First of all, I'd like to give you all a very sincere "Thank You" for your support and interest in my work. Thanks to people like you, it has been an amazing career by anyone's standards. You know, I wasn't always an artist. In fact, I was a journeyman bookkeeper when I almost kicked the bucket from Crohn's disease back about fifteen years ago. Thankfully I didn't, and when I woke up in the hospital I told everyone I know that the bookkeeper was dead after all - but in his place was a man who was going to become a successful artist. They thought I was nuts but I wasn't.
Two years later, in June 1986, I started the Coyote Series. I was living in Jackson, Michigan, a town perennially voted the worst place to live in America. My inspiration was a Joni Mitchell song "Coyote". A friend of mine put it on a tape and I listened. At the time I was 26, a dirt poor billboard painter living in a tiny one-room apartment. In fact, I couldn't even afford a shower curtain to serve as a wedding present for two good friends who were getting married in the Southwest. I figured they might like one of my Coyote drawings so I did a romantic one and took it there - the people at the wedding went nuts! Well, you know how these things go - somebody knew somebody who knew somebody in the art business, and within a year my art was being sold in galleries across the country. That was 15 years ago. Since then I have had 32 one-man exhibitions across the country. I have created 33 different sculpture editions, and 24 print editions, most of which sold out at a frenzied pace. The price of my first original was $100.00. One recently sold for $30,000. Crazy.
The Coyotes have been collected by dozens of famous celebrities, Captains of Industry, and Heads of State. From Oliver Stone to Ozzie Osborne, from N.B.C. president Warren Littlefield to Kevin Costner, from the C.E.O. of Exxon to John Cleese, from billionaire Sam Zell to Sylvester Stallone, from Tommie Lee to the American Ambassador to Argentina, the coyotes do get around. They have been featured on numerous movies and television shows, and have been the subject of several newspaper and magazine articles. They hang on the walls of mansions and great villas around the world. But most importantly, they hang on the walls of everyday people and bring joy into their lives.
Many years ago someone asked me my favorite thing about the coyotes and I said, "They celebrate life. Sometimes life kicks them around, but they embrace it just the same. Heartaches, bad breaks, job problems, job triumphs, true love, rotten luck, vast fortune. Good or bad, they celebrate," I like that. As for my great fortune and success as a painter, no one is more amazed than me. A simple twist of fate transformed my life, and I can only thank God for the good luck and tremendous blessings I have received.
The coyotes are now into their second decade. The first was a hard, fun, nutty decade of dogs in suits and the second promises to be that and more. For any budding artists out there seeking my advice I would simply say this: never give up, outwork everyone else, and don't be afraid to take risks. My work has improved each year because I test my abilities every day. I hang on to the elements I believe in and toss the rest, continually developing and growing. In this way I feel I follow the paths of the greats, even if I am painting coyotes in suits. Your vehicle may be the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, but that doesn't mean your destination can't be a great one. I look forward to continuing this wonderful journey together.
Indeed there is so much to be thankful for, and so much to celebrate. Markus
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