Chas Martin is an artist who, after a successful career as an art director and creative director, embarked on a journey to explore his deeper creative voice.
This journey has led him to produce creations that are often archetypal metaphors, depicting a wide range of situations and characters using various materials.
Chas Martin brings his ideas to life by employing a variety of techniques and mediums.
He begins by exploring his images from different perspectives, starting with sketches and wireframes. As he progresses, he moves on to creating clay models and capturing photographs that represent various stages of his artistic process.
Through manipulation and experimentation with these photographs, along with the use of watercolor, acrylic, collage, and sculpture, Chas achieves a transformative interaction on multiple levels.
This meticulous process ultimately results in the materialization of his visualizations into tangible and expressive forms.
Artwork Archive had the chance to chat with Chas Martin about his creative process, the power of visualization, and how Artwork Archive makes his career more manageable!
You can see more of his work on Discovery and learn more about his art practice below.
Chas Martin, 'Breakthrough', 15.5 x 21.5 x 9 in
Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression?
Yes, my work has changed many times over my career.
My early oil paintings were explorations of surrealism. I shifted from oil to acrylic to watercolor and became a traditional landscape painter. Those early attempts to introduce figures and spirit animals into landscapes were awkward.
A trip to Arizona triggered a few sketches of petroglyphs which quickly converted into sculptures. That was seven or eight years ago. I then expanded into masks in the same style.
My original plan was to study psychology or anthropology.
Throughout my art career, my fascination with the mind, culture, and consciousness has been the connecting thread.
My work has changed. Hopefully, my insights have matured. But my core perspective has remained somewhat consistent.
My work has been like a filter for interpreting the world and keeping my life in perspective.
How did your background as an art director inform your approach to creating your own body of work?
My major in art school was Visual Communication. My role as an art director was to create visual statements that informed and motivated people. The goal was always to conceive something unique and then find illustrators, photographers, videographers, and fabricators who could execute it.
As a creative director, my role was to motivate my teams to take their great ideas and stretch them even further.
When I turned to fine art full-time, I had to be my own creative director and motivator.
Without the restraints of clients, my inquisitive nature is free to explore whatever intrigues me. I continually ask: What if? What else? Why not?
What are my goals now? Never imitate. Never repeat. Never call a piece finished until it is significantly better than the last one by some measure. It isn’t finished until it communicates something intriguing.
Your work is concept-driven and you mention visualization as the first step toward realization. How do you navigate the balance between visualization and realization?
My current work is character-based. The relationship is similar to an actor and director. My sketches are character studies. Sometimes I begin with a clear concept I want that character to communicate. Other times, I simply explore the character until its voice emerges. Either way, this dialogue informs the nuances of its gesture.
Visualization and realization are the yin/yang of art. Visualization gets the idea out of your head and into a 2-dimensional form you can manipulate. Through each subsequent sketch, that idea evolves and matures.
It’s early-stage problem-solving. I'm exploring the potential impact of the gesture, imagining how I will build the sculpture. When the sketches reveal some unique quality, the realization process begins. Making the idea real is another level of that problem-solving.
Having visualized so many possibilities, the construction can be more spontaneous. Things don’t always work out as planned. But if my response is spontaneous, that energy is apparent in the final piece.
So, visualization and realization are a continuum of thought into action—concept into execution.
Chas Martin, 'Current Event', 18 x 16 x 16 in
Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your creative process? If yes, tell us more about it!
If you’re not creating problems to solve, you’re not being very creative. That is the essence of my process.
Problems push your boundaries and demand new solutions. Whether that journey is trial and error, experimenting with new materials, or combining disparate techniques, the result is reciprocal.
As you shape the work, the work shapes you. It should always be toward something different and better.
Since you explore your work through multiple mediums, how do you decide which materials to use for a particular piece of artwork?
I avoid ruts by switching media.
My exploration of masks began when I created a sculpture with a face that was different than any I had done before. The face was about 4” tall. I thought recreating it at 24” would be interesting.
Of course, the final mask differed from the original, but that was part of the exploration. Moving from sculpture to mask or from 3-dimension to 2-dimension expands my understanding of a concept.
Explorations lead to more robust interpretations of a concept or trigger related concepts. Managing the mix of media is another form of creating problems to solve.
Chas Martin, 'Unknown', 8 x 8 x 0.75 in, Chas Martin, 'Truth Be Told', 39 x 39 x 9.5 in
What does success as an artist mean to you?
It’s a balancing act. I want to create works that follow my curiosity about who we are as individuals and our relationships with each other.
I want to present those ideas in a unique, distinguishable style.
Success is connecting with the audience that resonates with what I do. That’s what pays the studio rent, materials, and me! With a marketing background, that should be easy. I enjoy creating more than marketing.
Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory your artwork and manage your art career?
Artwork Archive was recommended by several artists whose opinions I respect. My system of storing photos and details was a mess.
Prior to Artwork Archive, I would downsize an image to enter a Call For Entry, then overwrite the high-res file with a low-res version. Managing images on my website was time-consuming and inconsistent.
Inside the artist's studio. Photo courtesy of the artist
How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?
The Collections feature of Artwork Archive is awesome. I connect them to specific pages of my website. Any changes are updated immediately on all pages where that image appears. Being able to share multiple images and videos of sculptures is essential.
I not only present myself to galleries as more organized, I actually am. Inventory Reports, Private Rooms for specific collectors, keeping track of notes, and locations—I never had these capabilities before. It's obvious the brains behind Artwork Archive understand the needs and abilities of artists.
What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?
Work big! For years, I was encouraged to work larger. I had a dozen reasons not to. I recently started creating masks in the 4-5’ tall range. I’m also working on a life-size character. The impact on viewers is profound. The reaction of collectors is also on a different scale.
My advice: Be flexible with your offerings. Stretch your boundaries. Be inventive with your marketing. Be consistent in communication with your followers.
Chas Martin uses Artwork Archive to inventory his artwork, present himself professionally, and make sure his art career is running smoothly.
You can make an online portfolio, catalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reports, tear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business.