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Mark Anthony Green Wants You to Give Up Your Paisley Button-Downs and Get Into His Art

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Mark Anthony Green is your modern day Renaissance Man. He writes, photographs, and produces art work; he's friendly, open and, above all else, stylish. When he's not helping his fellow brethren as GQ's Style Guy, he's creating art out of Brooklyn under his name. This Art Basel, he overtook the Dream Hotel in South Beach with his artwork and photography, which references pop culture themes. There was even a pop-up shop, with pin sets and arrows, t-shirts and towels. Come to think of it, you can still buy everything on his website.

Writing vs art, why men in Miami need to get rid of their paisley button downs and fedoras, thoughts on aging – we covered it all while chatting him up before his intimate dinner co-hosted by A$AP Rocky, where Kylie Jenner, Lily Collins, and Ian Conner were all in attendance. We then followed him to a massive afterparty sponsored by JBL, Heineken and Sprite, but not without first getting some style advice from GQ's very own expert and artist at large.

So how did that transition go, from writing to art? Did you just wake up and decide you wanted to do art, or did the art come before the writing?

You know what? I'm not going to make this sound any deeper than what really happened. But since you and I go way back, I'll just be respectful and be honest with you because we've known each other for thirty seconds. [laughs] So I woke up one day and I was like ‘Man, it would be cool if somebody did this type of art.' It was just a thought I had. So, I thought of this concept of sewing letters on, painting them, then sanding them. I needed to get a wedding gift for a friend of mine. He's like my older brother. His name is Will Welch... He's really into art, so I tried to have a friend of mine, who's an artist, basically make this thing that I thought of. My friend, who I'll leave nameless, is super dope but I didn't think Will would have liked what they [sic] made, so I made it. And it was difficult, you know? Trying to figure out how to do something for the first time, you make a million mistakes. You have to redo it and figure it out, but I really enjoyed the process. And when I finished, I had that feeling where the only bad thing about it was that I didn't have another one to make.

So you enjoyed the struggle. How does it compare to writing?

I think that's the thing that I like about writing. It's a very grueling process, but I enjoy it. Making art is also a grueling process, and I enjoy that process as well. And I think that's the reason you pick a job, right? Because on the most difficult days, you still enjoy what you're doing. You enjoy that aspect of it. You have the sweet days, the victories and the parties, and all of that. You have those moments, but it's just the icing on the cake.

How many years ago was that?

The first time I [produced art] would've been three years ago and some change, probably.

Photo: George Elder Photography

Talk to me a little bit about your new collection. Do you have a favorite piece or a favorite product?

Yeah, I do. I'm not one of those people that doesn't pick favorites. I definitely pick favorites. If I have kids, I'm going to pick my favorite kid. Like whoever is the jiggiest kid, whoever's the coolest will probably be my favorite kid. [Laughs] So if we're talking about pieces, I think the marble backboard is probably my favorite because it's the biggest, heaviest, most expensive, and most eye-catching piece. And I think that what it stands for is something that has gotten me a lot of my success. Everybody at work, people have always known that I've never been shy. So if I want to do art all of a sudden, I'll just go out and I'd try do it. Or if I wanted to talk to some beautiful woman, or if I wanted to go on some audacious trip, I'm going to want to do it in the biggest, most genre-bending way. Sometimes that's not the right thing, but sometimes it is. It's just my natural disposition. So I think there's a lot of people like that, and that piece is for them. That's probably my favorite one. In the shop, I would pick the t-shirts because I'm a nerd when it comes to shit like that. The actual process of printing and the actual tees themselves are really really good. This is super nerdy, you don't care about this, but the sleeve of the shirt is really open, so after you wash it a bunch, it's going to break down really cool.

This is fashion, of course I care! I nerd out about this too.

Oh ok, well that makes me happy. [Laughs] So the logistical, tangible product of the tees is exactly how I wanted it to be. And the images on the t-shirt. They're three amazing things. One is of the Chateau Marmont, one is Rick James, and one is Elvis, who many believed to be the original culture vulture. They speak to different things, and I really really think those would be my favorite. I haven't worn it yet, which is wack. I have got to talk to the boss and get one of those.

I think you are the boss, right?

That's what I'm saying. I got to make that happen. [Laughs]

Photo: George Elder Photography

There are a lot of pop culture references in your work; I can tell you like pizza, a lot. Is your art just for aesthetics, or is it meant to make more of a statement?

Yeah, it's definitely meant to make a statement. I'm very scatterbrain as a human. At 4:00 I can be watching an old "Hey Arnold" cartoon. (I love Nickelodeon cartoons from the ‘90s.) And I'm taking that thing so seriously, so, so very seriously. Then, by 5:00, I can be looking at some news report about some kid who was killed by a police officer and now I'm really sad. This obviously is a much more serious thing, and I take it very seriously. By 8 o'clock, I'm looking at Steph Curry and thinking he looks amazing on the basketball court, and I'm inspired by that. By 10 o'clock, there's some girl. It's all over the place and I think that's kind of the cool thing about art. It's different from writing. I make these pieces. It's also a quick thing. I think they look cool, and then I'm on to the next thing.

So when you walk through an exhibition of mine, it's just as scatterbrain as my day and as myself. Usually being so all over the place gets me in trouble because I've got to sit down and focus, but I think in this instant, it really does help. A lot of people who know me very intimately, they always walk in and think ‘This is a very honest, real depiction of you, and your weirdness and your idiosyncrasies.' I think that's fun. I'm not really someone who likes to share a lot about myself. I'm a very private person. So it's a fun exercise. I don't know why I feel comfortable sharing in this way, but I do. This is the way I'm most comfortable sharing intimate details of my thought process and outlook on the world to strangers. I'm sure it's healthy too. I don't have a psychiatrist [laughs], but this is a healthy thing to me.

