Interview: Mart

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On a sunny spring day, graffitimundo met up with the artist Mart. Surrounded by cans of spray paint and friends who had stopped by to watch, Mart chatted with us as he painted.

How did your career as an artist begin?

I used to paint my name everywhere at school, but I didn’t know what graffiti was. Then I met Dano, who was my older sister’s boyfriend. Dano introduced me to graffiti and taught me the techniques behind it. We started to go out painting together, and I was still really young, only 12 years old. It was an incredible adventure.

It was funny… at school you’d get back from the holidays and the teacher would ask the class what everyone had done during their vacation. The others would say things like “I went to…wherever…with my family”. And then when they asked me I would say, “I painted a train with a friend”. The teacher looked at me like I was a delinquent.

mart bike cceba

When you first started painting, did you ever think about developing it into something bigger?

No, never. I never studied painting so I really never imagined anything happening with it. But I kept on painting, and after a while I’d get asked to do a show somewhere, and I’d accept. Then others projects would come my way, and I’d accept them too.

Its the same story today – people email me with jobs without me ever having to look for them.  I’ve got a good website, besides I’ve just let things develop naturally.

Was there ever a moment when you stopped looking at painting as just a hobby and started to take it more seriously?

Things changed when I landed my first big job that paid really well, which was with Cartoon Network. There was a major shift at that point, not just because of the job though. I saw a lot of my friends end up in jail, and realized that instead of doing things that would put me there as well, I had the chance to do something that wasn’t going to bother anyone, plus I could make good money doing it.

I realized that I loved painting. I could make a living from it and it was good for me, so it seemed like a perfect combination.

mart blossom street art

How do you feel about the neighbourhood you’ve grown up in?

It’s my place, my home. We were always the kids in the street. Now I’ve found my own way of continuing to do what I’ve always liked. When I was little all of us started off in the streets, I’m still here doing the same thing, it’s great.

I’ve found a way to remain a child, and it’s fantastic.

Your murals vary between abstract and figurative pieces, why is that? How do you decide which is right for a mural?

I’m a person in constant flux and so the subjects of my paintings change as well. I can’t keep doing the same thing all the time, once I’ve done something I won’t do it again.

I draw a lot, in black and white with pen. In fact I never stop drawing, I sketch about 20 drawings a day. And then I’ll see a wall and remember a drawing, and think, “that drawing could work here, and the space deserves it.”

For me, the space itself is really important for the painting, as much as the painting is for the space.

Your characters always have really interesting clothing, they have a lot of style.

Some day I would love to have a clothing line, that’s a dream of mine. I’ve always liked fashion and to design a line of clothing would be amazing.

mart street art

What motivates you to paint?

When the sun’s out I’m inspired. That’s really important. Getting together with friends, putting on an event, that really motivates me. When I’m out painting and living these moments I always think about how I can maintain this life, and keep doing this forever.

Do you ever think about why you paint?

No, no. If I asked myself why I paint I’d have to stop. I don’t know why I paint. I don’t like what I draw, I never have. That sort of pushes me to continue painting.

The day that I like something that I’ve drawn is the day I will stop painting. It’s like a constant cycle. But what I do know is that painting keeps me sane, I have to continue painting in order to be well.

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mart street art