I met Mark the first time in a dark, dirty alley somewhere in the Mission (SF) in 2007. We painted that night, and he suggested I'd go see him the next morning at his tattoo shop. When I got there, Mark had just received a laser-machine to erase tattoos and was trying it out on his own skin, making a disgusting smell of burnt flesh. One night, after a long tour through Brooklyn's bar, Mark said we should open a gallery. Three weeks later we had our first opening.
Hi Mark, how are you?
Doin' good, thanks Lele.
You're from SF, when did you move to NY and why?
I first came to New York in 2005. I loved it instantly but hated the weather. I started making trips back and forth between SF and NY, spending 6 months here 6 months there... Dodging the heat mostly, but, really, just aimless. Transient... Until I met a girl here (in NY), on such a trip, in 2008 and I stayed. We're married now and we just had a baby girl.
Oh Olive... And how did you get into tattoos?
I always liked them. My dad had a friend when I was little who had a tattoo. A rugged, old, American flag tattooed on his forearm. I thought it was so cool. I couldn't say his name… I couldn't pronounce it maybe? I was so little… Anyway, I couldn't say his name so I just called him tattoo. I always just thought they were cool, tattoos. real tuff.
When did you start muddguts.com and why?
I started muddguts.com, I think, in 2006. Not sure exactly why. I was just trying to do something with my time. I really wanted some sort of venue to showcase what I was up too. What I was interested in aesthetically I guess? A place to show off what all my friends were up to mostly. Uninhibited. Uncensored. Everybody around me seemed to be doing incredible, amazing things with no place to show them off. There wasn't, at the time, an Instagram or Flickr or Tumblr... At least not in my scope. I suppose I might have tried to open a gallery then if I could have afforded that but I was broke. Homeless actually! I was sleeping on friends' couches for a few years at that point. A real bum. The internet was just a great place to keep my things.
What's your favorite set published on muddguts.com?
That's a tough one. But I remember being especially tickled when Nick Atkins posted the first TVTVs. That was a game changer. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen really. There was nothing like it. It was the next level to what we were doing up to that point. It crossed the threshold for me. I worry that people who see it now for the first time might not feel that same impact. There's Vine and Instagram video now. There wasn't that then. Nick is an innovator. A true visionary. He was way ahead of the curve with those videos.
Did you think Muddguts (the gallery) had the same energy as the website?
Definitely! The exact same energy... Except a lot more of it. There could only be so much energy in the website. There was an energy ceiling. All the work on the website reflects some serious energy offline. But when we brought that same work to a real space where everyone could meet and interact and inspire, it became something else entirely. Something much more. We burst through the energy ceiling. It was a really positive place/time.
What are the 3 memories that come into your head if you think of Muddguts (the gallery)?
I remember clearly that inebriated moment when we both like "we should maybe do this." I remember the moment when we signed the lease and feeling like "oh shit, were actually doing this?!"And I remember closing the gate for the last time feeling like "heck yea! We did this!"
If you had another month of gallery, who would you have shown?
I think we ended on a great note. I don't think that I would want to have another show. "Thanks for nothing" was a perfect end to that chapter.
What's next for Muddguts? What's next for Mark Cross?
I just opened my own tattoo shop! I signed the lease the day we turned in the keys for Muddguts. It was perfect. Rose Tattoo Parlour. Named after my daughter. 382 Graham Ave. At Skillman in Williamsburg. Come see us! As for Muddguts. Who can say. I'm sure we'll find another outlet someday. But for now, Muddguts radio kills it.