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Mark deSalvo: Skating, Rocking, and Painting Punk Culture

Updated: Nov 13, 2023


Written and photography by Isabel M. Castro


Fusing punk rock rebellion and visual artistry, Mark deSalvo (32), premiered his extraordinary temporary art exhibit at The Punk Rock Museum on Sept. 23, with the exhibit continuing through Oct. 31. Visitors were captivated by deSalvo's self-curated collection of 38 original works and Giclee prints, which immersed visitors in the world of Punk.


deSalvo's life is as unconventional as the punk rock movement itself. Born in Reno, Nevada, he rejected the norms of popular culture, immersing himself in skateboarding, punk rock music, and the art that emerged from these countercultures. One of his earliest creative memories was at age six. deSalvo found a dime, took it to the local post office, xeroxed a used pack of cigarettes, made a copy of the found art, and excitedly showed it to his mom. He is a self-identified illustrator (who admires Norman Rockwell) who draws and paints interesting subjects that appeal to him. His aunt Patty reinforced his passion as he discovered the flow of experimenting with lettering styles.

Later, deSalvo rediscovered the flow of visual creativity through the freedom of skateboarding in his neighborhood. Skateboarding gave him freedom, but at a cost, as he endured name-calling obscenities from local rednecks and intimidating looks from the police. Two of deSalvo’s favorite decks included "Highway to Hell" and "Cop Clowns Back" (1996) for Real Skateboards. Back then, he couldn't print them as he originally envisioned. However, with modern technology, he can now offer these decks for viewing or riding pleasure. deSalvo's teenage soundtrack included the early intense sounds of KISS, and later, he was captivated by the music of Devo.


Undoubtedly, these experiences fueled deSalvo's creativity, leading to the creation of iconic art pieces. Subversive imagery in Punk art often incorporates provocative elements, challenging societal norms and conventions, often taking a political, satirical, or nihilistic stance. His artistic style often parallels iconic album covers, reminiscent of artists like Jamie Reid, known for The Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols.


In an unapologetic Punk style, deSalvo's work is striking, ranging from personal to commissioned works and iconic, celebrated art pieces like "Fat Mike Gets Strung Out" (2023) featuring Mike Burkett. deSalvo also created album covers, including NOFX's Heavy Petting Zoo (1996), which ranks as the 11th most controversial album cover of all time, alongside legends like The Beatles and Nirvana. His art was featured on the album cover of Lagwagon's Let's Talk About Feelings and the covers of Thrasher and New Noise.


Currently, deSalvo is collaborating on a print run with Sonic Art Originals. His passions have shaped his career and continue to inspire art commissions. He is a devoted family man, married to his wife Domenica, and together they enjoy interests with their daughter, Bluma.


This exhibition promised to be a high-energy, thought-provoking autobiographical adventure into the Punk culture. For more information, visit deSalvo’s online art page at Instagram: @markdesalvo


Shaun Kama: Master Ink Artist


Concurrently, on the second floor of the Punk Rock Museum, next to deSalvo’s exhibition, is the permanent studio of Las Vegas-based artist Shaun Kama. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Kama moved to Los Angeles in the early 90s and began his tattoo apprenticeship under the world-renowned artist Mark Mahoney. Kama's passion for body art has resulted in strikingly beautiful works of fantasy, horror, and humor, earning him the title "The King of Halloween Tattoos." His ink palette is dark, edgy, and meticulously vibrant, featuring a range of subjects. Kama's inking style is both painterly and illustrative. Over the years, he has been commissioned to create original artwork for exclusive clients. Beyond his work as a tattoo artist, Kama has authored two coloring books, "Cemetery Picnic" and "Spooky Treats," as well as a Day/Night Journal, all of which are now available in bookstores and published by Blood Bound Books. Stop by to view his amazing work at the Punk Rock Museum.


For more information:


The Punk Rock Museum, 1422 Western Ave., is the world’s most comprehensive attraction dedicated to the history, culture, and absurdity of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s bastard stepchild. It houses artifacts and memorabilia from across the world’s punk scene—such as handwritten lyrics, instruments, clothing, photos, flyers, and artwork. It is also a bar, wedding/wake chapel, punk merch shop, and more. Encompassing 12,000 square feet, the museum celebrates the genre’s substantial cultural impact over the last half-century. For more information about The Punk Rock Museum, go to thepunkrockmuseum.com and follow on Facebook and Instagram @ thepunkrockmuseum.



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