Arts & Events

Tacoma artist Mark Hoppmann speaks about his illustrations in Collins

On Wednesday, Feb. 15 Collins Memorial Library featured local artist Mark Hoppmann who presented his latest series of illustrations, The Extraordinarily Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crows.

As is often the case, the majority of those patrons in attendance were middle-aged denizens of Tacoma. They shuffled through the lobby examining the work, and, surprisingly, the artist blended in with them. As it turns out Hoppmann is a middle-aged denizen of Tacoma, balding slightly and wearing a three-piece suit.

His illustrations examine an alternate dimension of sorts where crows are plentiful and perch on a variety of atypical objects, including trains, music staffs and cave paintings.

There is a subtle, slightly psychedelic feel to the drawings, perhaps because of the environments in which the birds are located or perhaps because the crows look more like blankets than animals. They are numerous and emotionless, scattered about scenes both familiar and unknown, very akin to an omen but without any malice.

Nearly every illustration feature a stunning geometric “frame,” an inked border about an inch thick on all sides that is reminiscent of a paisley pattern, though again, much more psychedelic in nature. His penmanship is intricately detailed, though he was quick to point out although his geometric designs may look perfect, from close- up one can easily spot slight imperfections.

Each illustration is titled, and many are clever and often hilarious puns related to pop-culture. “Psycrowdelic” features two crows facing one another as a rainbow of intricate geometric patterns explode from their heads. “A Murder on the Orient Express” shows a translucent, dream-like train filled with passenger crows; a murder, as the artist cheekily implies.

Hoppmann’s art, he pointed out, is created utilizing only the most basic of artists’ tools. India ink, graphite and crayon are all he used in creating his Crow series, which continues to grow and now features over 60 illustrations.

Also on display were three illustrations unrelated to Hoppmann’s series of crows. They were a sample of objects the artist has collected on his travels. A photograph of Florence, a collection of stamps in varying denominations and a photograph of a younger Hoppmann atop the Leaning Tower of Piza wearing flared bell-bottoms and thick glasses perhaps reveal an era of the artist’s life in which he discovered those psychedelic inspirations.

Hoppmann runs a website ( which features a sample gallery and links to his products, including t-shirts, sweaters, throw pillows and even infant-sized pajamas.

The illustrations are currently on display in the Collins lobby near the circulation desk. The next time you’re in the library, take a minute to look at some of Hoppmann’s art. The exhibit is certainly worth checking out.