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In this installment of Creative Inspirations, we meet music composer and DEVO founder Mark Mothersbaugh at home at Mutato Muzika, his studio on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. This is where he and his fellow spuds (Mutato combines mutant and potato) create some of film and television's most compelling music.
Mark reveals what drives his projects that have ranged from Clio Award-winning commercials, to Emmy Award-winning music for television, to soundtracks for popular video games. Mark shows us his stunning paintings and drawings that have been shown in galleries around the world, and shares his motivation behind being an artist working in various media, his fascination with mutants and symmetry, and using Photoshop to manipulate his work. He also discusses how the unique DEVO sound, look, and philosophy first came together, and why after a 28-year break, they came back together with a new album and tour.
Mark Mothersbaugh: If you got to my house there is about 300 of these books. What they are, is this is you know like what I do everyday. I do drawings. Every now and then you do a really good one and then that's the one that turns into a rug or I change it into a big painting or it turns into a DEVO record cover. you never know. I used to like to show them in groups like this because to me it's-- To me this is like my diary.
The images come from things that are happening during the day, you know whether it's a really fun piece of music or bad traffic on Sunset Boulevard. My start in becoming an artist kind of was, the ground zero for that, was the day that I got my first pair of glasses. I was legally blind and but didn't really know it. Now it's not that incredible of a situation. When you are kid you don't know that you are seeing something different than other people.
So you just think everybody has the same quality of vision as you and you go with it. I mean I remember being impressed that other people of my class somehow knew the right answers when the teacher would say, okay what is it? Tell me what it says on the board in front of the classroom. She'd ask me something and I make a joke and everybody would laugh in the class and I get put in the corner again. Or disciplined or go to the principal's office or get spanked.
I got spanked when I was in first grade. They had corporal punishment back in the 50s. Somewhere at the end of second grade I went and had my eyes test. You know, someone decided that I should get my eyes tested and I did and they found out that I couldn't see-- I could see the big E when it was about a foot away from my face. I could read the E then at that point. So I got a pair of glasses and lucky for me it was astigmatism and myopia. So although it was extreme, it was correctable.
So a couple of weeks later I got my first pair of glasses. I remember walking out of the doctor's office and I saw smoke coming out chimneys and birds flying. I saw clouds. I'd never seen what clouds looked like before. I just remember being totally blown away and my dad says "that's your school!" And I was like, wow! That's amazing. I've never seen anything that clear before. That was crazy. I became really obsessed with drawing. The next day I remember my teacher like looking over my shoulder and Mrs. Savery.
That day she said, "Mark you draw trees better than me" and it probably wasn't true. Although she could have been a really bad artist. That's also possible. But just that she said that, instead of swatting me or you know like hitting, you know cuffing me on the head for like talking to somebody or creating a disturbance or something. Because of her saying that it sent me on a path. So it was kind of a-- I think I became an artist kind of because I got to save up on getting to see things until I was almost eight years old.
So it became like this instant treat you know. It was kind of cool.
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