F&M Stories

Young Alum Startup Merges Art and Economics

Franklin & Marshall grad Mark Marotta '21 grew up with an appreciation for paintings, but never imagined he’d launch a startup tailored to artists by the time he graduated.

Leveraging a joint study degree in economics and English, Marotta launched Amparo in his senior year. The web platform provides a space for emerging and established fine artists to display their original paintings in a virtual stage setting.

“I started to learn more about what the artists were looking for and decided to do a twist on a standard e-commerce website,” said Marotta.

Through Entrepreneurship at F&M courses and Lancaster’s Demuth Museum Marotta met an established base of Lancaster artists seeking assistance to broaden their customer base.

“We were a younger class able to provide help to artists either looking to expand on their current digital presence or help build it,” Marotta said. “It was inspired by what a lot of bigger retail stores are doing where you browse and ‘walk’ through a store virtually. We wanted to do that with a gallery of original paintings while providing artists with data about their artworks' performance.”  

Originating in Lancaster, Amparo’s cohort of artists now extends from Dallas to Boston, where Marotta now resides. Marotta remains connected to the Lancaster community as a Demuth board member.  

Mark Marotta '21

Amparo advisory board members include Joaquin Villarreal, director of entrepreneurship at F&M, and painter Claire Giblin, former curator at the College’s Phillips Museum of Art. 

“Amparo is the kind of startup that I believe embodies all that social enterprises can be without compromises,” Villarreal said. “It is both technologically advanced and artistic, not only socially responsible but socially oriented, all while having a solid business model for financial sustainability.” 

Leveraging his economics background, Marotta reminds patrons that investing in original artwork does more than provide aesthetic inspiration. Art is an investment in local communities and a stable asset to businesses, outperforming the S&P (a key stock market performance indicator) by 14% between 1995 and 2020. 

“Mark has done a fantastic job going through the stages of the entrepreneurship program at F&M and gradually applying his personal growth and learning to mold Amparo's vision,” Villareal said.  

In addition to entrepreneur, Marotta will soon don another title: juris doctor. He will attend Suffolk University Law School starting this fall. 

Mark Marotta '21

  • Founder and CEO, Amparo 

  • Hometown: Harrington Park, N.J.

  • Current city: Boston 

  • Major: Dual major in economics and English (creative writing)

Why did you choose F&M? 

I knew F&M was a good writing school because my brother [Joseph Marotta '14] had graduated a few years beforehand. I figured I was definitely going to learn that skill and figured I might as well acquire something else, which is where that econ major came in.

It’s a true liberal arts institution in the sense that you can take advantage of a diverse set of opportunities and new interests. I held leadership positions in fraternity life (Phi Kappa Psi) and competed on the men’s rowing team while completing a joint major. I found the F&M community to be incredibly approachable, which helped to foster an encouraging environment where stepping out of your comfort zone is mainstream. Everyone is also extremely focused, and this determination definitely rubs off onto others.  

Of all the entrepreneurial avenues to choose, why art?

My parents are responsible for my initial interest since they were always bringing my brothers and me to museums growing up. But my passion began once I started speaking and eventually working with the artists. 

I found a very interesting, encouraging community. Once I started working with artists and talking about the details and processes around artwork – and the approach different artists take in creating and then selling their artwork – it was gravitating for me. 

Do you have a favorite art museum? Favorite art style?

The Cloisters, in the Bronx [an extension of the Metropolitan Museum of Art] is my go-to. I find it to be an intimate museum. 

For my favorite style, I like abstract, especially large-scale, representational abstract works. I think when you see the vastness of it, it’s overwhelming. But, realism paintings from the Renaissance were my introduction to art.

Amparo has a variety of landscapes, both impressionist and realistic, as well as abstracts.

Amparo logo

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