College for Creative Studies: Illustration


Mario Moore

92nd StreetY

Artist; Weekend Program Coordinator

Brooklyn-based artist Mario Moore likes to describe his paintings in the words of the music he loves.

“Sometimes my work is like Marvin Gaye's ‘What’s Goin’ On,’ or more like Tupac’s ‘Dear Mama’ or even Mos Def's ‘Umi Says,’” explained Moore. “The point is, my work is a reflection of my surroundings, understanding at the time, position in the world and perceptions of those around me… I like my work to spark conversations and discussions about issues that may be hard to address or subjects that are often overlooked. And, I just enjoy creating. Whatever allows me to do that is what makes me happy.”

One of the projects Moore has enjoyed working on most was a series of drawings he did of women of color.

“I drew all of them from life, and I enjoy the exchange that happens between sitter and artist,” he said. “It’s a collaboration that can't be one sided.”

Currently, Moore’s work is being shown at the Harlem School of the Arts (through February 3, 2016). Last year (2015), Moore’s work was featured in eight shows: three solo and five group exhibitions. His solo show at Winston-Salem State University inspired a student from a neighboring university who visited the exhibit to write Moore a letter thanking him for his work.

“The student told me how the show affected her in a positive way and how the work that I was doing was important,” said Moore. “I also found out that two classes from the university she attends were writing papers about MY show. That was something I never foresaw—really mind-blowing!”

While Moore continues on his path toward the goal of being featured in the collections of museums and/or other institutions, he acknowledges the impact his strong work ethic and drive has had in motivating him to make work despite financial challenges he may face along the way. In addition to his personal work, Moore is also the weekend program coordinator at the 92nd StreetY Art Center in Manhattan.

“As a working artist, there have been times that I’ve had to figure out how to keep making work and believing in what I’m doing on little to no money,” said Moore. “I still sometimes take up illustration jobs, but I realized that I don’t like people telling me what to make when it comes to my work.

“Thankfully, I took a ‘business in art class’ in college that was really insightful for me. A lot of artists don’t understand how important it is to have an understanding of business to be successful. Another valuable class (I loved to complain about!) was Eric Olsen's painting course. Dude is a genius, and that class opened my eyes to learning how to paint quickly and efficiently.

“Choosing art as a career is a serious decision. You have to have the passion to pursue it and stay dedicated."

"Over the years, I’ve met several artists who have graduated from some of the top art graduate programs and stopped making art because it’s too hard. You have to stay dedicated. That’s what I believe sets me apart.” 

To view more of Moore’s work, check out