Sunday, 29 November 2015

Quentin Maki and the Definitely Superior Art Gallery's 27th Annual Group Show

      Two shows at the Definitely Superior Art gallery represent great diversity when it comes to contemporary approaches to visual art, in terms of style, materials, and ideas. The creative works also represent the diverse background of their creators, culturally and in age, from a young teenage beginner to the well established professional. With the theme for the juried show being the intellectually infused term, Sensibilia, the show was guaranteed to draw like minded experimentalists interested in playing with approaches that either recently caught their fancy or are part of an established style that they have been running with for many years.
     Complementing the juried show are new works in the main gallery by Quentin Maki, who produced most of the works over the summer. Quentin teaches in the Lakehead University Fine Arts Department. His show is a stellar display of experimental and moody works that represents both his interest in total abstraction and the human figure. Both human and aesthetic expression combine to give his paintings more depth.
     Exploding in most of of Quentin’s textural mixed media works are strips taken from other paintings and drawings collaged into bigger works, some huge. The dynamism results from the jagged tearing of these pieces existing within the splatter of torn and scratched areas of the canvas or paper. The paintings are like sections of worn walls of abandoned factories, prison cells or institutions where people were housed or worked. The viewer might feel a little like an explorer of a defunct world. Or to state it more plainly the backgrounds might represent a sad person’s state of mind.
     This however, is unfair, for it is just as likely that a viewer could fall in love with the limited splashes of colour in works that clearly had to be produced with a good deal of expended physical energy. Big works require bigger efforts and the energy within makes some of these paintings appear as if the tar-like substance of carbon and manganese dioxide filled batteries has burst open on the canvases. 
    So in spite of being dark and moody the works bounce and shout with energy, most often in contrast with the sad people depicted who are living in their dark world. As is seen with titles like, Even at Rest a Fire Burned Her Eyes, Down and Out, Dislocation, Turning Away, and Solo. The results are works that offer up some very interesting uses of contrasts.
     The annual group exhibition is in its twenty-seventh year. Out of 65 submissions 39 were accepted, which makes it one of the biggest group shows DEFSUP has had. Surprisingly with so many diverse styles the cohesion is a result of international styles represented. For as much as artists are individuals, they knowingly or unknowingly tend to choose styles that best reflect their interests and attitudes with a plethora of international styles coming at them from the Internet, magazines and their own journeys to Toronto, New York, etc. and abroad. So, many of the works may seem very familiar to regular gallery goers; a window into a local individual’s style and simultaneously into a more cosmopolitan scene.
     The show, states David K…. “is very inclusive. Of course everyone has something to say. And people, at the openings, even tourists, can’t believe the contemporary art coming out of Thunder Bay. I think the diversity, and different mediums, is of interest to people.”
      David also points out, “It’s professionally show where the artists get paid, and a deadline offers very good a stimulant for artist. Also it’s good for their resume and to help them obtain grants from councils.” Later David pointed out that all the works are for sale, but the gallery doesn’t act as a shop. “We put the interested party in touch with the artist and the artist gets one hundred percent of the sale.”    
     Both shows run till December 19. You can get details on the gallery at www.definitelysuperior.com. The gallery is located at 250 Park Ave, open Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm to 6pm.

Where's Our Discussion of Mediocrity?

