Conceptual artist Mark Wagner puts drawing front and center on abandoned courts.

Conceptual artist Mark Wagner puts drawing front and center on abandoned courts.


Mark Wagner

Take 5: Chalk Up Another First

Mark Wagner of Hearts & Bones Studio ( is no ordinary artist. From creating concept art for feature films to creating a world-record chalk drawing with kids in Alameda to drawing on the desert floor at Burning Man, this energetic and frenetic Alameda artist, also a dad, is on fire.

Do you have a favorite medium?

I’m an oil painter at heart. I love to draw, so chalk is cool and fun and community based. And computers … still blow my mind.

How did you decide to become an artist?

It wasn’t as much a decision as it was a feeling. In second grade, my older brother and I had been keeping sketchbooks together. He showed me a drawing he had just made, and it did something to me … woke me up? I said, “That is so cool. I wanna do that!” I continued to draw monsters and spaceships as a kid, and a few years ago, I ended up working on the Pixar/Disney film John Carter and got to again draw monsters and spaceships.

What are you currently working on?

I have a small nonprofit, Drawing on Earth, which passionately connects art and creativity to youth and communities around the world. In 2008 our first project set a Guinness World Record for the largest pavement art with the help of 6,000 people—most of them Alameda elementary school kids. We accomplished our goal. I continue to teach chalk drawing in schools in the Bay Area. I’m beginning to work now with veterans and continue to draw in schools.

Any new chalk projects?

Yes, I’m working on creating the first chalk drawing park possibly in the world. There are four abandoned tennis and two basketball courts on the old naval air base near the USS Hornet. Drawing on Earth is in the process of applying to the city of Alameda for rental permits. The vision is to have the park open on weekends and other times for the public, for schools, and for special and corporate events to draw. I’d like to bring internationally known street [chalk] painters to Alameda to run teaching workshops. Stay tuned:

What else we should know about you?

I’ve created five pieces of art so far that have been photographed by satellites. The last piece was at Burning Man 2012. I had a small garden trowel and scratched into the desert floor over several days and covered over an acre of playa. Check it out on Google Earth, location latitude 40°48’7.02″N, longitude 119°12’35.43″W. I have a few bigger visions—using driverless vehicles using computer programs to drag something that makes marks and someday using this concept to draw on the moon. Go figure. In the bigger picture, the main thing I am interested in is the creative evolution of the planet, especially with kids. I think the best investment into the future is nurturing their creative spirits. Anchor creativity and the imagination in their bodies and I know they can help solve some of the bigger problems in the world.

This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Alameda Magazine
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