My earliest memory of drawing was loving to draw people and dinosaurs.
I had a natural interest in the way people looked, and Dinosaurs are just cool; all kids like dinosaurs.
And then of course came Jaws...I loved Jaws because well… what kid doesn't like to draw bloodthirsty man eating sharks?
-Did you grow up in a creative environment that inspired you to want to pursue art?
Yes. I feel very fortunate to have had both of my parents in the field of art. My Mom was/is an art teacher, and my Dad was a freelance Illustrator. Like most kids in my generation, my parents were divorced. It was tough at times, but the one thing both parents provided was encouragement for making art. Seemed like my Mom always had some sort of new project to teach me. Often I would do the samples for her High school students to study. I’m not sure how many of those kids knew they were following the example of a 10 year old. True Story! :) As I had mentioned, my dad was a freelance illustrator, but he also worked for Disney. It gave me a good taste of what it was like to be a working artist. Hell, I didn’t just get a taste, I lived it. I learned a great deal from simply watching. I tried to emulate the art my Dad did, while coming up with my own styles. It was not long before I was working as an assistant to my Dad, sometimes almost completely doing projects myself.
My parents had very different tastes in...Well everything really, but especially in art. But that worked out well for me because it introduced me to a wide variety of art, music, and of course drama...oh the drama:)
-Who is your favorite artist? Why?
I used to have favorite artists when I was younger.
Jack Davis, Vincent Van Gogh, Mort Drucker, Picasso, Sergio Aragonez, Drew Sruzan, Edgar Degas, Leonard, and all the populars.
But, now days, I can’t really say I have a favorite.
There are just so many different forms of art that I really dig. The thing I love most about art is the variety. Literally millions of artists in this world are making music, paintings, sculpting, writing books, acting, and just creating in general. How can anyone pick just one favorite?
I dig it all.
-Who/What inspires you the most?
Life inspires me.
People, music, nature, earth, wind, water, fire, and earth wind and fireJ
It may sound weird, but I really do get inspired by life, and figuring out how it works. As chaotic and brutal life can be it seems everything fits right into place. It’s a natural balance that fascinates me.
I love challenging philosophies, especially ones that challenge the status quo.
Human nature is the theme of most of my work. What makes people tick?
I mean the whole human mystery is a never ending pool for inspiration and the unexpected.
Love, Loss, failure, friendship, passion, tragedy, laughter… I mean all of this IS art to me.
-When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Never, I never had a moment where I thought, “ I want to be an artist”.
I was more or less born into art.
Sort of like the farmers son, who usually ends up becoming a farmer.
Oddly enough I do remember times when I wanted to give up making art. But, that was during those “finding yourself” years. You know? That age when EVERYTHING annoys you, and “nobody understands you”. We’ve all been there, I recall listening to the Doors for hours and rejecting everything I had ever learned. But I came to realize that it was simply misplaced frustration due to the challenges of post puberty syndrome... Or I was frustrated by trying to figure out girls.
The only other thing I ever wanted to be was a professional basketball player. I can honestly say that it’s the only thing I ever really WANTED to be. As I had said before I was born into art. So it was never a matter of wanting to be an artist, I just was. Basketball represented a challenge for me, and I just loved the sport. Being a pro basketball player was something that would take a ton of hard work and dedication. Art takes the same thing, but in contrast art is a life long process, while being a pro athlete is something you can only do when you are young. I kicked butt in High School, but when I got to College, I had to play against guys who were 7 feet tall and huge. Reality kind of set in for me, and I knew my SERIOUS basketball days were coming to an end.
I played 1 year in collage before I retired my NBA dreams.
I am really proud of the way I “retired” because I had always said I wanted to at least play (College) basketball until it wasn’t fun anymore. And that’s what I did.
After I hung up my sneakers, I decided to start the next chapter in my life, pick my paintbrushes and study art.
I went to art school for a few reasons.
The first was I really wanted to get a degree.
