We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Givens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
My artistic life is grounded in the folk revival, marinated in pop art and seasoned by punk rock, with a healthy DIY ethic running through it all. These elements combine nicely, in a way that encourages me to encourage others to try new things and take chances in their creative lives. Publishing books that fall just outside the mainstream and take those same kinds of artistic risks is what keeps the gears turning and the creative juices flowing. I believe that pushing boundaries and having fun experimenting with form and craft is an important part of any artistic endeavor.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Creative work is challenging from an artistic standpoint and doubly so on a business level. The value of artistic work is hard to pinpoint, malleable, and subjective. As such, a career in the arts – especially art that is challenging in itself – is a risky and often frustrating business. I have been thrilled to be able to work with such a wide variety of creative people throughout my life – musicians, artists, authors, and literary figures – people who inspire me and push my creative world in such odd and thought-provoking directions. Sometimes these collaborations are marketable and sometimes they are beneficial in solely artistic ways, but they always serve a purpose, expanding my understanding of the world around me in new and interesting ways.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The fun and intrigue in this region of Southern California is boundless, exemplified by the rich musical landscape and the plentiful dining offerings. My tastes run a little more subdued and visceral these days, preferring the quiet gathering to the rockin’ onslaught. The downtown village in Claremont is a favorite spot to take in the local scene, with the Claremont Colleges, museums, art galleries, cafes, and ice cream at the ready. We have a botanic garden nearby and our mountains are spectacular. If a visiting friend wanted to take in a good show, the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona hosts some of the most innovative artists and musicians in the area, and small concerts are always going on around the valley. Dining choices include Afghan food at Walters in Claremont, Indian food at Ashirwad in Upland, and Thai food at Lucky Elephant in San Dimas. Venturing out beyond our local community, Taylor Junction in Joshua Tree (and Joshua Tree itself, for that matter) is a wildly creative community and Los Angeles is just a stone’s throw in the other direction, if you want to get your groove on!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shrimper Records and Dennis Callaci are huge supporters of independent music and art. I am fortunate to be working in collaboration with Dennis on the Bamboo Dart Press chapbook series. The dA Center for the Arts in Pomona, CA is also a stalwart in the local artistic scene and a huge force in artistic integrity and promotion. Finally, the Inlandia Institute is a powerhouse in the literary landscape of the Inland Empire and a vital resource for our community.
Anthony Brooks, Annika Givens, Matt Hotz, Rolo Castillo, Ann Brantingham