     In Ghana there is a television show styled on American Idol where three very vocal judges either praise or tear a strip off dancers from different tribes. The tribal dancers are dancing for a grand prize. They are incredibly fit and good-looking.  The dancing is amazing. The heights they can reach, just jumping in one spot is insane. The dance couples are built like Olympic athletes.
     However, the performers better make sure the war paint on their faces is accurate. The same with the colour and design of their clothes. And if they are swinging a spear or knives or bow around they better have the right weapons and know the moves. Otherwise they will be called out. As happened a couple years ago when I was in Ghana.
     “I know this tribe!” yelled the heavy-set female judge, raising her finger into the air when two smiling dancers completed their amazing session and stood with gleaming smiles on their beautiful faces. The judge named the tribe and the region the tribe and said, “This is not their dance! They don’t wear paint like you! Those are not their colours! They don’t wear those clothes! You cannot claim to be from this tribe if you know nothing about who you are!”
     And then the judge said something truly amazing, “If we award people who pretend to be something they are not then eventually everything produced by our country will become mediocre. We do not want mediocrity!” she yelled, waving her finger in the air and shaking her head.
    I was stunned, not simply because it was a good and clear statement, but because I heard exactly the same argument the day before in a corner shop on the University of Accra’s campus when I bought a Pepsi. I stood in the shop listening a radio DJ and his guest arguing about how mediocrity was destroying Ghana. It was a great conversation.
     And then I heard the same arguments again days later on a radio while I was in a taxi. And again a similar discussion took place at the Ghana Culture Forum in the National Theatre of Ghana. Several tribes were represented, but one tribe had an entourage with a tribal king and his son present. The king held a solid gold staff. Their clothes were amazing. They were arguing that Ghana should be more like Nigeria in that Nigerian politicians are allowed to wear their traditional clothes to political meetings whereas the Ghanaians are not. They are required to wear western styled business suits.  This discussion of culture and how it could be whittled down to nothing, not reflecting anyone’s culture, appeared to be a common theme in Ghana.
     Except for the routine trouncing of popular culture in Canadian Art Magazine, I can’t recall seeing much of this argument about mediocrity in Canada. Maybe twenty years ago Rex Murphy was whining about something to do with mediocrity without doing the requisite research required to make anything he says worth listening to. Rex is an entertaining couch potato who gives his opinion using elevated language, but has nothing real to add to any discussion because he gets his news from the same sources the rest of us do; TV, radio and the newspapers. And he often makes the same kind of media commentary that any of us could make. And he’s backed by big oil, so anything he says is tainted right wing.
     There you go, Rex Murphy as an example of mediocrity.
    Instead of complaining of mediocrity I more often hear people say, “Talent is overrated, ” or “Anyone can be an artist.” People often say that more than talent, if a person has discipline, if they practice, patience and persistence then they can also achieve what a talented person can achieve.
     Sure. Maybe. Certainly everyone can learn to do the basics in most all art forms. And this can be a good thing. Art has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment, therapy, psychological probing and general well being. Even a mediocre writer, painter, poet, critic, singer, dancer, or whatever, has value.
     But when the talented person also has all those qualities listed above, what they produce in a generally  shorter period of time can be so great that we flounder for words when we see it. And that rarity, that discovery of someone who can melt our hearts when they sing is something we want to share. As everyone does at some point on Facebook. Some people do it daily. But they rarely share what is mediocre. You don’t get “likes” for mediocrity.
     Maybe as well as thinking of the arts as an all egalitarian pass to psychological well-being, making us practitioners feel good - a retirement activity - we think of the art world as a place where the rare and sublime can grow and benefit us all. If we go looking for those people who are talented and able and willing to think, practice, research and aim to really thrill us, both they and we will benefit.
    

Leslie Shaw: Paintings at Espresso Joya

     Over the years Leslie Shaw’s paintings have appeared in nearly every venue where art is typically shown in Thunder Bay. Leslie is particularly thrilled to have her work at Espresso Joya at 8 Cumberland St. in the North Core as her work is attracting a great deal of attention. “My show at Espresso Joya has got me more attention than anything else!” Leslie states with surprise. The show is on till the end of the month and it’s worth making the effort to check it out.
     What has people particularly transfixed is the startling way the paintings skirt between full on abstract while simultaneously maintaining an uncanny realism at the same time. As much as the paintings are abstracted from a four by six photograph, as the lines and shapes are all there, people are seeing what they want to see; a landscape, flower, or rock. But at the same time they find the images playing with their minds and their eyes.
     It’s a unique combination of techniques that grab most people immediately. Deceiving at first is that the paintings look to be achieved with a paint by numbers process, but the simplicity is hard fought and requires a good deal of time and experience.
     Leslie Shaw studied at the University of Saskatchewan in the 1960s and went on to take courses at what was once called the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. She was pregnant while taking courses in her second year and jokes that, in her thirties, she felt like the older student.
     Of the experience Leslie states, “I had my hand in everything. With some great teachers it was stretching my knowledge, pushing the edge a bit. It was a good two years and shortly after we moved to Thunder Bay and I studied part time at Lakehead University for eight years when I had children.”
    Later yet, when Leslie took courses again at LU in the 90s, one of the class exercises lead to her current style. “One of our exercises was to put two colours for a painting side by same of the same value in order to make the image vibrate.”
     This technique involved a lot of forethought and mixing of paint. Care and attention are taken to achieve a result that can’t be ascertained immediately. The result is that Leslie has to paint over sections again and again, adjusting the value to create kind of flatness and jostling of hues and values to meet her goals.
     The shapes too are something that requires work. “I really like messing with negative space and positive space, so that you’re not sure what’s in the background and what’s in the foreground. You see a line that represents a crack, but it might not first appear to be a crack, but a shape. The rock cuts are reduced down to the basics.”
      For most artists it would be difficult to resist the temptation to give the works depth by brightening and lightening the colours, or adding shadows or placing objects in front of one another to achieve depth, or to create a focal point for the subject matter. The result in Leslie’s approach offers you both a realistic representation of something with a subjective twist, where a visual dance occurs as your eyes try to ascertain what’s happening, trying to balance objects and see order. It’s a fun challenge and makes for beautiful pieces or work that are both traditional and modern at the same time, which is difficult to achieve.


