She loves modern design, her ideas emerge from what happens to her, and art is her response to her emotion and a positive way of dealing with negative thoughts. Meet Martina, a London-based creative, social media manager, illustrator, the founder of Yours Truly Studio as we talk to her about her inspirations, the therapeutic role of art, and her favourite London spots.
Her illustration style is modern and fresh. She’s keen on getting better in everything she does: the artist is investing lots of time in her creative projects and constantly seeking for inspiration in the works of other designers. Although many designers have caught her attention, her favourite is definitely Leon Karssen; she loves Sara Andreasson, Frances Cannon, Polly Nor, Kyle Platts and Martina Martian, too. She also lists the general aesthetic of PC music (Sophie, Hannah Diamond, GFOTY, Danny L. Harle, etc.) and Swiss school of typography as her influences.
“I don’t think my style is quite settled yet,” she explains. “When I first started, I used to just call it “flat design illustrations” and it might still be the best way to describe the style.”
Although she is interested in a variety of artistic disciplines – videography and film photography among them – Martina explains that illustrating is a way of dealing with her emotions and calming down.
“All my ideas come from whatever happens to me. I usually work when I’m upset with something, and even my most colourful and happy-looking works have a darker undertone,” she says. “That’s also the reason why my illustrations don’t take much time – emotions are fleeting, and I want to get as much inspiration from them as possible.”
Her moment of realisation came in May – she started focusing on her design work more, and treating it seriously. She describes the first illustrations that she’d done after that as a milestone project.
“Before that everything I used to do was kind of effortless and distracted. Once I realized how therapeutic and fun it could be, I got rid of my older pieces from my portfolio and started creating more and more,” she explains.
So how do her works come to be? She works best at nights, and like a true night owl, she finishes her pieces at the early hours, just before the dawn creeps into her workspace.
“I never work before midnight and I’m usually done by 3 or 4 AM,” the designer says, “I’m always listening to one song on repeat for hours – and my flatmates are being very patient with me; I’m chainsmoking and making a complete mess out of my surroundings, with bits of paper and drawing tools everywhere,” she sheds some light on her creative process.
A Londoner by choice, Martina moved to London a while back. What was a magnet that pulled her towards the capital? She doesn’t remember exactly at the moment; there were many reasons she could name.
“I used to believe I could provide a better life for myself in London, and really focus on what I want to do, which is social media management,” she recalls. “I was also annoyed at xenophobia and nationalism raging in my home country, and didn’t want to have anything to do with that. Unfortunately, xenophobia and nationalism are as present in the UK as anywhere else.”
London has continued to inspire her: there are a couple of places which she finds stimulating. Barbican and Tate Modern have become her favourites, but she also points to Hackney Wick and Bethnal Green as a source of ideas. Nevertheless, she doesn’t agree with the recent changes in the places that have always been a home for free-spirited, open-minded artists.
“I like Tower Hamlets more than I like Hackney now,” she admits, “probably because Hackney became too sterile and boring. The recent evictions in Hackney Wick are really tearing what’s left of the artistic community apart, and creatives are leaving. I’ve seen more “commercial” street art in the last couple of months than ever before,” she adds.
The newly found energy and focus on her passion are bearing fruit: a few interesting projects are lined up ahead of the designer. She has just started designing her clothing range, but that’s just a chunk of what she’s got on her plate at the moment.
“My first piece is due to arrive on Friday, so hopefully that’s going to go well!” she tells me. “I’m also planning to create stickers from my most popular works and start selling them together with the clothing line. Wish me luck!”