December 3, 2022

We asked the Puppets and Puppets founder about the things she values most—in art and in life.
Artnet News,
So much of the art world orbits around questions of value—and not just in terms of appraisals and price tags. These days we are asking: What is worthy of our time, our energy, our attention, and yes, our hard-earned cash?
What is the math you do to determine something’s meaning and worth? What moves you? What enriches your life? In this new series, we’re asking individuals from the art world and beyond about the valuations they make at a personal level.
A few years ago, Detroit-born, New York-based artist Carly Mark started a side project merging fashion and fine art. Since then, it has become a full-fledged, sustainability-minded ready-to-wear brand—Puppets and Puppets, named after Mark’s beloved rescue Chihuahua terrier, while also nodding to the fashion industry’s (literal and figurative) use of puppets.
A cheese hat from Mark’s spring-summer 2023 Puppets and Puppets collection. Courtesy of the brand.
For it, Mark designs sculptural clothing from dead stock fabrics and accessories with an absurdist sense of humor, inspired by some of her favorite things. Often, those happen to be food things: think cocktail dresses shaped like teacups; Mary Janes on wedges of what look like Swiss cheese; handbags adorned with faux bananas, black-and-white cookies, fried eggs, and bagels.
“I love a little lowbrow-highbrow,” she told the Cut. “I wanted to design a Wisconsin cheese hat but in beeswax and beautifully sculpted. Because why not?”
There’s also a golden tinsel bag, because ‘tis the season. Before the holidays officially commenced, the artist and designer—who was nominated by the CFDA as American emerging designer of the year for 2022—took a moment to respond to our Valuations questionnaire.
What is the last thing that you splurged on?
An H.R. Giger silkscreen from Lomex Gallery: Biomechanoid (Biomechanoid Portfolio, 2), 1969. I love everything Giger; I’m a huge Alien fan as well, which he contributed to greatly.
H.R. Giger, Biomechanoid (Biomechanoid Portfolio, 2) (1969); silkscreen on black silver. Courtesy of H.R. Giger Estate and Lomex.
What is something that you’re saving up for?
Vacation in Japan. I always feel very recharged and inspired when I go there.
What would you buy if you found $100?
Dinner at Shake Shack for my friends. They have gluten-free burger buns—a must for me.
What makes you feel like a million bucks?
Getting a full night’s sleep and going to the gym.
What do you think is your greatest asset?
Patience.
What do you most value in a work of art?
Fearlessness.
Hammer Projects: Janiva Ellis, installation view. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, through January 22, 2023. Photo: Charles White-JWPictures.com.
Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention?
Janiva Ellis. Her work has such a powerful energy. Standing in front of it feels amazing.
Who is an overlooked artist who hasn’t yet gotten their due?
Lisa Frank. I have a lot of nostalgia tied to her work. I carried her folders in school and collected her stickers.
What, in your estimation, is the most overrated thing in the art world?
Going to openings. I like to really look at the work, which is impossible to do at an opening.
What is your most treasured possession?
My dog Puppet. He’s a rescue Chihuahua terrier. I think he’s about seven now. We sleep in a dog pile together every night.
Mark’s beloved dog Puppet. Courtesy of Carly Mark.
What’s been your best investment?
My brand.
What is something small that means the world to you?
A LY text from a friend.
What’s not worth the hype?
Fame.
What do you believe is a worthy cause?
Self-care: therapy, Pilates, and lots of sleep.
What do you aspire to?
Happiness.

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By Richard Whiddington
By Artnet News
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