I am lucky enough to be one of Mark's Big, Bold, Brassy Women. Tina, Sophie and Emma are not so big but they are definitely Bold and Brassy Women. And Mark loved them more than anyone or anything.
One of Mark's favorite Big, Bold, Brassy Women was Cher. Particularly the "Half-Breed" Cher astride a Pinto Horse. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Mark at the Cleveland Cher concert in May. Although Cher did sing "Half-Breed" and later emerged from a Trojan Horse, the Pinto never materialized. Much to Mark's disappointment.
Mark was a legendary storyteller. He would ask you if he had ever told you the "Lois and the Cuyahoga River" or other story and you would say, yes, about a dozen times. And he would proceed to tell the story anyway, as though he had never told it before. And you would listen as though you had never heard it before. And you would wait for it—the dramatic, brilliant, hilarious payoff.
Memorial tributes invariably include a mention of the loved one arriving in Heaven. I can see Mark arriving at the Pearly Gates and exclaiming "Oh, Man! I don't even fuckin' believe in this place! Or you!" And he would give Saint Peter the finger. When the gates opened anyway, he'd announce "I'm going in to look for Arbus, Avedon and Winogrand and raise some hell. Let me know when Friedlander gets here!"
To Tina, Sophie and Emma - You Got Me, Babes.
Laura Bidwell, Gypsy, Tramp and Thief, 07.26.14
I knew of Mark through his affiliation with N + S. Amazing design, thoughtful executions. When I was in the AD business, I always looked forward to seeing his award winning work, wondering what he would do next. Sorry to hear he is gone...
Melissa Harris, professional admirer from afar..., 07.25.14
I didn't know Mark too well. I went to high school with his niece. But I always knew who he was because everyone who knew him held him in such high regard. As a young artist starting my post college life in CLE, I am starting to really really appreciate the artistic consciousness of the city. People like Mark are the ones who pioneered that consciousness for my generation. For that I am very grateful. He will be dearly missed by the CLE art community.
Allie Levin, 07.25.14
A couple weeks into working for Mark, he was regaling the lunch table with descriptions of his corn salt shaker collection. Without hesitating I said something to the effect of "oh that's adorable." He was slightly shocked but then he laughed and that might have been the moment where we officially fell into our lasting working relationship. As intense and demanding as Mark was, he absolutely would respect you for standing up to him. Coupled with his loyalty and outrageous sense of humor, you could never say Mark was boring. Not in the least.
Keith Pishnery, Former Employee, 07.25.14
Working with Mark wasn't always easy. But you were always awake, stimulated, engaged, even if your blood was boiling. I love that he brought that to the work and to the people he touched. He was truly one of a kind. Every time I think of his passing I get a heartache.
Liz Randolph, Former client, 07.25.14
Oh my gosh. Where to begin? Mark was (whoa - I hate the past tense here) probably the most exasperating AND exuberant, generous, hilarious genius I have ever encountered. I met Mark and Tina when Tina was pregnant with Sophie and we became fast friends. We spent many wonderful times together, most of which included laughing until we couldn't breathe and lobsters the size of our heads or some other amazing Schwartz/Katz meal. Later, Mark and I worked together and I got to watch his genius most every day. Just when I thought I was going to pop my top with frustration, we would go to a client meeting and I would be once again amazed by his sheer wizardry, intelligence and humor. He was truly one of the smartest and funniest people I have ever met. I also can't separate out the Mark magic without thinking of his place in the family of plus signs. Mark + Tina + Sophie + Emma. For me that is a formidable family sum that despite whatever the world threw at them, they rallied their internal forces to persevere. I know it will be a huge loss to lose Mark from the equation but I trust his inimitable presence will always be felt. I can think of dozens of moments of his generosity and Mark-isms. But I will close with one of my favorites and imagine Mark redesigning the ever-after and making everybody laugh with unexpected lines like "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
Stacy Sims, 07.25.14
Like many photographers, I met Mark through work. After I did a couple of projects for N+S, he hired me to photograph the trees at Vassar College. This particular job was different, however, because Mark decided that he would photograph the trees, too. We spent several days poking around the campus in a tiny golf cart. Complete with Mark’s strong opinions, art direction and non sequiturs, it was the least peaceful and the most fun assignment I’ve ever had. After giving me hell for this and that, a couple of weeks later Mark surprised me by sending a lovely and quite moving book of his tree photographs from our time at Vassar. This is one of countless generosities through the years. Mark was undeniably brilliant with words, but his gestures communicated his friendship most clearly.
