works of art as well. Some clubs had rooms uniquely decorated by artists, and it was such an experience to move from one room to the next with such different vibes.
Fluorescent Series - Yin & Yang - by MarcusGlitteris
You have previously mentioned the NYC club ‘Tunnel’ and how your experiences there in the 90s influenced your art. Can you tell me more about this place?
My favorite club was called the Tunnel in New York City, and it was on 27th street and 10th avenue. This place was filled with so many beautiful people and environments that felt like another world. The club Tunnel had a lot of different rooms, but there was this one room that was metallic with lava lamps and fluorescent colors everywhere. The lava lamps reached from the floor to the ceiling, fluorescent colors, planets, and stars surrounded the space, and everything glowed in the vibrant black light. I truly loved this room, this dimension, this space.
I learned who the artist was who created the room, and this came to be the first artist's name that I ever decided to remember. His name is Kenny Scharf, who I still truly admire to this day. The name of this room though, was the Cosmic Cavern. The feeling and energy that this room gave me is unexplainable. Kenny Scharf and the cosmic cavern had such an effect on me, I believe that he activated my fluorescent bulb.
Fluorescent Series - Guarding Corona - by MarcusGlitteris
Being that you utilize so many fluorescent colors in your work, tell me more about this moment when your artistic fluorescent light bulb lit up.
So as I mentioned earlier, creativity started for me long before I picked up a paintbrush. I didn't pick up a paintbrush until the age of 28. All my early years were spent clubbing and being involved in the night scene, I felt that I needed a change when I turned 28. So I decided to quit drinking cold turkey and I went straight edge. Once I cut out all these things, I felt like I had a strong creative energy inside me that I was not aware of. After finally deciding to pick up a paintbrush, I knew what I wanted to do. When I went to buy paint for the first time at the old Pearl Paint shop on Canal Street, I went straight to the fluorescent paint section. I decided on these vibrant colors because of my incredible experience with Kenny Scharf’s work in the Cosmic Cavern. I later started using metallics, glitter, and a lot of other bright elements.
Fluorescent colors have always fascinated me though and I have always gravitated towards them. These bright colors make me happy. So when I create my works, I hope to convey this happiness I get to the viewer. I want to tap into the vibrant, happy, energetic, nature of fluorescence and showcase it to the world.
The Glitteris Studio
After deciding to start painting in your 20’s, you have now showcased your works for years in many shows across New York. How do you think you have evolved as an artist?
I want to give some background and go back to my understanding of art as a kid. Throughout elementary and highschool, I always equated artists with kids that knew how to draw. Because I didn't know how to draw, I didn't think of myself as an artist. I was never good at drawing, and being able to see something then sketch it. I still am not good at that to this day. I remember getting into graffiti as a kid and seeing just how horrible my bubble letters and tags were. I cannot graffiti or draw for the life of me. What I do have though, is this limitless creative mind full of limitless ideas that I can put into my clothing and paintings.
When I first started painting in my 20’s, they look like a kid in preschool did them because I still wasn't skilled in drawing. But like any preschooler who practices and keeps trying, my art got better over time! At first I was laying down very simple imagery, shapes, and using fluorescent colors. I began utilizing more shapes, collage style elements, and textiles. Im now sewing things to the canvas and even experimenting with elements like street signs.. With all my practice and experience over the years my shapes and forms get better.
Deconstruction Series - Off Duty - by MarcusGlitteris
On top of being a painter, you also have lots of experience with music and DJing. Can you tell me more about your experience making and being around music?
-The type of music I really enjoy is house and techno music. I heard a lot of this in the clubs, and I loved how rhythmic, energetic, and hypnotic the music was. It inspired me to dance, which I did a lot of growing up. There were so many different walks of life in the club who could all get along and feel equal while listening to the music. I think of clubs like Studio 54 where you had people like Andy Warhol hanging out next to some random kids from Harlem, all just hanging out in the same space listening to this music. I loved how energetic and comfortable everyone could be.
Being that I was involved in the night life of NY, I had known quite a few DJ’s. 23:54
Since I had lots of DJ friends, they would make cool mixes for me that I could play at my art shows. Viewers thought the music was cool but recommended there be an actual DJ. So in 2007 on black Friday I bought DJ equipment for the first time so I could start playing mixes at my shows. This also allows me to stay closer connected to the very music that inspires me.
What is your advice for aspiring artists?
You always want your works to be authentic and original, but every artist has to find their own voice and story, right? So tell your story with things that resonate with you. So my artist voice has to do with fluorescent color, but now it also has to do with finding a way to explain that color. An example I can give is: my mom and I love brick walls. When I was younger and saw an unpainted, exposed brick, I felt so inspired. Architecturally and aesthetically, I loved to see them. So when I got my first apartment, it came with a brick wall which I ended up painting with fluorescent colors. I then incorporated fluorescent brick walls and brick shapes in my other works. So this idea of finding your voice has to come from within you and your experiences. Find something that resonates with you, then find a unique and original way to express that feeling.
Yellow Brick Road Series - Unisex - by MarcusGlitteris
Marcus continues to paint and make music, frequently showcasing his works in shows across New York. Most recently, Marcus featured a few collage works at the Clio Art Fair in Alessandro Berni’s Gallery. For over 11 years Marcus has been documenting his art shows, shows he visits, and more for his youtube channel. There are interviews with artists, music mixes, and all kinds of other content that Marcus has available for viewing. You can learn more about MarcusGlitteris and follow their journey via these links:
All photos in this article are courtesy of MarcusGlitteris.