The reason I’ve always been drawn to collage art is because of the kaleidoscopic affect of bringing together disparate elements. Between that and the evident subconscious exercise going on in the mind of anyone who has made a collage, it’s easy to be stopped in ones tracks, especially when you see what Luis Martin has been up to. Originally from LA and currently living in Brooklyn, Luis is the perfect example of all the burgeoning talent we continue to find on the web and in America’s art galleries.
His work is the result of years of examining source material, collecting and organizing in themes, and producing collage art that provides the viewer with a refined, balanced, and potent result.
First world problems mesh with inanimates, classicism, and shape in a way that honor our own intersection with the work. You can certainly take the route that feels like a commentary on modern lushness, or you could avoid that entirely, focusing on Luis’ skill in creating two dimensional visual sculptures that feel perched, designed, and clean.
Ahead we learn more about Luis Martin’s process, what it’s like to be an artist living in New York City, and how Instagram inspires him.
ELR: Thanks for sending us your collage art via our submissions page – we love when artists send us their portfolio! How’d you find out about IPaintMyMind?
Luis Martin: As part of my creative practice I make time to research people and organizations to connect with, that share similar values and personal missions, IPaintMyMind was on top of the list. I seek to make my work and art in general accessible, I love what you all do!
Super appreciated, man. And it’s awesome to hear that you consider personable outreach a part of your job. I think many artists should take that tip! But I digress! So first off, where are you from and where do you live currently? (I know the answers, just fleshing it out for our readers, lol).
I am from Los Angeles. I grew up there before the down town renaissance that is currently in full bloom. DTLA was a ghost town, I loved going to the imposing Buena Venture hotel and taking the glass elevator which was on the exterior of the building and looking out into the rolling landscape, it felt like I was flying over the city. When I graduated high school I knew I wanted to explore the world and felt New York would be a great place to start, so I bought a one way ticket. I currently live in Brooklyn.
What are the best/worst aspects of living in NYC?
NYC is a creative dream and a logistical nightmare. There is a lot of art to see, a lot of history and a lot of creative people with fire in their bellies yearning to make something special. Unfortunately, not unlike other major American cities, it is prohibitively expensive to live here. This then cuts into your time to be creative and make thing, because often you need several hustles to make due. I whole heartily recommend every artist visit New York to feed their muse, but the quality of life you and your art deserves to flourish might best be serves somewhere else.
I love walking around and taking photos. Any food recommendations for the next time I’m there?
Last year after a trip to Thailand, I became vegan. Having eaten all sorts of fresh food at accessible prices their, it made me realize my eating habits were on autopilot. It is very easy to eat Vegan in NYC. One of my favorite spots is in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn not far from where I live. Its called “Whiskers”, they have the most amazing pastries and an avocado toast with tofu scramble that just makes me so happy! … also their cinnamon roles are out of this world.
We’re glad to have connected as curators who tend to love the world of collage. Your work is an awesome amalgamation. That’s what’s so cool about collage, it’s a mix of subconscious factors and practical ones. Will you take us through the process of creating your work? Collage is done in various ways these days.
I collect images everywhere I go. Mostly from magazines and pictures I take. These images become the source material for my work. The actual art making is very organic, I feel as if I am composing a song or doing visual feng shui. The excitement is when each collage is done, narratives and meanings emerge that I was not intending to address but emerge like an act of magic.
It really IS magic. Is collage the first medium you worked in? Have you worked in any other mediums?
It was my first medium. When I was a child, my grandmother worked at a posh convalescent home and brought back high end fashion magazines. The colors and scents of the perfume samples moved me and inspired me in profound ways. Yet I felt something was missing, I did not see a reflection of myself or of my grandmother in those wonderful pages. So I started collaging images and colors that represented us. I also paint, I use my collages as sketches for large scale paintings.
Your work has a refined yet edgy vibe. I could see it working well in a wide range of spaces. We saw you just had a show in NY. Tell us more about that? How’d it go?
Thanks. I like to think of my collages as whispers that can be magnified into verberating shouts. Through prints and instillation the physically small practice of cutting paper can become moments of monumental visual impact.