I had already gone to a University to play basketball. My time at Cal Lutheran University was REALLY hard. I had a really tough time reaching the demands of my teachers and school traditions. They don’t mess around there, and I just barely squeaked through my classes. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great education, and I’m really glad that I racked up a lot of prerequisites during my stay at CLU. But, I just could not fathom being stressed out for another 2-3 years trying to get my degree. So I packed it up and went home to Ventura.
Not sure what I wanted to do, I enrolled in a bunch of art classes at the Local Junior College, It was there that I had met a really great teacher by the name of Richard Peterson. Man, that SOB challenged me at every turn and would never let me get lazy with my work. I ended up learning so much from him, and it really helped me find a direction. After 2 years at Ventura Junior College, and still wanting to finish my BA, I felt like I should give art school a try. It was somewhat of an experiment.
The second reason I went to art school was it was in Kansas City MO. I had never been to Kansas City, I had barely been out of California, and it was a half way across the country. PERFECT!
I really needed to get away from my comfortable surroundings, and Kansas City fit the bill. Boy was it different than anything I was used to.
The last reason quite honestly was because of a woman. Yes, I know, I know…but…I was in young love and I just couldn’t imagine not going to the same school together.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think it was a mistake. I followed my heart and I’ll never feel bad about that. It was what it was, and it really it shaped the rest of my life.
Do I recommend art school? Hmmm. how do I answer this? This is where I usually get myself into trouble.
Yes, and no.
First off, you don’t go to art school to become an artist. If you’re going to art school, and your willing to put down that kind of money (and oh boy is it expensive) then you are probably already an artist. In theory, art school helps you HONE your artistic skills and helps you develop your creative mind. I guess to some degree that statement is true, but the main argument against that is, you can learn the same things by hanging around artists and picking up a book or two. Which is also a true statement in my experience.
Having gone to both a University and an art school, I have a unique perspective on the two very different experiences. There are pros and cons to both, and I really think it depends on the type of person you are.
Art School is art…all the time. As an artist, you would think it would be the perfect place for me. But it really wasn’t. I love art and artists, but talking about art all the time got really old really fast.
The university system worked better for me because you have this big school with students studying all kinds of different things. I liked the variety of conversation I had with people, and all the different things I learned from them. It was really inspiring for creative ideas.
Art school on the other hand was really good for focusing…I guess. I didn’t really take advantage of that, but there are a lot of opportunities to make your own space and sanctuary. Most art school students are pretty open minded, which was my favorite part. Lot’s of cheap beer, lot’s of pot, and lot’s nakedness, which is cool if you can handle hairy armpits.
So it wasn’t all bad. J
Really though, I think art school is good for some and not for others. It depends on who you are.
The best advice I can give any prospective art school student is, don’t go to art school JUST because you’re an artist. Go the rout that will most challenge you in life. A challenge will serve your artistic ambitions best.
To start with I was born in 1974, so when I saw Star Wars when I was 3. The honest truth is I don’t remember a whole lot about the movie. I’m sure I saw it a few times because by the time Empire Strikes Back was coming out I couldn’t wait. After Star Wars came out I drew Star Wars and nothing else. I had all the posters, books, toys, clothes and I drew from what ever I could get my hands on. I mean I was passionate about it. At that age, I wasn’t thinking about what kind of artist I wanted to be or who I wanted to work for I just loved drawing.
Now, Flash forward 20 years later, I’m going to Art School in Kansas City, and just kind of doing my thing. I was utterly lost looking for a direction in my art and any kind of career. I started the Semester in the painting department. I thought that’s what I wanted to do, but damn it… I hated the attitudes of a majority of the paintings students. Cocky, Snotty, arrogant, and completely full of their own Bullshit (Oh BTW, Art school is full of this). I did the gallery thing, looking for hope by meeting professional painters, but I found the same attitude that many students had at school. I’m not saying everyone who is a painter is a snob and full of shit. In fact I know many great people who are painters, but they would tell the same thing I’m saying, there is a lot of BS in the Painting circle. Anyway, I had had my fill, and I was getting really lost with what it was I wanted to do. I needed a spark, I needed inspiration, I needed to go to the movies, better yeti needed to see the IMAX showing of “Special Effects”. In this great documentary they boasted some exclusive “re-touched” Scenes from the Original Star Wars film. Sure enough they did and the scenes were for the soon to be released Star Wars Special Edition. Seeing Star Wars on the big screen took me back to that time when I was kid, and I drew just because it was fun and exciting. It was the spark I needed. As soon as I got home I began drawing Star Wars. I began drawing a Star Wars mural all over my studio at school. I was possessed! Before I it I was drawing Star Wars on just about everything I owned. Star Wars gave me back my love for making art, and it was at that time that I knew, in some way or form I wanted to make Star Wars art. So I worked at it, studied up, and let my passion be my guide. Eventually in 1999 fate would intervene and I would get my first crack at making official Star Wars art for Star Wars Kids Magazine. And the Rest is history.
