How This Self-Taught Artist's Work Reflects Life's Intricate Journey

Paige Simianer | May 30, 2024

This artist traces his interest in art back to his mother's passion for painting. 

Artwork Archive's Featured Artist, Mark Acetelli, was brought up in an artistic household where he was encouraged to explore many forms of creative expression. This included music, painting, photography, and poetry.

As a self-taught artist, Mark's works are inspired by the personal introspective journey of life—the ever-changing complexities of love, loss, birth, and transformation. 

He describes the context of his work as “simple expressions of complex thoughts, created by capturing the physical mixed with the spiritual.” He seeks to evoke a feeling rather than a defined image, referring to his work as “Absence and Presence”—how something or someone can be gone, but a presence remains.

Mark’s application of paint is an extension of that thought process. Using traditional brushes along with palette knives, rags, and even his hands, he continuously builds up and tears down the surface, adding and subtracting, stripping away layers to achieve greater clarity of emotion.

Each layer adds to the narrative and depth. “During this creative process, I lose my attachment to the end result, this allows me to create freely and openly as possible and to communicate where the conscious and the unconscious intertwine," the artist reflects. 

Artwork Archive had the chance to chat with Mark Acetelli about his minimalist style, advice he has for other artists, and how Artwork Archive helps him manage his studio and art career! 

You can see more of his work on Discovery and learn more about his art practice below.

Mark Acetelli, Crossings, 84 x 36 in, 2022

Can you walk us through your creative process? How do you begin a piece, and how do you know it’s complete? 

I usually start a painting with a limited color palette in mind, but I don’t plan it out ahead of time. It’s strictly based on what I’m feeling at the moment. I let my intuition lead the way and trust in the process. 


In your statement, you describe your art as “simple expressions of complex thoughts.” Can you elaborate on how you balance complexity and simplicity in your pieces? 

I distill the work down to its simplest form: line and color. I build it up, then tear it down, adding and subtracting until the emotion or thought is expressed. 

I want to say more with less. It’s about dissonance and resolve; sometimes it’s the space between the notes that you feel the most.  When the brush stops, the meaning continues. 


Given your minimalist style, how do you determine the right color palette to fully express the intended emotions or themes in a piece? 

It’s all about feeling. I paint what I’m feeling and what my lived experiences are.

I like to take chances. I want to challenge myself by using colors that I’m unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, just to see what happens.

I take myself out of the safe, shallow waters and jump into the deep end. That’s where the magic happens. I must go beyond the surface and dive deeper to find what I’m looking for. 

Inside view of Mark Acetelli's studio. Photo courtesy of the artist

What impact do you hope your work will have on those who view it? 

I hope the people who experience my work are moved in some way.

That they feel something—whether it makes them happy, sad, angry, or moved to tears—it’s truly out of my hands.

But, if I've made them feel something, then I’ve done my job as an artist.  


In hindsight, what’s something you wish you knew before becoming a professional artist?  

For me, it was about structuring a business model for success.

I had zero business experience; if I wanted to make a living, I needed to learn how to run a small business.

It's not just about painting; there is a whole other side to the picture. It was a big learning curve—one that I’m still learning to navigate, with all the art world's twists and turns.  

Running a small business...where do you begin?

There's a lot that goes into running a small business—especially as an artist. That’s why we’ve come up with a Free Guide for artists to follow, so you can better understand your art business and develop a step-by-step strategy for success.



Can you tell us about a failure or setback you may have had in your artistic journey,  and what you learned from it? 

When I first started out, I did some commissions that I never got paid for, and I had a dealer who left town with my artwork, never to be seen again. I’ve also had shows that didn’t sell. It happens; it’s part of the business.

Don’t get discouraged; learn and grow from each experience. I’ve learned that good communication skills are very important. If you are doing a commission, get a contract written up so everyone involved knows what’s expected, and there is no confusion. The same goes for working with a new gallery. But sometimes it’s as simple as a handshake; it all depends.  

Mark Acetelli, Plato's Path, 36 x 84 in, 2022

Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to organize your artwork and manage your art career? 

When I became a full-time artist, I had many things going on all at once.

Artwork Archive helps me with multitudes of things, from Inventory Reports to Tear Sheets, Invoicing to Sales.

I use it daily. It’s a great resource and one that is vital to a successful career as an artist.  


How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?

Any new works I make go directly into Artwork Archive.

That way, my inventory is always up to date. I send out Tear Sheets and PDF files to galleries and potential collectors. It saves me so much time and effort and makes daily administration duties easy, allowing me more time to get into the studio and work. 

How to impress galleries, collectors, and potential buyers:

How you manage and present your business can significantly impact your success.

And, as artists like Mark Acetelli have discovered, Artwork Archive's Reports Feature can set you apart from other artists.

Using these reports showcases your dedication to the business side of your art practice, making you a favorite among gallerists, potential collectors and buyers, and even your accountant.

See how another artist uses Artwork Archive reports in their workflow here.


What advice would you give an artist who’s just starting out in their professional career? 

Work hard, and be patient; nothing happens overnight. Keep showing up; don’t wait to get inspired—get to work. The muses will come if they see you are working. Make lots of art, develop your own style, and find your true voice. 

Don’t be afraid to fail. Lose your attachment to the end result; it will help you loosen up and be in a state of flow.

Get your work out there, network, and go to art openings often!

Remember, being a successful artist is not just about creating; you also have to learn how to wear many different hats. Educate yourself in business, be professional, and check your ego.

Be humble, kind, and authentic.

Nurture relationships, find a mentor, embrace change, and don’t force things. Just let it happen and live in a state of gratitude and abundance.

And, lastly, definitely use Artwork Archive! It’s beyond valuable on the road to becoming a successful artist. 

Mark Acetelli, August, 59 x 79 in, 2023

Mark Acetelli uses Artwork Archive to keep track of his artwork, send out work to galleries, publicly share his portfolio, and a lot more.

You can make an online portfolio, catalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reports, tear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business. 

Purple graphic with screenshots of Artwork Archive's system. White text reads: Artwork Archive: An online portfolio + business management platform for artists. Get the all-in-one platform artists use to manage their artwork and career. Green button that says Try it Free leads to Artwork Archive's main sign up page.




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