Joey Mars is an artist, an entrepreneur and very, very busy. For decades, he's created his signature illustrative rock concert posters - and more - filled with space beings, one-eyed monsters and aliens - colorful, fund and distinct. He's got Massachusetts covered; born in Worcester, he grew up in Wilbraham, lives in Barnstable and ist part of the Helltown Workshop Artist Collaborative in Provincetown.
“I was influenced, and almost raised by some of the Lowbrow masters,” Mars shares. “I learned from watching Rat Fink Monster Hot Rods, Ed Roth, Robert Williams and Zap Comics. My work is hugely affected by R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin. I’ve always embraced the ‘there goes the neighborhood’ mentality.”
Music has always influenced his work. “Album cover art and rock posters shaped my path early on,” Mars said. “I didn’t play an instrument or sing, but I was the poster artist. Being involved with the Boston and Worcester music scenes gave me a real purpose and belonging.”
In the late 1980s Mars stumbled upon Worcester Artist Group (WAG), a non-profit, grass roots collaborative filling 10,000 square feet of the
Rockwell Sprinkler Factory. “It was our church,” he explained. “Like the art peace corps. I lived in the WAG warehouse for three years — all that art and music!” He served as president of WAG for a year. “WAG was one giant collaboration ... it was artists helping artists.”
Decades later, the collaborative sprit caught Mars again, in the form of Helltown Workshop, a five- artist collaborative Mars is part of in Provincetown. “We have gallery and art space on Whaler’s Wharf. It’s sort of an art gang,” he said, including Kris Smith, Ethan Manach, Matthew Millet and Andrew Jacob. “Each has areas of expertise — and we all share the common desire to showcase this new art movement that’s taking hold.”
Over the years, Mars’ work has evolved. “I’ve progressed from
drawing to painting. I go back, use early styles mixed with new techniques. I push myself to use new materials and explore differently-sized works. Larger works use expanded arm movements — expressing different results than smaller, more intricate forces. I love the watercolor medium — lately I’ve combined pen and ink with watercolor and gouache on paper.”