Mark Ulriksen at Studio Kroner

Marlene Steele

As a solitary Santa grapples with multiple tow lines, maneuvering the full freight Ever Given to dockside, a throng of surfsiders are vid-chatting away. Aptly titled “ Ever Giving”.

Wrung out, yet feisty, a lone boxer sits spread eagle on the ringside corner stool, his skinny arms strung out on the ropes of fate. Pinning you with wary eyes is none other than George W. Bush, assailed with Oval Office woes and out of punches.

Dogs: solitary dog, floating in a tube, or lots of dogs, noses on the glass in every apartment window, wistfully slobbering over the single tree on the city block below.

Who hasn’t paused, who hasn’t chuckled, over the cover of a New Yorker Magazine and thought “Yup, hit the nail on the head with that one!” Frisco phenom Mark Ulriksen Illustrates his point of view of it all, giving platform to his personal cultural commentary and the shared human experiences of everyman.

Studio Kroner, located in Cincinnati on Court Street, is opening with a selection of favored illustrations on September 1st with the illustrator on site. 

Ulriksen, whose 13 year career as graphic designer shifted to illustrator some 30 years ago, enjoys satirizing pop culture trends, political poobahs, international quandaries and various other situations of perplexity that pepper the whirling mega-cycle of social media as we know it. His work has appeared on 68 New Yorker covers to date as well as many single frame cells of frozen hilarity between the covers, The Washington Post, and on and on.

Mark Ulriksen: “As an illustrator, you are everyman..”

Mark admits to hoarding tons of magazines and clippings to entertain his muses.

Ulriksen’s interest in black and white characters and movie stills augments his choice of elements and use of lighting as he develops his concepts on tracing paper. After sketching ideas in various sizes, it’s off to the copy machine to refine the concept, before transferring the final design and putting color to surface. 

I asked Mark about how he kickstarts his idea processes, given that his production timelines (on acceptance) are notoriously short with heart attack deadlines. He admonished first: “Working for the client IS rejection,” submitting sketches and waiting to hear if the editors are moved to accept a submitted cover or panel. He typically moves several ideas through the pipeline as he culls the daily trends and events of the day for subject matter. Ulriksen thrives on avoiding the common assumption or literal interpretation, often allowing the whimsical element to slip in, injecting frivolity and flippancy into the imagery.

Portrait of Julia Child

World renown and loved by all is the indefatigable French kitchen goddess, Julia Child, known for her conviviality in the face of any offsetting circumstances as she assembles choice produce and catapulted chickens into tempting cuisine. Ulriksen portrays Child in a minimalist TV screen setting. Child’s brilliant red apron, pulled snug by a thin black tie, suggests a shape-twin in the red stew pot of boiling broth. Orchestrating the elements with a kitchen cleaver held high above her froth of curly hair. Julia is nothing but confident, judging by the raised eyebrow and swirling, dancelike gesture amid a cascade of chicken soup ingredients.

Drive for Show, Putt for Dough

The structure of this illustration is predicated on the left to right read and reminiscent of the segmented story picture used by Italian Renaissance artists. Sparcely leafed, super high trees sway gracefully with pencil thin trunks as they delineate the action corridors of the double episodes.The tall golfer on the left tree shadowed green contorts his spine and sinks his hip perfectly as he wallops the ball down the green. The fourth tree in bends graciously as if to verify the arc and shot placement on the course. On the right side of the illustration, the competition concentrates on the money shot at the edge of the manicured dayglow green, the sink or miss actually happening out of frame.


We are viewing the most famous personage at the Louvre, her patient expression barely conceals her long-suffering composure as legions of tourists in various stages of social media rapture, cell-photo her pictorial presence ad-nauseam. Cast an eye over the horde and eventually you see one tourist with a distinctive white goatee, shouldering his way through the crowd while slipping the Museum brochure into a breast-pocket. It’s the artist himself, five bodies back from the wall moving on to more accessible displays.This caricature seemingly serves as stand-in for his signature as well as a vivid comment on the paucity of our current social addictions.

Mark Ulriksen will conduct a gallery talk on Saturday, Sept. 3rd. 

Opening reception Thurs. Sept.1st Check for details http://www.studiokroner.com

Exhibition on view through Oct. 1.

All images supplied by Mark Ulriksen