Friday, 18 September 2015

Trump versus Harper: What their artistic interests say about them.

This article is not an endorsement of Donald Trump! No, if I was an American citizen I would not have voted for him! Sadly my attempt at humour below doesn't seem so funny now. At the time this article was written I had no idea that Trump wasn't paying the contractors and many others working for him. From other accounts it is likely that many of the artists he hired didn't get paid. 

     Donald Trump hired hundreds of artists to decorate his Trump towers, casinos, hotels, and massive golf course clubhouses. Some of the elaborately decorated interiors are tasteful and some of it as gaudy as the man himself. But he’s GREAT for his support of the arts. And BEST at the military, and building a wall to keep out Mexicans, apparently.
     One way that Trump has established himself is through the use of art. Unlike other Republican politicians, Trump has not only learned the “Art of the Deal” but how to use art and artists as a means of gaining favour within a community and obtain international attention. 
     Although the awe inspiring and often simultaneously gut-wrenching tackiness of a gold gilded bathroom makes a statement as ridiculous as he does himself during a Republican debate, people are involuntarily attracted to the garishly bold and beautiful. It can’t be helped. It’s the modern equivalent of Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles. Its authority trumps its tackiness with its size and historic significance. And so does the typically American bombastic statement of wealth that exudes from Trump. He and all he does represents his belief and confidence in American exeptionalism.  
     It pours out of his big mouth. He combs it through his ridiculous hair. He wears it with his suits, flies with it in helicopters and private jets and sports it with his trophy wives. He epitomizes the fantasy of the vain and power hungry. He would make a great dictator, but probably not the best president, unless of course he is the Manchurian Candidate, a secret Democrat planted into the Republican party to destroy it from within. It might be true. After all Trump did vote for Barak Obama and supported Hillary Clinton’s campaign the last time she ran.
     At first Steven Harper doesn’t appear to be a big supporter of the arts. He did gut the CBC. However, he can play the piano, and he sings and had a band for a while, so maybe he’s not all bad. But he made a blunder with a statement back in 2008 when he suggested that “ordinary people” saw support for the arts as only support for an elite who you might catch a glimpse of in televised galas. His statement may have lost him electoral majority in Quebec where ordinary Quebecers support the arts in a big way. The arts, after all, are what culturally identify Quebecers as distinct from the rest of us.
     Losing seats in Quebec may have made him hesitate in gutting the Canada Council of the Arts in the same way he gutted the CBC. There are those in the arts field who believe the CCA will get chopped if Harper wins in the next election.
     Surprisingly Harper does support the arts, but in a similar way that Trump does. However, instead of being overly bombastic and ridiculous like Trump, Harper is ideologically obsequious.
     Throughout history art has been used to persuade and convince masses of people of the power and authority of those who claim to be an emperor, or king or pope, or dictator. Trump uses persuasion and conviction very well by reproducing images of himself everywhere, by getting himself television shows, by stamping his name on everything he builds, and by running for president just for the excessive press. He’s a character and deliberately hams it up, which is why no one takes him seriously, except as a deliberate self-promoter and businessperson. As president he would probably be America’s biggest joke, after George Bush, depending on whether Trump takes the United States into another illegitimate war.
     Harper is like Trump in that Harper understands the symbolic significance and power of art, not as flagrant self-promotion, but in supporting a right wing agenda that is ideologically deliberate in its attempt to convince a larger population of its veracity.
     Harper is a big fan of distorting Canadian history for the purposes of false nationalism, first by ignoring certain facts and results of the War of 1812 in television commercials and related promotional material and then changing the mandate and name of the Museum of Civilization to the Canadian Museum of History. He then managed to deliberately become the spokesperson for the discovery of one of the ships used in the 1840s Franklin expedition. How did so many scientists and researchers vanish in the process?
     And to trump these examples, two of the most ridiculous, ugly, grotesque and controversial sculpture proposals ever made in Canada have come from the Harper government; the anti-Communist war memorial, Tribute to Liberty, to be placed near the parliament buildings in Ottawa, and the “Mother Canada” statue to stand in Cape Breton with her arms outstretched to the Atlantic ocean to welcome the ghosts of Canadian soldiers who died in World War One and Two.
     Not only are these sculptures a waste of money, they don’t make any sense. The themes make sense only if you think Canada was responsible for killing off communism and that we’re still waiting, seventy years later, for soldiers to return from Europe.
     If I had to vote based on a politician’s taste and intent I would gleefully vote for Trump over Harper any day, if I could. Trump’s taste is nonsense, less ideology and more Disney fantasy in order to make him even more rich and famous. It is a silly goal to be sure, but less harmful than Harper’s. Harper’s taste is frighteningly ideologically restrictive, the ideological equivalent of communism, not democracy, but religious blindness to one’s own beliefs.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