Photo: Mark Anthony Green

So what's your relationship with A$AP Rocky? How did you get him on board for your exhibit?

So Rocky is a friend, first and foremost, and I did a photo exhibition with him. When I signed the deal with the Dream South Beach, I realized how much space there was and I wanted to share that moment with another artist. So I thought about Misty Copeland, the dancer. She had a big year, and it was very inspiring to me. I thought about a few friends of mine who are designers. I also thought about visual artists that I could share it with and landed on Rocky because his album is my favorite to come out this year and it's one of those albums that I had on repeat while I was making a lot of the work. It felt very natural.

He and I are the same age too. I was terrified to turn 27. I didn't have a birthday party. I didn't respond to any happy birthday text. I was genuinely terrified to turn 27 because that's when [Jean-Michael] Basquiat died. That's when Kurt Cobain died. When I was a kid, I used to tell people that I would die at 27, which was stupid as hell for me to do. Then I turned 27 and thought 'it's super lame to die right now,' so I acted as if it didn't exist. Now I am 27 and he's 27, and it just felt like there was a connection there. So I called him and was like ‘Yo, I want to do this thing for Art Basel,' and he was absolutely with it. It was awesome.

You're the GQ Style Guy. What's the most annoying question you've ever gotten? Or is there a series of questions that you're tired of being asked?

No, there's nothing that I'm tired of being asked. Hell, I've only been the Style Guy for like 12 seconds, so no I'm not jaded.

What's your most common question?

It's funny. The most common question I get asked is 'What to do if you have thick thighs?' which is really difficult to help somebody in the most general sense. I think there's just a lot of men with really big thighs out there. I didn't know that until the questions started rolling in. It was strange the first time, and it's strange the last time. And there's no way to help a guy with big thighs with just general style advice and style consult. So we're figuring it out. I'm working on something for all the guys with really big thighs to help them out with their pants situation.

So what's one style faux pas you've seen in Miami that you're like ‘Whoa, man you shouldn't do that'?

First of all, I love Miami. I think Miami has the most beautiful people on the planet. When I say beautiful people, it's very important to me that people know that I don't mean fancy, rich people and club dresses. That's not what I'm talking about. Just as far as being very ethnically diverse, it's a beautiful place. I think the problem is that when you put so many good looking people together in a room, or in a city, everyone tries to stand out with their way of dress. That could be problematic. Very rarely do people from Miami, or people who frequent Miami, dress understated. I'm just talking about guys at this point, like a guy who's wearing some really bad button down shirt with paisley underneath the collar and like four buttons at the neck. It's his going out shirt to stand out, and I don't know who made those shirts but they really really shouldn't be. They should be locked up. Those are the worst shirts on the planet. [Laughs] Every time I see one of those, and you do see a lot of those in Miami, it makes me sad. It makes me think that no one has ever read GQ Magazine here. There's too many good looking people for there to be such tacky clothing running around.

What are a few essentials that you think every Miami man should own then?

Oh man. We're talking December and it's really really humid. It's very difficult to dress when it's hot, but I will say that that you should have a good assortment of t-shirts that fit the right way. T-shirts that are loose and that are a higher quality, not muscle shirts. Going to get just some Hanes t-shirts isn't good enough for Miami because you end up wearing shirts so much. Then, I think a guy needs to have the right hat. All the small-rimmed fedoras that are walking around, they really hurt my soul. We got to stop that. We got to stop all the small-rimmed fedoras. [Laughs] Every man in Miami needs the right hat to get the sun out of their eyes. You also need a pair of great sunglasses. I do think that you need a nice jacket, despite the heat. And you need a linen suit that isn't too lose fitting, that doesn't look like a vacation suit. Oh, and I think jewelry is really important in Miami because it's a sexy place and I think women find jewelry really sexy. You don't want to take the sex appeal out of Miami. That's the last thing I'm trying to do, but I think it's got to be tamed. I really really like Miami. I come here three or four times a year.

What is your craziest Miami memory?

My craziest Miami memory? [Laughs]. I can't tell you the honest answer. I actually can't even tell you a version of that honest answer, but I will say that my fondest Miami memory has been this trip for sure because everybody has been so responsive to the exhibition. I [create] all this art and my closest friend on the planet, Warren Chancellor– he's like my brother– runs the business behind all the art. I actually dedicated the exhibition to him. I'm the right brain, he's the left brain, and so its good. I'm basically in Miami working with my best friend, and showing some people art that I created, art that I really care about.

It's not everyday that you can take over a hotel either.

It's not everyday that you can take over a hotel, no. [Laughs] And it's not everyday that I get to talk to cool people from Racked. I would tell you the craziest thing, but then I'd get in trouble.

Finally, what did you pack for your trip? What are you wearing tonight?

Oh man. That is the dopest question ever. I am wearing... How specific do you want me to get? [Laughs]

As specific as you feel comfortable with.

So I am wearing a mohair, turquoise cardigan from Supreme that looks like a bird, and a black john Elliot t-shirt, a pair of black jeans that are Ralph Lauren and they have this wax coating over them. A pair of Saint Laurent boots and some Tom Ford cologne. Some lotion, some coconut oil because my mother won't let me be ashy [laughs]. And maybe a hat. I need a haircut, so I got to figure that out.