One doesn’t have to travel far to catch an eyeful of beautiful murals and creative craftsmanship throughout Cocoa Beach’s businesses and building-sides. From colorful impressions of underwater scenes to uniquely painted pottery, it’s clear the community supports art out and around the downtown landscape. With so many talented hands to choose from, we were pleased to hear one of our local artisans was chosen to create a piece for the re-opening of our beloved Publix Cornerstone Plaza marketplace. Newly erected and brimming with a buzz only a much-anticipated business can generate, the new (and improved) Publix brings a promise of fresh, bountiful produce, marketplace supplies, convenience, trusted quality and a deep dedication to customer service and community involvement. Publix further endeared itself to our township when they sought out a local artist for a centerpiece in their store’s decor.
Much like his artwork, Longnecker personifies a classic beach vibe; colorful clothing and an easy nature epitomizes the casual, “I live the way people vacation,” seaside-life persona. Such nostalgia can easily be found in his artwork as well. When asked how one could describe his artwork, he suggested his coined phrase “Tropi-Style,” which is “basically tropical style, where the focus is on the beach, tropical imagery, lots of color and anything that reminds you of vacation: blue water and palm trees.” All of which, he mentioned, are very appealing to divers, ocean lovers and beach lovers.
Many moons past, Mark left the town of his youth, Fort Lauderdale, in search of a community to lay down roots and build a thriving tattoo business. He knew he wanted a location near the beach, with a tropical landscape.
Once he landed in Cocoa Beach, he knew he’d found just the spot; with a dynamic beach break and an easy lifestyle, Florida’s premier beach was the perfect location to hone his craft.
From there, the small boy who began his love for art painting his family dog grew to become a celebrated tattoo artist, recognized both locally and throughout the world of tattooing for his iconic, tropical style. His successes reached international levels when he competed as a semifinalist in the TV show series “Ink Master – Rivals.” We can only assume every surface he touches is left with a splash of color and an easy tropical vibe infusion ideal for our beach town setting.
A man of many pursuits, Longenecker is known not only for his lively art, but also for being a huge proponent for reggae music and charity work.
Though the list of the charity organizations he supports is long and distinguished, it is his work with Surfers for Autism that inspires him the most. Of the organization he says, “Surfers for Autism is the biggest charity I support, have the most love for, and put the most heart into, because I’ve seen it work. I’ve worked with a lot of charities that I believe in, most of which only require a check. However, I enjoy contributing to Surfers for Autism mostly because I’ve seen the improvement in the kids, with my own eyes. A kid will show up at the beach making no eye contact, but leave the beach making eye contact, hugging and smiling… I see it making an impact in a child’s life. The ocean is a healing place, and I know that Surfers for Autism is a formula that works.” He further adds he’s been working with them since he first arrived in Cocoa Beach, fifteen years ago.
“When you go to a traditional festival, it’s all about the bands and DJs are considered background music, playing in between sets. With Dub Massive, the DJs are the superstars and the focus is on them and their performances. It’s all about dancing and listening to new and old music,” Longenecker says. Traditionally, the venue has been Cocoa Beach’s Sandbar Sports Grill; however, Mark says he’s open to new ideas of going bigger and locating a larger venue in the hopes of supporting the growing interest and success of the event and the charity it supports.
When we asked Longenecker what was next on his list of goals to accomplish this year, the man decorated head to toe with imaginative tattoos and a rich personality looked back with a genuine smile and said, “I’m going to yoga teacher training!” Well then, Longenecker, we will see you on the mat. But in the meantime, don’t stop what you’re doing! Cocoa Beach thanks you.
To see and learn more about Mark Longenecker’s art, look for him on Instagram @marklongenecker or visit his tattoo shop website endlesssummertattoo.com.