The show was at David&Schweitzer Contemporary in Brooklyn. I showed two of my prints. It was a fantastic way to end the year among so many familiar faces. The show consisted of several local talented and prolific artists in the community.
What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve done? And why?
At the onset of the current political debacles, a text conversation with my younger sister in San Francisco resulted in one of my favorite collages. She, like most of us were in disbelief and suffocating in the unshakable sense of betrayal. The bully and aggressor would be crowned victorious.
I felt helpless, knowing my young sister was graduating collage and was about to enter a world gone mad. I took to my studio and worked through it the only way I knew how, through art. The collage “America Is My Sister” is an emblem of the inherent and unlimited female power that exists in my sister and all women everywhere, which can not be taken or denied.
Who are some historical artists / current artists you admire?
Over the years I have idolized and loved many artists. As a Chicano kid in LA, I fell in love with Frida Kahlo after a visit with my Aunt to the Los Angeles Museum of Art. I had never seen my own identity reflected so vividly and unadulterated. It fed my creative soul and taught me plenty. I would later love Rothko, Bacon, Cornell, but I noticed a trend. All of the artists I was attracted to, as well as the only ones taught about in school, were the ones that lead miserable tragic lives.
When I realized that I took a step back and ended the romance. Like a bad relationship, it seemed toxic to model my career and active practice based on the lives of artists who died penniless and for the most part in obscurity until after their death. Instead I looked more locally. I went to shows and met working, living artists who are just as, if not more relevant to my artistic practice than the artists in the museums. My admiration for these artists, my peers, is so rewarding and is a mutual relationship.
I often find that I am drawn to an artist as much for their approach to their work as the work itself. Are there any artists out there who you look to as far as developing your own creative process?
With Instagram it is so easy to see what artists are doing around the world. I am drawn to art work with soul. Much like music, I will listen to anything as long as it makes me feel something. The work of Canadian art star Andy Dixon radiates so much energy through color and scale. I love the work of legendary Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco whose work is a balance of emotive memoirs and objective record keeping. More locally I am drawn to the important work Brooklyn based artist Georgia Lale, who is making art that addresses pertinent human issues through performance and ephemera. These artists inspire me and remind me of the power artists have to fill the world with unapologetic color, celebrate my idiosyncrasies while contributing my work to important conversations.
How does your history and background influence your art?
My history and background influence me and my work in every way. As a person of color that can be categorized into so many other “minority” subgroups I feel so privileged to be an artists and be able to continue to make art. I often think of myself from the perspective of my younger self, the very chunky, bullied, dyslexic loner self, who did not learn to read until he was in middle school. Would he me proud of me? And just as importantly I know that there are others, I want them to see me, to see themselves in a survivor like myself. This is what moves me to continue in the down times.
At IPaintMyMind, we’re often installing art in business spaces or community spaces through our Shared Walls Program, which means we’re exhibiting art in spaces that normally don’t have it. What do you think about how art is presented these days?
The Shared Walls Program is brilliant, it is important work. It is rare for people to be surrounded by art or imagery that is not actively trying to sell them something. These moments with art, the program creates, can be cathartic experiences for a person to check in with themselves.
Currently people are more in tuned with the art or imagery seen on TV and adverting. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I think artist need to be more connected to these channels of communication through collaborations. Artists tend to stick with artists, business people tend to stick to business people. When we collaborate with each other there is more space for quality media and longevity for artists.
We couldn’t agree more. What goals do you have for your artistic practice? Would you call art your business, or career?
I want to see my work everywhere. I would love to see my work at Target stores, to make my art accessible to anyone via posters, a T-shirt or even on the covers of the books they sell. My career goal is to propagate what I do and make a place for my work. My art practice is my career so it is also my business. When an artist considers their work a career and their business they are making a proclamation that they are committed to create work despite emotions, inspiration or lack there of. They commit to this because the work they make is important to them and they will make a place for it in the world, instead of dreaming or waiting to be discovered. You can write your own invitation.
We’re so glad you did! Thanks for this, Luis!