Marcus Zotter

Marcus Zotter (BFA ’13) is splashing color all over Naples, Florida one mural at a time.

He recently completed a mural of the late-chef Anthony Bourdain for a local restaurant and is designing graffiti for a Florida construction company’s headquarters. Zotter, originally relocated to Naples after graduation and expected it to be a quick stopover to Miami, where he really wanted to be.

“I have family that recently moved to Naples so that was my opportunity to make my way to Miami,” he said. “But when I came to Naples I got all the support and work I thought I would get in Miami but I got it in Naples.”

He says the Naples art community up-and-coming and the smaller scene, compared to Miami, gives him more opportunities to connect with local artists and get paid commissions.

“I feel like I fell into the right place at the right time because we’re only 2 hours from Miami and Naples is growing younger and younger,” Zotter said. “There’s a lot of opportunity down here for work for an artist.”

To make the most of every opportunity, Zotter depends on his PAFA-training and outgoing personality. After doing some chalkboard art for the restaurant 7th Avenue Social, he pitched the owner on a live art night. The venue hosts night live music events and Zotter offered to come in and paint in the evening.

The restaurant was game and Zotter was able to introduce himself to more people in the area.

“When I do that I show people first of all I’m an artist and then I do encourage people to come up and talk to me and I’ll stop what I’m doing to talk to them,” he said.

The live painting has allowed him to get his name out there, and that has turned into job opportunities. Zotter said it can be hard for some artists to put themselves out there and socialize but the returns can be great. He’s currently working with a planned development community in southwest Florida and will be doing all of the artwork for the wellness center.

“I say you need to be out in the open, I don’t know how I would have done any of this if I was in my studio painting masterpieces’ and no one knowing me,” he said.

He credits that drive to put himself out there to his teachers at PAFA. He remembers one teacher telling a class that in ten years many of the students won’t be painting anymore.

“PAFA really focused on making us making amazing artists but it was our critiques and talking to these already professional artists who were teaching us that helped the most,” he said. “Those were the people saying, ‘This is a lifestyle, this a job and you have to get up everyday and paint and be out there in the open.’”

Even though much of his work now is heavily influenced by street art and graffiti, Zotter relies on his fine art education to create.

“PAFA really molds the greatest artist in the United States teaching us how to do the fine arts, the most complicated work out there,” he said. “Being in Philly I was very influenced by street art and graffiti so it was really entertaining to be learning fine art sitting in front of a model and then experiencing my environment which was influenced by graffiti and street art.”

The learning hasn’t stopped for Zotter. He said he tries to pick up new techniques and skills every time he makes work. Through commissions he sees his style developing.

“How do you find your own voice as an artist, your own style? I’m constantly reading books and on Instagram looking at artists and it’s hard to differentiate yourself from another artist and find your own way,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out what my techniques are.”

What he does know is that the next great project could be right around the corner, “Everything starts with a conversation.”


About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the United States’ first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers a world-class collection of American art, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and educational opportunities in the fine arts. The PAFA Museum aims to tell America's diverse story through art, expanding who has been included in the canon of art history through its collections, exhibitions, and public programs, while classes educate artists and appreciators with a deep understanding of traditions and the ability to challenge conventions. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.