Mark Morris—the owner of Visual Imagination in Peculiar, Mo.—is definitely one of the most sought-after painters in the high-performance boat industry. And for good reason as the 53-year-old has been at it since 1998 painting some of the more notable catamarans, center consoles and V-bottoms over the past two decades from the likes of Cigarette, DCB, Fountain, MTI, Nor-Tech, Skater and more. Most of the past themed MTIs that come to mind— Speed Racer, Mercedes-AMG, Looney Tunes, Spooled Up, Batman, Pass Blocker and many others—were painted by Morris, who raced professional motocross until he retired at age 31 and started painting full-time.
Meet the creative powerhouse behind visual imagination.
Morris, who said he’s broken 21 different bones in his body, credits his influential father—a gifted electrical engineer—for allowing him to follow his dreams and pursue his passion for painting at an early age. He also calls out his wife, Laura, for being unbelievably supportive of his career and the tremendous amount of time it takes. Fortunately for Morris, who painted his first vehicle—a 1970 Chevy van—at age 15, he doesn’t have to spend any time commuting, unless you count the Polaris ride to and from his house to his 9,000-square- foot facility on the same property.
We caught up with the father of twin daughters—Abbie and Amanda, who recently graduated from the University of Central Missouri—to get to know the painter better.
Do you have a favorite paintjob? If not one, maybe a top three or five?
You know we have done so many that I like that what normally happens in most cases is that the boat we just finished is my favorite one. I’ll never forget the first one and there are others, such as Speed Racer, Black Diamond, Lickity Split, the last couple of Cigarette 515s, that are my favorites for different reasons. I have an extremely good team—they’re talented and we all work really well as a team, so we continue to push ourselves with every project even after all of these years. I feel like there’s always room for improvement and that if you settle you can end up going backward.
The things I’m most proud of are the industry partnerships we’ve forged with several different manufacturers—we’ve done some fairly involved paintjobs on some incredible boats built by quite a few first-class companies—and the relationships we’ve maintained with many of the people who have commissioned us to paint their radical boats. We’ve had a lot of repeat customers and many of them have turned into friends.
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