R. J. Ogemah

She wasn’t kidding! The guy can draw! And man, can he paint! Damn!
     Jealousy! I had to fight it off as I flipped through one of R.J. Ogemah’s many sketchbooks. R.J. is 24. Some of his sketchbooks and a few paintings are from his teenage years! Fortunately I was able to laugh at my own insecurity and left his place with an invigorated resolve to do better work. I have R.J. to thank for my next illustration, which turned out phenomenally better than my last few mediocre scratches. I have Louise Thomas to thank for the introduction.
     Although R. J. Ogemah’s subject matter is not for everyone, it’s pretty obvious from the few painted works and the many portrait and nude drawings that he can draw as any classical or popular artist would. With such versatility he is able to mimic one of his favourite comic book artists, the famous French fantasy artist Moebius, featured prominently in Heavy Metal magazine.
     Computer games, comics, and graphic novels played a big role in finding sources of inspiration so although R.J. enjoys realism he is drawn to more imaginative artists. When asked about his influences he begins, “There weren’t any creative people around me when I was growing up.”
     R.J. grew up in Long Lake # 58 First Nation, so it was the Internet that gave him access to classical art imagery and modern hard edge realism. “I was thirteen when I saw photo realism and I was interested in learning how to do that. I always had an interest in the old masters. It’s something I always wanted to learn since I was a little kid. I trained on my own, studying imagery on the Internet, taking it seriously when I was 18.”
     When asked if his Ojibway roots will play a role in his art he states, “I grew up pretty detached from my own culture. I never felt like I really belonged.” However, he says that at some point in the future he will. “I think it’s pretty important to explore that, learn about my heritage and history.”
     Right now he’s developing a body of work, exploring his options. He’s done work for a portfolio and developing a style, a style which has its roots in Italy, for a show he hopes to have in October next year at the Anishnaabe Gallery.
     Last week he flew to Montreal to begin a new adventure working for the fabulous company, Mosaika. Worth a look: www.mosaika.com. It’s likely R.J. will be sent to other cities to work on large scale mosaics, so he’ll get a great paid education in major creative endeavors.

     Kori Smyth, who grew up in Fort William, is the owner of Mosaika. She met with R. J. in Florence, Italy while R.J. studied the techniques of the old masters. Louise Thomas, a friend of Smyth’s, arranged the meeting. The Ontario Arts Council’s Career Access and Development Grant funded the trip. R. J. was in Florence from May to August this year, returning to Thunder Bay with a couple paintings from his classes and a new resolve to create work for a show.
     R.J. had studied realism at the Toronto Academy of Realist Art for 8 months. He wasn’t a fan. “I learnt stuff I pretty much already knew.” The school taught observational drawing where students copied exactly what they saw. R.J. was disappointed that they didn’t teach anatomy or perspective. “I was looking for a foundation, basic knowledge, but they offered a formula.”
    “There was a lot of drama in the school. And there were a lot of hobbyists. There was a group who was really talented and serious, but they went off and did their own thing.” He laughs, and describes how he left the program. “It was stupid. I just gave up after a while and did my own thing for a few years. I was afraid of going to Florence because I thought it was going to be like Toronto again.” 
     “It wasn’t until much later that I met Louise and she really supported me when I was growing up.” He showed his work at Louise’s gallery and sold a few pieces. And although he might get diverted in his career, he has plans to show new work at the Anishnaabe gallery next year.
     R.J. laughs when he describes himself as wanting to be something like a wizard. “I’m after more of a visceral action. I want people to see my work and say, ‘What the hell is that!? It’s a good aim, similar to creating awe. I want to capture the feeling I got when reading ghost stories. The first time I saw Hellraiser I felt this sense of wonder…. It’s definitely going to be horror related, but I want it to be more introspective, like traveling to different dimension…. I want to be like a merchant, to record my experiences as objects and sell them…. I have a belief that all meaning is imaginary and the more active your imagination is the more meaning there is in the world.”
     So, for next year he’s planning an exhibition of an imaginative series, beginning with a trilogy to explore his wonder and his morbid curiosity in human nature with extremely realistic and detailed work, in a style that he began working on in Italy. Stay tuned.



