Mark McGrath is the president and founder of Piquarium. He grew up in Alameda and Lafayette, California in the San Francisco Bay Area. He still lives in the Bay Area.
Mark believes that life is not a dress rehearsal, so he has enjoyed taking risks and exploring a few different roads. His adventures include years spent in acting, hospitality, and technology, in that order. He has managed business teams numbering from 3 to 600, and taught sales and marketing techniques to IBM and to the general public nationally.
One of the most unique chapters of his working career was with Transcisco Tours, a 15 million dollar luxury cruise train operating from San Jose, traveling to Lake Tahoe twice weekly. Mark was hired to create the on-board product and experience from scratch. He created fine dining, full bars, and on-board entertainment within the confines of railroad cars. His product, the “Sierra 49er Express”, garnered national attention from exposure on CNN and The Robin Leach Show.
His San Francisco catering company’s clients included NBC, Tiffany & Co, Neiman-Marcus, Cartier, Oracle, Danielle Steel and many other top international companies and the cream of San Francisco society.
Mark has been a painter all his life. His uncle put a paintbrush in his hand, along with a collection of oil paints and a blank canvas when he was 10. After many years of experimenting with pen and ink, charcoals, watercolors, oils and acrylics, he found that he most enjoyed painting large canvases with abstract themes. He has had his work shown and many of his pieces reside in homes and offices. His style is bold, colorful and physical. The only time Mark uses a brush is to sign his work. All other paint is applied via palette knives, sponges and his hands and arms. He now lends his style to Piquarium frames in the MRM Original collection. He paints these, one at a time, often working with customers’ suggestions on color, density and intensity. The frames evoke the style of Mark’s hero in art, Jackson Pollock.
There is a story behind Piquarium’s birth. In 2004, Mark had a close relative fighting cancer in a care facility in San Mateo, California. This relative always lived on, or near the water. Mark took a look at the boring landscape painting across from her bed and told her that there’s got to be something better to look at day in and day out. Mark at first thought about setting up an aquarium (the big box on the floor type) in her room, but the room was tiny. So, thoughts shifted from the wall to aquariums and back. Why couldn’t there be an aquarium that hangs on a wall? The next time he visited he had some rough drawings with him. She loved the idea. The next visit he had a very crude, small prototype with him. The plan, you see, was to bring the ocean to her. Unfortunately, Mark didn’t get the wall aquarium done in time for her, so he put his sketches and prototypes in his garage, where they sat for almost a year. Friends and family that were aware of what he was dreaming up started asking him what became of this cool fish tank on a wall idea…he explained he was just doing it for his loved one and since she was gone, he had moved on. After much encouragement, enthusiasm and quite a bit of prodding he dusted off the models and drawings and Piquarium (the blending of the words picture and aquarium) was born.
This small idea for a loved one eventually turned into Piquarium, Inc., which now ships to all 50 states and Canada. As of April 2021, there are 5,300+ Piquariums out there in homes, offices, restaurants, bars, hotels, salons, spas, medical facilities, senior living facilities and funeral homes.
Mark is very excited to have created a product that transforms any environment with beauty, color, life and tranquility. We dedicate it all to R.M. You are missed. XOXO.
Founder/owner Mark, with his first Piquarium at home, August 2006.
Mark with his current home Piquarium, April 2021.