Ah Music. Yes, I love music. Playing my guitar and singing is one of my favorite things to do, and it compliments my illustration career like chocolate and Peanut butter.
I’ve always been around music in some form. My earliest memories were of my dad playing folk songs around the campfire. There was always music playing in the house, and definitely the car. The Beatles were a staple in our home, but there was always a variety of music playing from show tunes, folk music and classical, to pop and disco.
I never even thought of picking up a guitar until I was about 20 years old. I had just decided to quit College basketball, and I found myself with a ton of time, and a completely wide open blank canvas for my future.
Almost as quickly as I thought, “what do I do now” I knew I had to pick up a guitar. I got my first guitar on my 20th birthday and boy did I suck, but I loved the vibrations the music made through out my body. I practice for a good 4-5 years before I tried to write my own songs. I wasn’t the best guitar player, but when I started writing songs it just came pouring out of me. One of my best friends Alex Alderette, also a classmate, teamed up with me to write a good dozen songs together. I don’t mind saying we wrote some really good songs, and I loved playing them with Alex in College.
I got my first bass guitar while I was at art School. I started hearing other instruments in Alex and my songs, so I picked up the bass and started dropping bass lines on our stuff. It was a different experience that I really liked.
I played in a couple of small bands that never went anywhere, so I had pretty much made playing music a hobby for the next 4-5 years. That all changed when I met my girl Denise Vasquez.
One night, early in our relationship, I started picking at my guitar while we were just hanging’ out. She asked me to play something, so I did. She liked it and said play me another, and then another, and then another. She asked why I was not playing out? , To which I answered…” I don’t know” (man of few words). Two days later Denise booked me my first gig. Denise kept booking me gigs, and quickly got me hooked on being on stage. Then one day, she had a big gig, and with 3 days to go, her usual bass player flaked out. I told her that I had played bass in College…three days later I was playing bass on stage at Genghis Cohen in Hollywood with Denise. For the next two and a half years Denise and I have played gigs together from Hollywood to London England. I love it, and I can’t imagine not making music.
Music and Art go hand and hand, and I couldn’t do one with out doing the other.
So the answer to your question is I love it all.
I couldn’t. I would have to be that kid who constantly chooses two things instead of one.
Hey, I am capable of short answers ;0)
-You recently released your first “HOW TO DRAW MONSTERS & ALIENS CREATURES FEATURE” Book with IMPACT BOOKS...
CONGRATULATIONS! That is a huge accomplishment! Tell us how the experience was for you authoring & illustrating your first book...
Making Creature Features was probably the greatest Challenge in my career thus far. The principle reason being…I had no idea what I was doing.
I had some ideas, but I knew nothing of how to put together a book, much less author it. It was a learning process from beginning to end, to even now. Promoting the book is a challenge.
There were two very difficult tasks for this book that stand out in my mind.
First was the authoring.
In College I took a creative writing class, and barely got by with a D (hey, D stands for diploma!). An accomplished writer I was not. So to say I was intimidated by this project was an under statement. I was supposed to do most of the writing first, but ended up doing the whole thing backwards. I just don’t think that way. I’m a draw first; write about it afterwards kind of guy. Instead of fighting it, I just went with my feelings. The best advice I got (and I seeked a lot of advice) was just to write as you would write to a friend. Just be yourself. I took that advice, and it worked. The publishers came back to me with high marks concerning my writing. My lack of writing training actually became my strength. It’s one of the things I am most proud of in this book. It feels like I am actually right there teaching.