Friday, 21 August 2015

The Art of Pet Portraiture: Danielle Ambrosia

     Danielle Ambrosia is reticent about the details, admitting there was pressure for her to choose another career. As a single mother it may seem like bravery or foolishness to fashion a life as an artist, but when a phone call from a potential client interrupts our discussion it’s a sign of her success. She is in demand and has found her niche.
     Danielle is a full time pet portrait artist. She has taken other commissions; human portraits and historical portraits, but she adores animals so she has no trouble with the subject matter. She works primarily in graphite and coloured pencil crayons, achieving a great deal of depth with accuracy, detail, and great use of shade and highlights. This can be more time consuming, but more easily achieves accuracy more quickly than using a brush and the results are impressive to the eye. So although she is an adept handler of acrylics, oils, watercolours and gouache she prefers drawing. She can work form quality photographs that are provided by the client, but mostly she works from her own photos, so she is required to take good photographs from which to work.
     Born in Calgary and arriving in Thunder Bay when she was ten, she credits one of her biggest influence being her PACI High school teacher Robert Magnusson with pushing his students to do their best. “He never gave us a perfect mark, and I thank him for it.” And she credits her father, Jim Comuzzi, owner of Rooster’s Bistro, with his support as well. He provided her with a large and brightly lit studio space above Rooster’s in which to work.
     Inspiration for her approach came from traditional and modern hyperrealist artists known for their large-scale drawings and paintings. She says that one day she might branch out to produce this kind of gallery work, but she is aware that it’s harder to produce enough pieces for a good show and hard to sell bigger drawings as they are much more expensive. The risk is higher.
     Danielle is also aware that there is not a lot of prestige in the art world as a pet portrait artist. Showing in a gallery or receiving grants from the Ontario Arts Council for doing animal portraiture would be very difficult. Hers is a commercial venture and a labour of love where she is happy to make a living doing what she likes while simultaneously extending and celebrating people’s sentimental relationship with their animal friends.
     This is by no means an unworthy artistic venture, because the term ‘sentimental’ does not imply a lack of value. Traditionally, especially during the Romantic Movement, sentiment was a great humanist value implying that bonding, empathy, and being “one with nature” were worthwhile goals for art. Since more and more evidence surfaces to show that animals share more human traits than we realize, respecting our animal friends is only natural, especially when we often have so much trouble dealing with other humans. As there’s nothing like having a true friend, which pets can be, why not celebrate and honour them?
      Danielle is making a living doing just that. However, her love of animals has to meet with the practical world of selling herself and her abilities. She is adamant that artists have to learn how to market their work and sell themselves. She provided a number of specific pointers regarding social media but says most of it comes down to self-confidence and lots of practice. Her marketing skills vastly improved after she worked in a gallery in Santa Fe. After only three days she impressed herself by selling a giclee print by popular American artist, Malcolm Furlow for six thousand dollars, which is very impressive for what is essentially a poster. Danielle smiles and adds, “I like his work, but it never influenced my own. Selling the print influenced my sales and marketing approach.” Danielle now does commissions for people as far away as Newfoundland and Florida.
      “You have to be confident in what you’re selling so you have to know what your skillset is and be able to talk about it easily. And we’re blessed in the age of free social media where we can market ourselves, but you have to put the work in. Time, motivation and effort are especially important.” 

     You can see Danielle’s on her Website and on Facebook.  

