We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Jared Zufelt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark Jared, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I am by no means a thrill seeker. You will never find me jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or swimming with sharks. That being said, risk has played a HUGE role in my professional life… propelling me to opportunities I once thought were beyond my grasp.
As someone who struggles with anxiety, risk can certainly be a bit of a double-edged sword. I fret over decisions (before, during and afterward), but also have an innate desire to lean into the challenges that scare me. In exchange for “pressing the bruise”, I have been rewarded with a number of grants and fellowships, travelled to the Philippines to direct a new play in Manila and shot fashion editorials in Paris.
But let’s not forget the role of failure. Putting yourself out there also means risking rejection and failure. As an artist, the rejection of the work is often hard to separate from the rejection of the individual. However, I have found my failed projects have taught me just as much about who I am as an artist, where my strengths lie and what I need to work to improve.
Ultimately, I have learned over the years that putting myself (and my work) out into the world, even when I wasn’t entirely convinced I was ready, has led to many (if not most) of my greatest artistic accomplishments.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I work as a Visual Storyteller, based on the west coast and working internationally (when Covid allows). I began my fascination with imagery as a teen, studying fashion, and working as a model and actor. Like many actors, I shifted to directing in my 30s (earning an MFA in directing along the way), before being sidelined with a couple of illnesses and surgeries around age 40. I used the time recovering to pivot to photography and have learned that my sensibilities carried over from one medium to another. Today, I help others tell visual stories… sometimes with words… sometimes not. It allows me the great flexibility to work in cinematography, directing and photography. Ultimately, I think of each of my works as a meditation… an opportunity to push all the superfluous crap to the side and focus on one pure thing in any given moment.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Mexican food. I generally trust any place with the ‘erto suffix. Filiberto’s in Encinitas is a favorite and I still have dreams about the Flautas at Mi Ranchito (Ramona).
Pannikin Coffee & Tea (also in Encinitas) always has a great, sunny vibe and an endless menu of tasty treats
Lou’s Records (Leucadia) is where I used to buy my CDs. They’ve shrunken significantly, but are still holding strong!
I’m a sucker for small concert venues and The Belly Up Tavern (Solana Beach) and the Casbah (Downtown) are both rock stars in this category!
Dog beach (Del Mar). Dogs! Duh!
Sorrentos Pizza (San Marcos). A family obsession since 1977. Get the lasagna!
Apparently I love my city through food.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are oh-so-many people who have played a role in my success, it’s hard to name just a few. I owe a great debt of gratitude to all the artists whose work has inspired me. But, ultimately, I would be nowhere without the love and support of my family. I have wonderful parents who supported all my interests, kids who challenge and inspire me daily, and my wife, Melissa, who believes in me and my work on the days I don’t have it in me to believe in myself.
All images by mjzufelt, except profile/BTS image – taken by Valentino Scaramella