The next big task was the amount of art I had to create for the book. While the actual drawing part was natural for me, I had never really done that big a volume of work for one project. I had a real tough time pacing myself in order to stay on schedule with the deadlines. They say life will show you what you are capable of even when you don’t think you can do it.
Well, that was the case with me. I learned a lot about myself working on this project.
Yes, Last year I finalized a deal to create 10 book covers for the new Star Wars book series “Star Wars: Rebel Force”. It was really exciting for me because it’s something I had worked really hard for; to be in a position to be offered a job like this. I was already excited, but I got even more excited when I found out I would be working on Original Trilogy characters. Most jobs at that point were dealing with the Star Wars Prequels, so to draw the characters I grew up with was really special.
Working with Scholastic Books has been a dream situation. I have to give a lot of credit to the art director Rick DeMonico. Probably the best art director I have worked with. He allows me to have a great amount of input concerning the characters, their poses and composition.
One of the great challenges for these book covers is we want to have the characters in poses and outfits that are not overused in other Star Wars art. The hardest part of that task is there aren’t many different pictures to work from. Of those pictures, most have been over used over a span of 30 years. So I do a lot of barrowing from other pictures, movies, and sometimes use my own models. Rick knows I’m the star Wars expert between us, so he gives me a lot of room to come up with outfits that will fit into the Star Wars Universe.
We are just starting to work on Book 6. I can’t say anything about it, but it looks to be exciting!
-I’m amazed that you still manage to find time to do sketch cards...tell us about the sets you’ve completed recently?
So am I.J Sketch cards have been a great growing industry. It’s fun for collectors and is great for business. But it is very time consuming. A lot of people think because these cards are small, that it doesn’t take that long. But it’s quite the opposite. Because these cards are so small it takes even longer, at least for a big guy like meJ
I recently finished up X-men Archives for Rittenhouse Archives. I did 147 full color sketch cards of everything X-men.
I did 8 cards for the March of Dimes “Archie” sketch card set, that I think is out now. As well as 24 “Greatest American Hero” sketch cards for the same benefit.
The next set I am working on is Spiderman Archives, which has been a blast. I’m having so much fun.
-What’s in store for you next? Anything new happening in your world that you would like to announce?
Of course there are 5 more Star Wars Rebel Force books to be released. That is always an event when those come out.
I will have a brand new Giclee debuting at San Diego Comic Con 2009. It will feature our heroes from “Star Wars, A new Hope”.
But the biggest news I have is I will be doing a follow up book to “Creature Features” with Impact Books. Not only is it a follow up but I will be coauthoring the book with my girlfriend Denise Vasquez.
Denise came up with the concept for a book about sketch cards. I can’t say much more, but Impact loved the proposal and signed us on right away. You will hear much more about this book!
(Yes, that's me he's talking about)
-Any advice for new artists wanting to break in?
There isn’t much that I have not already said here in this article. I always like to tell aspiring artist to stay true to your passion. Remember making art is fun. The only time you are doing it wrong, is if your not having fun,
Never be satisfied with your art, but don’t ever get bogged down on any one piece. It’s the only way you improve.
-Do you have upcoming events where your fans can find you?
First up is San Diego Comic Con. I will have a table in artist’s alley (CC-06) where I will be selling my official products and doing sketches. Coolest part, I’ll be sitting right next to Denise Vasquez (my little lady)!
In September we are off to Dragon Con in Atlanta Georgia. I’ll have a table there with Denise, enjoying the festivities. I’ve always wanted to do Dragon con, so I’m really excited.
Then in October we will be going to Plano Texas for Star Wars Fan Days 3. This is a great show because it kind of marks the end of the summer con circuit. Star Wars Fans, artists, actors, and collectors, all in one place? Awesome.
-Anything else you would like to add...
Thank you to all the fans that have supported me. I look forward to seeing you this summer! Stay thirsty my friends!
For more information about Randy Martinez, you can visit his official website http://www.randymartinez.net