Joseph Martinez – Artist Spotlight

Miniature art is something that has been around for a few centuries, but Denver based  artist, Joseph Martinez incorporates it into rather unusual media, such as your match boxes. But as an artist he goes further than exploring on small “canvas”, he takes to the more traditional white sheet of paper and occasionally to the abandoned wall or infrastructure in dire need of upgrade. What is fascinating is that Joseph keeps his extra meticulous approach with him. The results are outstanding. So we caught up with him and asked about his extraordinary sense of precision in his art.


Tell me a bit about yourself, how did your life in art begin?

I started art at a young age. I grew up in a household with 6 other siblings, I had to find a way to keep myself busy.

What is your favorite personal piece(s) of art? What does it mean to you?

To be honest they’re all very meaningful to me, I can’t really think which I like anymore than the other.


Can you describe your working process from idea to finished product?

I usually have tons of ideas come to mind, but I let them marinate until I have the urge to actually see it made. I kind of just jump right in straight to work, I don’t really do concept sketches, I paint in oil, acrylic, gouache so whichever I feel is the best medium to execute the piece then I go with that .

What are some key ideas for those determined to become an established artist?

I would assume it will be different for each individual. I personally stood back in the cut soaking up as much information as I could, educating myself on different movements, supplies and seeing what it was I was really interested in. I saw a lot of established artist had a “signature” style and I fought so hard trying to find mine, I eventually gave up on finding it and just made whatever I wanted and I continue to do that. My biggest fear was being pigeon holed into one thing because I’m evolving naturally and my thoughts and ideas change.


Can you point to three artists that inspired you and why?

Sam Flores has always inspired me,  he was the first artist that I saw and said to myself, I would like to do this for a living. I moved to San Francisco in 2006 and befriended him and while I was there he took me under his wing and I learned a lot of things from him, it allowed me to see what it took to be hardworking and driven. I really appreciate him for that and he remains a dear friend of mine to this day.

Rembrandt has me in awe when I see his work, I saw a piece of his in person for the first time at LACMA recently and was just as giddy as can be, I love his technique and craftsmanship, my favorite subject matter are people and I feel he captures them to a degree that is rather exciting.

Jean Michel Basquiat would be my third, I know it’s become very cliché but I just love that he made images that were socially interesting and still are. I admire his boldness of lines, the weight they carry are unique.

What does the future hold for you, what is next?

I have a group show with Thinkspace in London in September, a show in NY later in November and a show in Denver at SvperOrdinary  which I am really looking forward to.

How do you think your art impacts others?

I’m not really sure, I guess it’s hard to gauge with social media and all. I know people appreciate it and comment but I really haven’t had any deep talks about it with anyone. I’m perfectly happy to know that it puts a smile on someone’s face.



Do you follow any philanthropic causes? If so, how do you see them impacting our world?

I don’t follow any particular causes but I can say I have a deep love for humanity. I try my best to be loving and kind to anyone I encounter. I realize we all have our own things we are trying to figure out and the best thing is to support others as much as possible.

How did you develop your style? Has is changed much over the years?

I’m not too sure what my style is, I have always drawn and that is still where I am most comfortable with. I see myself being more open to whatever it is that I am trying to express, I would say that would be the change that has occurred.


Do your pieces have meaning behind them? Or do you pick a subject because it’s fun or looks cool?

Most of the time, I pick a subject that I think is cool, for the most part I make a piece and it seems the emotion I’m feeling during that time becomes the soundtrack to the piece. When it’s all said and done, I can see a glimpse of what it means to me and I leave room for it to have a completely different meaning to anyone else.

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