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Martin King: Fun with Drawing

     Martin King's Comic Book is HERE. Sometimes a little epiphany will direct you to see something afresh and wonder why you didn’t see it before. During the last Busker’s festival at Bay and Algoma members of the Die-Active Art Collective put on a “Yart” Sale behind the Hoito. This combination of yard and art sale presented a talented young gang who were selling knitted wear, second hand books, paintings, sculptures, photography and second hand clothing, all in an unkempt grassy patch. Martin King sat amongst the gang at a tiny table hocking his original drawings.     
     The random placement on the table and low price made the quality of the drawings deceiving. At first they look like simple sketches similar to the works of many high school art students. However with a second look, one can see a deft hand playing not only with an accurately drawn representation, but also with a lightness and clever roughness that enhances the subject’s personality. The sketches are more similar to the best kind of works you might find in the New Yorker Magazine or literary magazines where serious and famous people are celebrated in caricature.
     Martin is aware that he has talent, but he shrugs off compliments with a smile and soft-spoken reply. He’ll downplay his passion to draw and paint as a fun hobby, a way to get pocket money, but he knows his ability to draw is driving his desire to make a graphic novel and a short film. He’s very practical about its value and application.
     Martin smiles, “I did it from an early age. I drew cartoons, games – Nintendo – I was a kid, so I drew kid-stuff. I realized I could make money from it when I was twelve. I did cartoon characters and portraits and sold them to the students. The teachers got mad at me for making money from other kids.” Martin laughs. “I got a hundred dollars one time. My parents were wondering where I got the money.”
     This took place at St. Elizabeth, a catholic school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although Martin was born and grew up in Thunder Bay, he got some early art education near a few central hotspots for art, namely New York City and Philadelphia when his parents move to the United States.
     His mother was a clerk at Shoprite and his father an engineer at the airport in Newark, New Jersey. He spent five years living in the U.S. from the age of eleven attending a junior school in Pittsburgh and later Central High School located at 100 and Central in New Jersey.
    Martin reminisces about how he graduated from a Catholic school to a high school whose mascot was the devil for all the sports teams. He later learned that there was a myth about an actual New Jersey Devil, similar to B.C.s Bigfoot.
     “Art classes were mandatory in high school,” he points out, adding that he could take animation instead of shop. The class took up half the school day, and was offered as a career choice.
     In New Jersey, his family lived in a bedroom community where the breadwinners made long drives or took train rides into New York City or Washington or Philadelphia to work. Primarily a wealthy neighborhood of Caucasians and Arabs, Martin could take trips into New York City to see the major galleries and museums. He also has a fondness for the beautiful Philadelphia Museum of Art, not only for the beauty and vastness of the collection or the sculpture of Rocky Balboa adorning the steps, but also because it was a great place to skateboard.
    He laments that he probably missed all sorts of sales opportunities with his sketches. He was living in an affluent community after all, but skateboarding took over during high school.
     When his family returned to Thunder Bay he studied broadcasting and did well in the film program at the college. He is currently looking forward to making his own films with ideas he’s sketching out presently. Stories are inspired by actual world events with an interest in ordinary people dealing with extraordinary situations, more dark and artistic than the usual comic book fair. Stories deal with gambling pool sharks, doctors involved in romantic triangles, oil barons and illusionists fighting it out over a fortune.
     Popular culture has had the biggest influence on his work, but he began a series based on photojournalism, transforming dark scenes of murder and war into light sketches, as if a means to better control the subject matter, to make the images less daunting and more humane. He was quickly turned away from the dark imagery when admirers began commissioning him to do portraits and asking for drawings of their favourite celebrities.
     In his choice of subject subtleties of humour are not immediately obvious. In the drawing of Megan Fox, she is clearly disturbed when a hopelessly romantic fan attempts to give her a bouquet of flowers. Martin took special interest in the fan’s funny shoes. But the emotions expressed in the faces are hilarious. That’s exactly what you can see in the best of the New Yorker cartoons.
     Martin also draws from images of cosplay, wrestlers, sports stars, awkward family photos, and random pictures. Regarding his Star Wars drawings, he laughs, “People gobbled that up right away.” And he’s been busy doing portrait commissions, as seen here with a friend wearing moose antlers.
     What he gets out of copying imagery is the ability to better approach reality, expressing more character with human interactions, and becoming more intensely creative when he does his own work. He enjoyed making a political statement in an image called “Consumer Horror.”
     He’s also focused on being practical. He’s not giving up his day job any time soon. He’s going to use the Internet to publish his stories first before he decides to go to print. For his short films he’s going to storyboard the ideas first to ensure that he can follow through on a project.
     You can see some of his work at Gallery 33, part of the Painted Turtle, and on Facebook if you ‘friend’ him.