Recently, Mark launched an art education program, The Mark Rivard Skateboard Art Education, a unique program designed to provoke and inspire students to strive for success through hard work and recognition of one’s potential.
Skateboards. Art. School. Stop it. Where the heck was this when I was trying not to bang my head against my desk praying 4th period would just end!?
Everyday we are blown away with what can start with Sharpie. Today, we have been blown to pieces, so we will let Mark tell you about it while we try and wrap our head around this amazing-ness!
Tell me! What have you been up to lately!?
What a rollercoaster ride it’s been since the 2011 campaign! I have been busy! The last year has seen so much opportunity for me it’s been unbelievable, but the most important opportunity came in the form of an idea I’ve had for quite awhile. I started a skateboard art education program, which has been a passion of mine. I’ve been creating art, painting, skateboards, sculptural pieces, just really letting the creative process grow which has been really interesting. Life is good, and art is STILL FUN!
I know WE KNOW how, but tell us how you got started with Sharpie!
My relationship with Sharpie started about five years ago when my aunt, who is an office supplies manager, mentioned to her Sharpie Rep that her nephew used Sharpie markers to illustrate skateboards. That rep must have said something to the marketing team and the next thing I knew I was doing an interview for this very blog! Then in 2009 I was invited to become a member of inaugural Sharpie Squad, from that opportunity we have just continued to spitball ideas and I am yet to find a better skateboard illustration tool… There’s a lesson here too, foster your relationships. Young artist are always asking me, “How did I get where I am?” It’s those around you that are so instrumental in your success. When I got my foot in the door with Sharpie I ate up every opportunity I could, I’ve been pestering the bigwigs over there for years with ideas and projects I want to work on (Pestering?! PLEASE- we love it!!) . If someone would have told me five years ago that I would have the relationship I have today with Sharpie I would have thought they were crazy, but here we are, and you guys still answer my calls!!! Thanks Sharpie, it’s been an incredible five years! Cheers to us!
Since being THE skateboarding force behind 2011’s ad campaign- you have started up your own education program? Fill us in!
This has been the one thing in my life I can honestly say I am the most proud of. I used the momentum and recognition that 2011’s Sharpie campaign afforded me and developed a program called Rivard Art Education. I wanted to find away to give back, not only to skateboarding, but also to kids that are a lot like I was growing up. School didn’t come naturally for me and I always had a hard time finding things that I was genuinely interested in. The older I’ve gotten the more I realized my passion for helping people figure out their role in life. I was fortunate in the things I’ve been through that I was able to find an outlet that I was so passionate about. I was able to better my life because of it. I want to help people learn to recognize that kind of drive in themselves. School doesn’t have to be a drag ( seriously where were you during my 4th period class?!) and if I’m in a position to help make it better, even if it’s just for a few, than it’s something I am committed to doing. I feel like with the campaign I was given the chance to use some of the inspirational themes to piggyback off of and create a, pay-it-forward, type momentum through the Rivard Art Education.
As for skateboarding and skateboard art itself, that is merely a tool. I wrote this piece called “The Skateboarding Springboard”, which I think best describes the basis for the program:
“A couple of days ago I was talking with a friend about his idea to develop a skateboard school through one of the local shops. As we were talking I realized that the fundamental reason for success with these types of programs has nothing to do with skateboarding itself and everything to do with the interactions and openness brought out by the idea of skateboarding and the aesthetic of skateboarders. How do we sell this idea to group of people that have zero understanding of skateboarding? The kids don’t care; they are intrigued by anything & everything when presented in manner that is giving them the freedom to discover their own outcomes. How do you sell to a PTA? Or a group of people who’s ideas of skateboarding is negative? You prove to them that skateboarding is simply a means to a larger conversation. The lesson and value of the experience is in the conversations had collectively while working on a skateboard. It’s in the way you watch a young person come to their own realizations while pushing a Sharpie across the bottom of board. Skateboarding is simply the springboard to so many other positive emotions and a tool used to inspire the emotions that in turn define what a young person is passionate about. Once a kid discovers a passion they have instantly added a positive value to their own life, they’re now off and running with they’re own ideas. And a kid with an idea is powerful thing…”
What has inspired you to start Rivard Art education?
I’ve been fortunate enough in the past to be invited to speak at a couple of schools around the world and those were some of the most fulfilling experience I’ve been apart of as an artist. The first school I had ever been to was a high school in Dienze, Belgium, I was invited to speak about the differences between American and European Youth and Pop Cultures. I was in Belgium doing an art show and a friend, who was a teacher there, thought I would be a good compliment to her current study of American Cultures. It was a true honor and the response from the students was incredible. I was also graciously invited into an all boys’ Muslim school in town called Al Kohr just outside of Doha, Qatar, in the Middle East. I started to realize that through my art and my story I had a positive message to spread. That message was in a way it’s own internationally and culturally recognizable language, the values were relatable through cultural barriers.
After the 2011 campaign I received an email from a local elementary teacher stating that I was an artist her school was going to being featuring and studying over the course of their school year. I responded and told her that I was honored and would love to stop by and say hello to the students. We got to talking and essentially created the Rivard Art Education, which had its first official run as a five-day residency at Liberty Ridge Elementary in Woodbury, Minnesota. From there it has snowballed into national and even international interest with offers to visit schools, conferences’, and seminars as far as India! I have a lot of appreciation for the support and insights that a few key teachers and educators have provided me in getting Rivard Art Education off the ground. Tess Soucheray, Jill Brown, Jessica Frisco, Lorelli Byrne, Shannon Opichka, and Joanne Toft were all key’s to inception and success of the program and they deserve so much appreciation for their efforts in helping me get this going. Thank you!
I know I would be psyched if you had come to my school, how could kids/schools get involved?
You can contact me through my website: www.RivardArtEducation.com! There are so many ways and ideas for incorporating the program!
Are you still working as an artist and creating those amazing Sharpie decks we have come to love?
Absolutely! My time spent actually creating has been challenged with the birth of all these new projects, but at the end of the day I still find myself sitting down and sketching out skateboards… I’m an artist all the time, you can’t shake that…
What’s on the horizon for the rest of 2012?
The rest of this year and going into 2013 are looking busy. I have a number of schools I’m going to be visiting and the program is turning into a full time job. One project I am super excited about is an opportunity to work with Brunswick High School in Virginia. We are doing a project where I will hand deliver 100 skateboards to the school to and be making art with the students for a few days there. It was a project that hit near and dear to me when I learned of the high school. They had approached me about making a visit and after a lot of brainstorming we came to the conclusion that there was simply not enough funding for the trip. The teacher had talked to me about her schools budget for the art department and I thought I had to help in some way. Instead of giving up I proposed a challenge to the school, and to myself, to raise the money and make, what I’ve since branded as “The Virginia Project” a reality. The ultimate goal of what I do is to prove that you can do anything in life you put your mind to, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to prove that. So in January of 2013 I will be going to Virginia to spend a week with the students of Brunswick High School! I’ll also be visiting schools in Ohio, Colorado, and all over my home base of Minnesota with more opportunities coming up daily!
Where can we find you? :
Talk about having the coolest teacher EVER?! Mark Rivard just won’t quit making his mark and we just love him for it!