Mark Stephenson

Contemporary visual artist and ux designer living in Ottawa Canada.


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On Now: CSArt 'M' Installation, Clover Restaurant - Vernissage Feb 16, 2017

CSArt presents M

#M was conceived specifically for the CSArt 2016/17 Season. CSArt Ottawa is an organization that curates a season of art events that range from musical performances, theatre, visual art, writing and spoken word.

M is a portrait painting installation that you want to touch and engage with. It provides a shared experience where by the viewers can manipulate the “pixels” and create countless permutations of the art. It is ever changing but it is also temporal and only exits for the duration of the exhibition. Afterwards it is disassembled into it’s 49 pieces (pixels) and distributed to the subscribers and other patrons.

Each pixel box is independent and has three sides that can be rotated. Mounted together in a 7 by 7 grid they create three self portraits and countless unique combinations as each box presents three opportunities and can be easily changed. When the boxes are removed from the grid each becomes it's own independent artwork and a memory of that shared experiences.

To encourage exploration each of the three portraits has a unique resolution and the colour scheme is unique to two and combined for another. Some look to discover the three portraits and others are more interested in disrupting to create something truly unique.

This is a completely new work for me that mixes together things I love; making, interactivity and portraits. My inner maker/inventor was inspired through designing, testing and refining the pixel boxes (All the Pixel Boxes we're laser cut at the Ottawa Library maker space, Imagine Space). As I like to play with interactive works and portraits this provided me a great opportunity to combine those in an installation, I call it M and at it's core it's a self portrait.

Media Coverage: Apt613 Endless Art

  • M Detail
  • M Detail
  • M Detail
  • M Detail
  • M Detail
  • M Detail
  • M Detail
  • M Detail
CSArt Ottawa Clover Food and Drink Dominion Brewery Kin Vinyards

Social Portraits (#socialportraits)

“If Social Portraits was a filter, I’d take more selfies”. – Social Portrait 010 Aimie

#socialportraits is an exploration of the online persona through the painting and sharing of social media profile photos.

As the paintings are completed they’re shared online using the hashtag #socialportraits for everyone to see, like, share, and comment on. Mark is out to capture that epic selfie, perfect angle, big moment, the morning after or whatever it is that you have used to represent your carefully crafted online persona.

Social Portraits brings art, social media and people together in an engaging project that begins online and ends in a physical gallery.

As the portraits are completed Mark is posting images on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Ello etc. and on the Social Portraits website while using the hashtag #socialportraits.

Social Portraits has been funded through a successful crowdfunding campaign, have a look at the Kickstarter.

Would you like to cover this as a story, here is my Media Release for Social Portraits (pdf).

Media Coverage: CTV Morning Live (video), Metro: Modern-day portraits: Ottawa artist turns selfies into oil paintings, Apt613: Social Portraits: Where social media meets artistry, Ottawa/Gatineau culture blog Faison-ici and the Ottawa Citizen.

I'm sharing my crowdfunding knowledge on the Ottawa Art Council's web site, Part 1 - Pre Launch.

  • Social Portrait 010 - Aime
  • Social Portrait 011 - Lillian
  • Social Portrait 012 - Megan
  • Social Portrait 013 - Tiana
  • Social Portrait 014 - Justy
  • Social Portrait 015 - Daniel
  • Social Portrait 016 - Crystal
  • Social Portrait 017 - Kristina
  • Social Portrait 018 - Stephane
  • Social Portrait 020 Adrian
  • Social Portrait  022 Rachel
  • Social Portrait 023 Colin
  • Social Portrait 024 Shirl
  • Social Portrait 025 Pat
  • Social Portrait 026 Bill
  • Social Portrait 027 Daniel
  • Social Portrait 028 Dominique
  • Social Portrait SP 030 Angela
  • Social Portrait 031 Andrea
  • Social Portrait 032 Artress3
  • Social Portrait 033 Charlie


Pen and Ink Life Drawing by Mark Stephenson
Pen and Ink Life Drawing by Mark Stephenson
Pen and Ink Life Drawing by Mark Stephenson
Pen and Ink Life Drawing by Mark Stephenson
Pen and Ink Life Drawing by Mark Stephenson
Pen and Ink Life Drawing by Mark Stephenson
Pen and Ink Life Drawing by Mark Stephenson
Pen and Ink Life Drawing by Mark Stephenson


