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Life and Work with Helena Martin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Helena Martin.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Helena. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I actually have a bachelor’s and masters in science in Biology and Medical Illustration respectively. As a child, I dreamed of becoming an artist for a living. However, as I grew older, I became afraid of not being able to make good money as an adult. Upon high school graduation, I turned to a seemingly more stable career in the sciences. I found a well-paying job at a medical animation studio after graduate school. Even with this seemingly perfect job, I had a ton of anger about what I was doing with my life and the state of the world generally. All of this rage was channeled into graffiti. For the next two years, my rebelliousness bloomed. I “bombed” regularly, got arrested, climbed a highway sign and generally broke rules. The graffiti honed my skills with spray paint. In 2015, I quit my job and moved to Texas, hoping to transition to the life of a full-time artist. Initially, I freelanced as an animator while painting on the side. This was a scary time for me as I was accustomed to a steady paycheck. Things got even more terrifying as I transitioned into painting for a living, which was significantly less lucrative than animation. Slowly and deliberately, I shifted my focus onto painting, and over time my animation work waned and the mural work naturally ramped up! My anger lessened and I no longer had the desire to do graffiti. I quit using drugs and alcohol. My whole life had changed in a positive direction. I’m very grateful and have a lot more personal progression ahead of me. 🙂

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
In my opinion, street art/mural art is largely a boys club. Outdated as it seems, some people will think a woman can’t smash a big wall as well as a man.

I’ve been one of those people.

I’ve often doubted myself and my abilities as a female artist. My only advice would be to trust yourself as much as possible. Take risks and make mistakes. And lastly, don’t listen too much to other people’s advice.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
My mission is to use public art to encourage a feeling of reverence for nature, pay tribute to admirable historical figures and shine light on certain social issues by evoking an emotional response in the viewer. Public art is a great vehicle, as it reaches far more people than fine artwork in a gallery environment.

My work is largely inspired by the glory of nature. The ecological destruction of our planet has touched me on a personal level. It hurts to see nature destroyed. I hope the flora and fauna imagery I create is good enough to convince any amount of people to be more environmentally sensitive.

Paying tribute to those who have used their lives for the moral advancement of the human race is important to me. Luckily, have a knack for portraiture. Alvin Ailey, Gandhi and Frida Kahlo are some of my past subjects.

The underrepresented issues I am most passionate right now are about are human/sex trafficking and suicide prevention. I’m currently looking for funding for a mural about either subject.

Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
I feel that all of our lives are largely ‘set up’ by the experiences we have in our formative years (0-7).

Growing up as the youngest child in a large family, I was constantly vying for attention. When I discovered I had a gift for visual art, I used it as a means to get validation from my parents and others. This translated to success in my adult years as my desire to create to receive praise fueled a lot of hard work and dedication to my craft.

As I’ve developed, I have made a conscious effort to work through this need for outside validation, as it does not lead to true happiness. Basically, I want to get a place where I’m just happy to paint, independent of other’s responses to my work.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Image credits to Helena Martin except for Hallie Rae Ward (tropic of animals), Lydia Emily (large crane on blue sky) and Longhorn by a nice employee at Lick Ice Creams

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