Patrick Martinez has been steady walking the path of street life in LA and producing gallery based works that reflect that. I caught up with him briefly to have a chat about all things rap, street violence and shiny lights
This is how it went down at Carbon Festival 2014
MD- So you live in LA what’s that like and how does it affected your work?
PM- All my inspiration in terms of my artwork is taken from my surroundings and the people in the landscape. Its everything like all the little in-between nooks and cranny’s. All the places you don’t really hear about inspires the work. It could be objects, people, places and the physical landscape I mean its great i love living there. I love travelling but i always look forward to going home and hanging out with friends and family.
MD- So you have a history with graffiti and hip hop. Is that something that you value and think is important within your artistic career?
PM- Yeah the graffiti and rap and hip hop that kinda subculture is, its kind of embedded you know. Its just something i find in my tool box and i use it sometimes because it familiar and its part of me so i take it out and i use it as ammo for some of the work. I can speak honestly with it because its always been around and i know the culture, I follow it still and i do listen to other music i do obviously look at other art but its still kinda resonates and its creeps out often in my work.
I don’t physically do graffiti anymore but i went through that in my early teens and it was kind of where i started. I picked up a spray can before a paint brush, that was kinda strange to me now looking back. Those are some deep roots so i cant deny that and i cant deny the soundtrack to my upbringing with rap music and understanding the hip hop culture and the subcultures and shit.
MD- Yeah in Australia we are so far detached from the world that those cultures were such an external inspiration for us. Its something that if you grew up here you had to really hunt for it if you were into it, was it something that you were always into from the start?
PM- You know its just what everyone was listening too, My brother would be bumping it in his car like spice one, too short and that gangster rap shit and from then i was like submerged. All the kids in my neighbourhood were listening to that you know what i mean. Those guys were older and already driving and so they would pick me up from school and i would be always surrounded by it. Then i got into graffiti and i started getting into other sub genres of rap and that underground shit like freestyle fellowship from Los angeles. I was just trying to get a good range of rap music, it was always around so it made more sense when i started applying it to the graffiti, then i figured about shit like wild style, style wars and it kinda just clicked but it was a different version on the west coast.
MD- We got that a little bit later, so when we saw it the music was kinda about but the visual side came after it.
PM- Yeah the visuals were different, on the west coast it wasn’t like people were burning on trains and shit they were doing freeways and walls and yards and you know there was a mixture of gang graffiti and like gang culture. A lot of my friends started with graffiti, i started going to yards with them and doing buses and writing and then they became gang members and then ended up in prison and what ever. I continued on and now some of them are also gallery artists so its a different dynamic i guess.
MD- A lot of your phrases and images are related to LA street life, whats the craziest thing you have witnessed on the streets of LA?
PM- I used to live in Lincoln heights, its the east side of Los Angeles and i had a loft studio and it was off a main street. At like 230 am on a saturday i heard gun shots further back, looked outside and i saw somebody shooting at some else. I don’t know if he shot him but he unloaded the whole clip on somebody or something. I just ducked because i though he was going to start shooting up at my studio but the never did and it was a crazy night. i was so tripped out i couldn’t sleep. wasn’t a good thing.
MD- Alright on a lighter note, where did the use of neon light start as an outlet, why do you think its important?
PM- I’m not trying to use it as an aesthetic to grab people attention, I use it more as a concept of like being inspired by Los Angeles as a whole, and the objects in its city. The signs already exist in the east side of Los Angeles. Divorces, Income Tax, Open, Closed those types of neon’s that already exist, I took that format and i’m remixing it to where i’m connecting with people with messages and phrases in that format. thats where the concept kinda originated from, you know the weird thing about Los Angeles is that in the day time its so congested and the afternoon there is so much traffic and the night time is so dead and desolate you can get anywhere in like 15 minutes. So night times real still and those are when the neons start shinning and that was the inspiration, driving around and seeing them. they are almost like dialogue like someone trying to speak, so i took that and remixed it and i been doing it since 2008 just putting out different phrases and trying to connect with people.
MD- yeah run me through that, how do you come up with the phrasing that your going to use?
PM- The first one was “selling out is the new keeping it real” and that was like just something i said and it just kinda came from the gut. If you were in the 70’s or 80’s and you had a collaboration with nike you would be a sell out but now its like “oh thats the shit, oh your doing a collaboration with somebody thats dope”. Especially a corporate brand its not looked down on as a bad thing now its a positive thing. A lot of my artist friends are doing that and i never judged it. I just said thats just where we are at. These brands and the people that are working for them are understanding what the arts about and just kinda wanting to work with different artists in certain situations.
Its was just a phrase i kept on saying so i decided to put it neon, just direct. That’s how it is, its just something when me and my friends are talking shit and you find that there is something with guts to it and your like fuck that hits the chest and rips your guts out or it makes you think a little bit. you gotta investigate it. so i put it together, let it sit for a couple weeks and if it keeps resonating with me i will use it and put it out.
MD-Your paintings are detailed and well executed. How do you feel about creating your neon work compared to your paintings?
PM- I work with a lady in Los Angeles and we kind of create it together, i design it and if theres a painting involved i have to sit with her and kind of run through it and help her with the process and bends and stuff like that.
Its kind of like a two part process i have my studio and she has her place of business and i’m always back and forth. I’m there sitting with her doing the design and drawing it out and making sure its right because were they are coming from is like there just hammering out neon signs for businesses, there not use to anything different even though i’ve been working with them for years.
The reason i started doing it is i wanted it raw and direct. I want that neon to be just popping onto my artwork, its not about finessing it so much or making it look likes its finessed it needs to be more direct like you just ripped it out of the f#ckin front window of a shop and you just f#cking threw it on top. its not about “oh that looks great and that looks beautiful” its like damn what the fuck is that? is that an advertisement or is that a sign or something. they work really well with me and they are were i want to be in terms of the aesthetic of the pieces im turning out.
MD- so we are called the opening hours and we ask this to everyone, what is your favourite hour of the day?
PM- I would have to say right now its the night time like i like to go out when its about to hit sunset. ill go for a hike and kind of hang out and watch the sun go down until the night. Go home shower up and and attack the night. go to the studio or go out with friends.