Windows of Opportunity (detail) Oil Painting by Mark Stephenson
Golden, Oil Painting by Mark Stephenson
Oil Painting by Mark Stephenson
Pondering (detail) Oil Painting by Mark Stephenson
Oil Painting by Mark Stephenson
Oil Painting by Mark Stephenson

The List

"Are you on The List, you know that elite, get you into places list? No, well come sit in a chair worthy of a VIP for a moment or two, while Mark creates a piece of art based on you and your VIP qualities."

The List is an art installation at Nuit Blanche Ottawa that provided both a spectator and a individual VIP experience. The willing participants (VIPs) we’re greeted, walked the red carpet and sat in a chair within an exclusive, decorated, open air lit space. At that point, Mark talked with the VIPs while creating a quick gestural abstracted portrait sketch. Once complete the portrait was revealed, set aside to dry, and hung on a purpose built structure for all to see. Before the participant left, they we're pin that lets people know, “Hey, I’m on the List!”.

The List grew over the course of the night, final count involved 100 paintings but represents many more VIPs than that. Many times groups of 2, 3, 4 and 5 would come in together and be represented as a group in one painting.

Fun Facts:

  • Used reclaimed interior latex paint.
  • Design and fabricated painting tools, structure, hooks and panels
  • Painted from 6 till 4 am
  • Mark Painting
  • Mark Painting
  • Mark Painting
  • Mark Painting
  • Finished paintings hanging at NBOG
  • Finished paintings hanging at NBOG
  • Finished paintings hanging in Mark's studio
  • Finished paintings hanging in Mark's studio
  • Finished paintings hanging in Mark's studio
  • Finished paintings hanging in Mark's studio
  • Finished paintings hanging in Mark's studio
  • Finished paintings hanging in Mark's studio

NBOG Firefly

Firefly is a wearable, social light installation. These playful, wearable Firefly pendants, flow through various light sequences, based on human contact and socialization patterns, engaging their audiences into discussion and exchange. From a vantage point the keepers of the fireflies will paint an array of light, data and human interaction into a new space. 250 Fireflies we’re distributed at the opening event of the Nuit Blanche Ottawa Gatineau 2013 festival.

Firefly is an artistic collaboration between Mark Stephenson, Michael Grant and Darcy Whyte.

This project received funding and assistance from, the Awesome Ottawa Foundation and ArtEngine and has recently received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council for continued development on the project. Version 2 is underway and will be revealed soon.

  • Michael Darcy and Mark posing with their Fireflies
  • Firefly at the Artists Launch Party
  • Firefly at the Booth
  • Firefly at NBOG Basecamp Launch Party
  • Photo of the Firefly
  • Firefly at the Ottawa Mini Maker Fair
Ontario Arts Council


The HipsterMonocle is a small laser cut monocle like object with a handle and interchangeable lenses. The HipsterMonocle takes it’s inspiration from photo haring apps Instagram and Facebook. The monocle adopts the square photo format, rounds the corners and even has coloured lenses responding to the concept of filters. All said and done, it’s a fun, social analogue to Instagram.

Eventually the project comes full circle back to the online space with a web site that documents the use of the HipsterMonocle online via photos tagged with #hipstermonocle.

This project started as a concept exploration used as part of Mark's Designing for Laser cutting workshop. The project has since had a couple commissions; one for the Creative Cities Summit in Ottawa in 2013 and for a fundraiser for Nuit Blanche Ottawa + Gatineau 2014. For the NBOG fundraiser a new version of the monocle has been developed that has a specific connection to the theme of Detour.

  • Dual HipsterMonocles
  • Original HipsterMonocle with no lens
  • HipsterMonocle in use
  • HipsterMonocle in use
  • HipsterMonocle in use
  • Hand painted lenses
  • Creative Cities Summit HipsterMonocle packages
  • Creative Cities Summit HipsterMonocle
  • Nuite Blanche Ottawa Gatineau Limited Editon Detour Hipster Monocle

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