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  • Jeremy Martin

Making It: A Native Detroiter Makes His Mark in New York

By |2018-02-08T09:55:12-05:00February 7th, 2018|Entertainment, Features|

Jeremy Martin was nearly 5 years old when he received an art kit of paints, drawing pencils and brushes from a family friend. With his newfound creative tools, Martin began experimenting with coloration, he remembers, producing the kind of abstract pictures only a mother could hang. “I loved mixing the colors,” he says. Now at 29 years old and living in New York, Martin carries that same childhood sense of play and experimentation into various creative mediums, including painting, styling, sculpting, and more recently, jewelry making.
When the native Detroiter arrived to the Big Apple in 2013, he was one of an estimated hundreds of thousands of people who flock to the city each year to “make it.” But owing to his ability to hustle, honed in the Motor City’s creative art scene, it wasn’t long before he started to make a name for himself.
Martin was working as a fashion merchandiser in the American Apparel store in Tribeca when renowned stylist Patti Wilson called to offer him an internship.
“I was so excited and nervous the first day. We were on set at the studio of legendary fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier. I was starstruck,” Martin recalls. “All the heavy hitters are in New York, so I moved to New York to be on a bigger scale and propel my career.”
Martin, who holds a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising from Wayne State University, recently made a career shift to focus more on visual art after deciding styling wasn’t the right fit.
“It was really shallow superficial and draining,” says Martin, who is studying art therapy at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. “I would describe myself as an artist who uses many mediums to create,” he says, not wanting to be pigeonholed to a single discipline. “My main focus right now is getting my art displayed in galleries or at live art events.”
Last fall, Apple hosted an event in Martin’s honor at one of its New York locations that showcased the portraits he creates using the iPad’s SketchUp application. The event not only put Martin in the spotlight as an LGBT artist, it also shined a light on creative talents that were born and bred in Detroit.
“One of my first iPad paintings was of André Leon Talley, the former Vogue editor-at-large,” Martin says. Talley called the painting ”powerful, nobel, and full of serious dignity.” A month later, he received an email from supermodel Iman asking to have a painting commissioned for her 60th birthday.
“I was over the moon excited to hear from Iman!” he says. This led to an opportunity for Martin to meet photographer Terry Richardson and gift him a 26×30 iPad portrait.
“He was so excited and I have video of pictures of our meeting. He covered this face with the painting and danced around. It was epic,” says Martin. “A lot of the times celebrities have commented and admired my work but did not purchase it. You know what they say about celebrities wanting things for free…”
Martin realized he wanted to be a serious artist in high school. “Around age 15,” he says. He attended Berkley High School in Berkley, Michigan, where he says he was surrounded by artistic types. “My teachers had tons of experience and taught me a lot about famous artist and techniques.”
When it comes to comparing Detroit and New York, Martin says there are obvious differences–especially when it comes to the gay community.
“New York gays are always on the look out for the next big opportunity and not afraid of networking to the top. Detroit gay scene is smaller and close-knit. People in Detroit all know one another.” In whatever city, Martin says it is important to take risks to get you where you want to go.
“What I found appealing about making art was the sense of accomplishment after each piece,” he says. “Having an idea and watching it manifest is really stimulating, frustrating, and rewarding all at once.” Some ideas work and some just don’t. Making it for Martin means being willing to repeat the process until you find something that does work.
See Jeremy Martin’s work at or on Instagram @jeremymartinofficial.

About the Author:

Emell Derra Adolphus is a writer from Detroit. Read more of his work at
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