Hi everyone, and welcome back to another week on the Chrissie Murphy Designs blog. It’s that time of the month again, our Artist Interview. This is the 2nd Interview in our series, and if you have been following along at home, you probably guessed that today’s Interview would be with Martin Yales. Well, guess what? You’d be right!
A couple of weeks ago, I shared a post about my recent collaboration with Martin. Martin and I worked on an illuminated letter H together, you can read all about it here. It seemed only natural, that we’d follow that collaboration with an Artist Interview, giving you the opportunity to get to know Martin better.
I came to know Martin in 2015. He and I were both actively posting pictures of our artwork in some groups focusing on hand lettering in Facebook. We regularly commented on each other’s work and now, 3 years later we’re still doing the same thing on Instagram. Martin and I were, and still are, at similar stages in our art journey, so we’re very encouraged by each other’s creative walk.
Martin’s story is one that is full of parallels. I know that as you read his interview, you will find elements in it that parallel your own creative journey. I hope that in those moments, you’re encouraged to keep creating, and you’re encouraged to explore more deeply, the gifts and talents you’ve been given. So, without further ado, grab a coffee and a bikkie, sit down down in your favourite comfy chair and have a read of Martin’s Artist Interview.
Welcome Martin, tell me a bit about your background and how you got into this style of art? It appears you are a very active illustrator and lettering artist…
Ok, so I’m a Mexican, residing in the United States for nearly 28 years, and I have always been interested in art. I come from very humble beginnings and we didn’t have much growing up. My mother was a single parent who always made sure there was some food.
I remember being about 3 when I started drawing, I have always drawn. When I was in high school, a teacher called Mr Robrock nominated me for a small scholarship. Every Saturday for 8 weeks, I attended the Arts Centre, Pasadena where I worked on my art, I was using charcoals and quills for my drawings. This was a good influence for me.
I have always liked the odd and rare, but have really liked old style art, like art from the old masters, such as Leonardo, Raphael and so on. I find it interesting and different, full of colour and it’s unique compared to today. The further back the art goes, the better the talent, because the resources were more limited. That really inspires me.
Where are you located and what sorts of things in your area inspire your art?
I live in the Los Angeles area, in a city called Inglewood, there really is not much to inspire me about my art style, because there isn’t much related to it. It’s hard to make connections with my art in the city, because not everyone is nice if you know what I mean. So there isn’t much here that inspires me.
I am influenced by the work of Brandon Mikel Paul, you interviewed him too, he is really good and has achieved a lot with his lettering. (Chrissie’snote: you can read Brandon’s Artist Interview here)
You have developed a unique style to your work, what would you say is your favourite piece?
My favorite style is one that I feel comfortable with. Sometimes it changes though, I just get little periods of time when I really like a style, then I put it away for a little while.
My favourite piece is actually the one we collaborated on, it turned out really good.
Over the years I’ve watched you hone your skills and develop real precision in your work. Pens, pencils, inks … what are your favourite tools for creating?
I like inks and charcoals, also acrylic paints, I have always liked watercolors but I’m not too good at it. My greatest strength, I believe, is being able to mix most colors from the base colors of red, blue and yellow.
There was this one drawing I did of a Japanese bride (above), and the background colour was this pink/purple/red colour. I ran out of it and I was able to reproduce it by mixing base colours. I was like “wow!” Now I seem to be able to mix any colours I need and this is really good.
What would you say has been the most difficult aspect in being consistent with your art and how do you handle this?
The most difficult part about being consistent, is having time on my hands, and artist block. When I have limited time, and I can’t get something done, I feel like I’m doing something wrong. So I go on Pinterest and look at things. I look at ornamental letters and colour swatches, I go there for advice and to see what else is out there to help me.
There has been periods when I stopped creating altogether for a year or two. I also have a problem with getting rid of my work! I just get too attached to it, it’s hard to give it away or sell it.
Do you have one tip you can share with us for combatting artists block?
Yes, one tip I have for other artists that are struggling to create, is to copy a style you like, and then give it a twist and make it your own.
I used to do this. When I was 13 or 14, I would buy Superman comic books. In the 90s, Dan Jurgens was the artist that did them and I really liked his drawing style. I used to copy his style, but my twist was using different movements. So if he drew them one way, I would draw them in another way with different movements. This always seemed to work when I was struggling to create, so I would suggest it to anyone else who is struggling.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
In the future I want to make some prints, and possibly get into linoleum cutting to make stamp like designs, such as Japanese prints. I really like ancient Japanese art, and the linoleum cutting sort of resembles Japanese print blocks, so it’s something I want to do. I like the designs on things like old kimono’s and would like to create work like this.
And lastly, tell us all the places where we can find you online…
My progress and current works, along with some stuff I like and do, can be seen on Instagram @Martin.Yales
On Facebook, I can be found at my gallery here. I hope you can join me.
And that concludes Martin’s Artist Interview. I hope you’re encouraged! I have always been struck by Martin’s humility when it comes to his art, you might be getting a sense of it now too. Martin has always been someone who’s open to learning, open to receiving constructive criticism, open to trying new techniques and open to embracing technology. His willingness to try out new things and seek advice to further develop his art, is inspiring.
Do you know that you can achieve so much more creatively, if you approach your creation with a humble heart as well?
Proverbs 11:2 – “When you act with presumption, convinced that you’re right, don’t be surprised if you fall flat on your face! But walking in humility helps you to make wise decisions.” (TPT)
When you open yourself up to learning, to confessing that you don’t know it all (because you never will), you are establishing humility as part of your creative journey. And yes, that’s wise… because the only way from that point, is up.
BUT… if you choose to close yourself off to receiving advice from others, if you believe you know it all when it comes to art, you are setting yourself up for a big fall.
I know which way I want to be heading with my art. What about you? What can you open yourself up to this week to further develop your craft? If you need inspiration and encouragement, go and follow Martin, search Pinterest, emulate the style of an artist you admire (but give it your own twist) or start that research on the thing you’ve always wanted to try. When you’re done, come back here and leave me a comment, tell me how you got on, I genuinely want to know.
In the meantime, let me tell you a little secret…. if you want the heads up on things before the rest of the world, if you’re after the latest news, shop discounts and the odd freebie or two, you’ve gotta sign up to my email list. It’s the monthly email you don’t want to miss.
Until next week, connect with the Creator, let Him inspire you, His magnificence and greatness is everywhere, even in art and craft.