Artist Spotlight: Pierce Marratto

Written by Elise Olmstead

I was introduced to Pierce Marratto through Ben Penigar, who happens to be our Industry Spotlight this month.  He works with Grey Area production handling their graphic design and occasionally designs striking show posters.  His work is crisp, bold, and graphic, and upon learning that he also paints and illustrates, I was delighted to see his vision applied to more mediums.  What holds true throughout all of his pieces is bright colors contrasting with dark backgrounds and outlines, and vibrant details with a sharpness that of a graphic tattoo that holds up through the test of time.

When did you start making art and when did realize that you wanted to be an artist?

I’ve been doing this pretty much from day one. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting at my grandma’s dining room table drawing pictures of my favorite BMX riders or comic book heroes. My entire (gigantic) family supported it the entire way and still do. I dabbled in sports and other things growing up but always came back to art. It was never a question of if I was going to pursue it as a career….just decided by the gods I guess.

Funny story, I actually found a folder of drawings I did sometime in 1995. In it was a roster of bands that I had made up…each band had “press photos” (hand drawn by me of course), a show poster, a bio, logo, and so on. Here I am 20+ years later essentially doing the same thing. Life’s funny sometimes.

Did you study art?

Yeah…going way back. Being that my interest started very young, I feel like my art teachers growing up always gave me a little extra attention.  They could tell it wasn’t just a blow off class for me. In turn, I got pushed a little harder from very early on. In high school I was in AP Art classes that were super comprehensive as far as what was taught. They were also extremely in depth and difficult… every medium you can think of, art history, term papers, and literally hundreds of hours of drawing. I hated it then but that went a long way in preparing me for this lifestyle. I finally ended up getting a BFA in Fine Art Photography from Barry University in Miami, FL.

I also watch a shit-ton of youtube tutorials…


What was the first medium that you fell in love with and how did that progress?

Of all of the mediums that I have tried, the one that grabbed me the most was ink. A lot of my early training in drawing was very traditional, mostly pencil…and mostly with the aim of being photorealistic. Somewhere along the way I got a hold of some quills and well ink. Once I started throwing that stuff around, there wasn’t any going back to a pencil for anything outside of a quick sketch. It was just too loose and fun to ever think about going back to pencil as a finished product.


You do graphic design as well as painting and illustration, tell me what you enjoy about each kind of art and how your work differs in each one. Which one do you enjoy the most?

I love it all really…but what really gets me going the most is the balance between the mediums. The digital stuff is super controlled and clean whereas the more analog mediums are much more messy and expressive. I definitely feel most free and at home on the studio floor covered in paint. But that can be left too open ended and my brain sort of wanders after a while. The digital work tightens me up, but too much of it leaves me feeling stagnant and stifled. So it’s about finding the happy medium (pun intended). When I find that right balance and interplay between it all, my productivity soars. What it comes down to though is that they aren’t really separate from each other…sort of spokes of the same wheel if you will. It’s a fairly regular occurrence for me to take elements of graphic pieces and work them into paintings, or to illustrate photos that I’ve taken and use them on posters, and so on.


What is a medium that you would like to try? What are you artistically exploring right now, whether it be a style, theme, or medium?

So much…just so so much haha…I’ll narrow it down to a few that I am really excited about…

First and foremost, I have wanted to get into animation for a while now and recently began to learn how. I’m not really looking to do full story type stuff…I’m more interested in doing small vignettes, animated GIFs, etc. I basically want to make my paintings move.

Also, I am in the early stages of some collaboration with a few writers. Larry Pishko, a friend of mine from my brief stint in AmeriCorps, has been writing these fantastic short stories that I will be illustrating. Also, I was just introduced to a local poet named Brandon Fury. Brandon and I are going to exchange works to be the basis of two future works respectively ~ So I’ll give him a painting that he will write a poem about and I will be doing a painting based one of his poems. Both of these projects are, at least for now, just for fun. We’ll see how they materialize though.

Beyond that I have put a lot of energy in the past year into really trying to get my name out nationally amongst artists, managers, agents, etc…in hopes of continuing to grow and expand my work within the music industry. Of all of the commercial work that I do, album and poster art are easily my favorite so I’ve been chasing those types of gigs more and more and finally seeing some success.

Who inspired you growing up and who inspires you now?

It’s funny because I am a visual artist but a lot of my inspiration comes from musicians…I tend to put them and their craft on a pedestal…as if its somehow a higher artform than mine…seems silly saying it out loud and Its no wonder I ended up working in concert production haha. Not that I didn’t have favorite painters though, I do…of course. But whether it was famous painters, my favorite musicians, important historical figures, or whatever else, I was always into the risk taking types….folks like Hunter Thompson, Duchamp & Basquiat, Alan Watts, Terrence McKenna, Joe Strummer, Frank Zappa, and so on.

Are there any themes or underlying messages in your art?

I like to try to create a spacious sort of narrative within every piece. I use the word spacious because they are intentionally left open ended rather than being direct and literal. There is definitely some imagery that weaves throughout…but overall I think a lot of my stuff ends up being ethereal and kind of cerebral in nature. That is both intentional and not…the hope though, is that the imagery will speak to some deeper truth or understanding rather than an obvious surface message. Whether or not I am successful in that, who knows.

What sort of emotion do you hope to invoke in those who view your art?

Hope, mostly. Or to be more specific, finding hope in the face of adversity or finding hope where there is none…things like death, isolation, decay, etc. I know that sounds morbid and cliché but there is something to be said for attacking those uglier sorts of things head on using art. In a lot of ways, its therapy. In working out some of these issues you end up touching on universal themes. And even if they are surreal or distorted, they feel relatable. It’s unintentional to a point but I recognize it now and don’t fight it.


What is your favorite work to date and why?

They are all favorites for different reasons. That sounds like the easy way out but its true. If you are doing this art thing correctly, a piece of yourself should be going into everything that you create. It would be like asking to pick a favorite child. I don’t have kids so that might not be a totally accurate example but you get the idea.

If I HAD to pick a current favorite though, it would probably be Gnosis (attached image of woman with arrows flying by). Of all of the newer pieces that I have done that one felt the best. Its too new for me to really articulate why that is but it just feels powerful.


What advice would you give to other artists?

Come at this thing as if you’re life depended on it. Its hard being an artist and it takes some weird mixture of passion, insanity, guidance, stubbornness, support, love, and luck to make it work. At times it’ll take furious intensity. At times it will take furious dancing. Work hard but also don’t take yourself too seriously. Party on Wayne.


Where can we view and buy your art?



Concert Production:



Twitter / Instagram: @PierceMarratto