Andrea Modica, 07.25.14
Mark was a very loyal and generous friend, and also one of my most influential mentors. We had worked together on annual reports and other projects for nearly 23 years. Mark's uncompromising quality standards have truly shaped me into the designer I am today. There is a huge hole in my heart now and I struggle daily to comprehend this unthinkable loss. Mark's "more is more" approach to life, his confidence to take risks (which always seemed to pay off) and his outrageous sense of humor can never be filled by anyone. I'll never forget the most recent commission for the Progressive annual report, and watching our translator and French-speaking artist try desperately to keep up with all of the "Mark-isms." You know, the candid language and off-the-wall expressions that could only come from the mind and mouth of Mark Schwartz! I imagine most of it was lost in translation, but they quickly learned to understand and appreciate what he meant through the tone of his charm, quick wit and his larger-than-life manner of being that always filled the room.
I will genuinely miss my dear friend and irreplaceable design collaborator. Mark and I seemed to balance each other in the most unexpected way. My role was often the counterpoint — frantically trying to harness his energy and provide a simple and sometimes alternative point of view. I know he respected me for that, and when we could find the middle, the results were always harmonious. Although his time with us was cut way too short, I feel comfort in knowing his innovative spirit and passion for quality and good design will always guide us forward.
Michelle Moehler, 07.23.14
Mark touched me in many ways, both personally and professionally. We met in the ‘70s, when he was a grad student at Ohio University and I was an undergrad. I didn’t have the opportunity to interact with him a lot then, but I did take note of his “big” personality on campus and in the photographic darkroom.
Our paths crossed years later when I started managing Eaton’s annual report. Our 2014 Annual Report will mark the twenty-first time Eaton has partnered with N&S on this publication. I say partnered because Mark and his team have been quintessential partners. They always listen to the business and communications needs and bring back ingenious thinking and creativity that result in award-winning, eye-catching design — the very essence of the company that Mark built from the ground up.
What I admired most about Mark was that he held firm to his beliefs… he never wavered. Anyone associated with Mark knew his trademark all-black attire. He recently recounted that once someone suggested that he should wear a standard button-down-and-tie to a client meeting. One of his daughters encouraged him to stand firm and not wear the tie. And that he did. Of course the meeting was successful.
Mark didn’t want to let his daughter down by being pressured into doing something he didn’t believe in. As a business partner and a personal friend, Mark would do most anything to ensure that he didn’t disappoint the people, clients and causes he believed in… except for wearing a tie. ☺
We miss you “Mr. Big Personality.”
Matt Greene, 07.23.14
How to capture the incomparable Mark Schwartz in a few sentences? A daunting, nay an impossible task. There are so many memories but they all begin with the first one over 15 years ago. Laurel School wanted a new graphic identity that would lead into new admissions materials. We were looking for someone who knew how to get us to where we needed to go—but who also understood who we were. As a school that had recently celebrated its Centennial, tradition was, and is, embedded in our very fiber.
My initial conversations with Mark differed completely from those with the other designers who had responded to our Request for Proposals. Beyond the standard background info, he wanted to know who would be attending his presentation, who the decision makers would be in the room. And, shrewdly, he requested having the last slot in that marathon day of presentations. Mark arrived, dressed in his standard all-black ensemble, and from the outset he captivated us. Quite simply, he “owned” the room and made it very clear that we needed to think BIG. He asked us lots of questions, some tough ones, and what he proposed was bold—literally, figuratively, creatively. We never looked back.
When Laurel School hired Nesnadny + Schwartz, we got more than Mark’s razor sharp wit and amazing acumen. We got his heart. We were partners on the same path. From day one he wanted to know everything about Laurel and, more importantly, who Laurel girls were. More than a dozen years later, with his own Sophie on the cusp of graduating from Laurel, Mark still talked about the post-presentation, student-led tour of the school that not only affirmed his decision to take us on as a client but that made Tina and him realize they wanted their daughters to grow up as Laurel girls. And so they have.
Working with Mark was a crash course in aesthetics and asking the essential questions—who are we, what do we want to accomplish, how do we get there? In not being afraid to challenge assumptions and in learning the fine art of negotiating between “free” and truly “free-free.” And in always, always being authentic and staying true to one’s self. He fought for every font, every photo. The result was, of course, award-winning materials. But it was never just about design. No, our collaboration was much bigger than that. With Mark, it was about defining who we were and helping us successfully tell our story.
Whip smart. Strategic. Opinionated. Observant. Loyal. Generous. Supportive. Exacting. Larger than life, Mark was a force of nature who “got” us and told us what we needed to hear. No sugarcoating. No beating around the bush. I look back to that presentation and the subsequent 15-year conversation. I will miss the to-the-point emails signed simply “Best, M”, the raised eyebrow over the eyeglasses during our insightful, amusing and even exhausting conversations. Especially those conversations. I will miss him. RIP, my friend.
Julie Donahue, 07.23.14