Mark Anthony Jacobson was born in 1972 at Sioux Lookout, Ontario. His father was of Swedish heritage and his mother was Ojibway with her family bloodline originating from Eabametoong First nation (Fort Hope Reservation) in Northern Ontario. When Mark would visit his paternal grandmother on weekends, he was fascinated with a painting gifted to her by his dad. The painting consisted of a native hunter in a canoe preparing to use his bow to shoot a moose on the shore. Mark still remembers the painting and recalls that his interest in art began with it as he would sit in his grandmother's kitchen drawing the painting on paper provided to him.

Sadly, like many indigenous children, Mark's family life was troubled and he was forced to move in with his maternal grandmother when life at home became too difficult. At 13 years old, when his grandmother could no longer afford to feed him, Mark made himself a ward of the Children's Aid in order to lessen the financial burden on her.

Living on his own, Mark discovered The Art of Norval Morrisseau book and found it to be a source of inspiration . He recalls having torn the pages out of the book and taping them all over his apartment.  Around this same time, Mark met a friend of his uncle Jimi Oskineegish named Rick Styles who ran an arts and leather craft outlet.  Rick bought him his first set of acrylic paints and canvas as well as professional grade art paper. Equally important at this time was that the Children's Aid encouraged Mark's interest in art and arranged for a mentorship program with renowned Woodland artist Roy Thomas.

The time spent with Thomas was the catalyst for Mark's journey as an artist. It was Thomas who taught Mark life lessons and technique as they sat together during pre-arranged sessions.  Armed with knowledge and a passion for both his culture and Woodland art, Mark's career was off to an auspicious start. He was armed with two important lessons from his time with Thomas: to focus on the technical skills of line work and to be original.  The next few years were spent progressing as an artist and reinforcing those lessons till they became second nature.

In his personal life, the struggle of living on his own without guidance and familial social structure became the self destructive trap the new artist found himself in. The life of indigenous youths is fraught with peril and Mark was not exempt from this reality. Experimentation with alcohol and drugs became a regular part of his life and Mark eventually succumbed to addiction.

The addiction cycle had a dramatic effect on Mark's personal life. The litany of self destructive behaviour and its well documented results had a deep impact. Yet throughout this part of his life, the young man going door to door  selling his artworks became the young man with artistic promise who found galleries interested in offering them to collectors. Somehow, he never lost focus on the art.

Like many young indigenous artists, the self-destructive behaviour culminates in a forced choice as the proverbial fork in the road appears and demands direction. At age 20, Mark found himself incarcerated and in despair: He hung himself in his jail cell and found himself in a coma after being clinically dead and requiring resuscitation. The near death experience forever changed his life for it was one thing to believe in the Creator but quite another to know the afterlife.

While his personal struggles continued and he faced numerous battles including homelessness,  Mark ultimately chose a new direction which brought Alcoholics Anonymous into his life. With a sober perspective and new tools to combat  self-destructive behaviours, his relationship with his art flourished. He concentrated his energies on the most stable and constant relationship he ever had: art.

Another important relationship developed in 2005 which deeply impacted Mark. He held a joint exhibition with his hero - grandfather of the very art movement he was now a part of: Order of Canada recipient Norval Morrisseau. Mark still speaks warmly of this time. Mark fondly describes watching his hero examining his artworks and feeling a sense of accomplishment:

"There is nothing in this world like realizing your hero likes what you are doing. When I saw Norval's eyes light up looking at my painting; I knew then that I had achieved the high standards Roy (Thomas) had told me to strive for.  Nobody can ever take that moment away from me."

Mark began to visit and socialize with Norval from then on but sadly Norval passed away two years later. While the time was short, Mark is content in knowing that he had two great artists, whom he admired, influence his life.

Nourishing his personal relationship with art over the last three decades has resulted in a reputation for excellence and originality. Mark developed unique forms and symbology for his works. His continued self-imposed demand for clean line work and paint application means a high level of technical skill has been honed to the level of mastery. Thematically, his works reflect the Ojibway cultural belief in the interconnected world of all beings, the transformative nature of reality, the power of Spirit inherent in that connectivity, the belief in the Creator and the healing power of colour and beauty. 

Mark continues the daily struggle all artists experience and know. Because of his perseverance, unyielding and self-imposed artistic standards and commitment to the lessons learned from mentors and Elders: Mark has experienced tremendous growth as an artist. He is no longer the young man selling art door to door but rather an established artist with a well deserved reputation for technical skill and originality. 

Mark is an award-winning author and widely collected artist. He was the first indigenous Canadian artist to develop a free online Catalogue Raisonné for collectors, researchers and academics. All this before he greets his 43rd birthday.

Going forward, Mark's career faces fewer headwinds. He is well established but still maturing. He anticipates moving forward with continued exhibitions, books and continued growth in his artwork. He has plans for substantial new projects, museum exhibitions and unique thematic studies in the context of Woodland art.

Considering how far Mark has progressed thus far at such a young age, it is clear his impact on Canadian art will be far beyond what he dreamed it would be when he first began selling his paintings door to door in Northern Ontario.