In this month's Rare Device BIPOC Artist Spotlight, we talk to La Tinta's Fernanda Martinez. When we started carrying Fernanda's art work at our plant store, and realized how beautifully they fit in with the look and feel of the store, we soon asked to house some of her original pieces on our gallery wall. Her abstract shapes that hint at nature paired with her bold and playful color choices made carrying her prints at Rare Device a no-brainer.
Like many of the artists we've talked to, Fernanda began on an entirely different career path when she moved from Mexico City to Berkeley. But much like working on some of her paintings, Fernanda learned that sometimes if you're unsatisfied with something, you just need to start over and change directions.
We love your work. Everything from the shapes that resemble things found in nature but left up for interpretation, to the color choices for each piece. How do you begin a piece and how many of those elements are already in mind before starting?
The process that I follow is different for every piece. I like to work on multiple pieces at the same time and create collections. The best ideas usually come from my sketchbook, which I regularly fill in with new themes and shapes and then translate them into pieces; however, a sense of improvisation and spontaneity leads the whole process. One thing that I love about working with acrylic is that I can control the process and make adjustments as I work, so if I’m not satisfied with it I’m able to start over or change direction.
You’ve done a lot of collaborations and your designs can be found on food packaging, yoga mats, and fabrics. Can you talk about your approach to collaboration and how your 2D art translates into a 3D world?
I think the success of these collaborations is based on the versatility of my style. My work is strongly influenced by patterns and textiles, hence it is easily adaptable to packaging, wearables and a wide range of products.
Collaborating with brands of all kinds has expanded the visibility of my artwork and allowed me to reach new audiences.
My creative inclination woke up as soon as I settled here, I started to paint and found an artistic outlet that fulfilled me in ways that I never experienced before; that’s how I created La Tinta.
You’ve been doing quite a bit of mural work! What’s the latest one you’re working on? Can you tell us the process behind designing a new mural?
I’ve been painting murals for 5 years and even though these are my favorite projects to work on, they require tremendous effort. The process starts with tons of planning, from the location to the idea, budget, resources, labor and finally the execution.
The latest project I’m working on is a mural installation at a new affordable housing development in Berkeley. This is the first time that I’m working off site painting on plywood panels that will be later installed in the staircase of the building.
From what I’ve read, it sounds like you started out in marketing. Can you tell us what your journey from marketing to creating La Tinta looked like? What made you decide to make the jump into being an artist full time? What role did your marketing background play when creating La Tinta?
I studied communications when I lived in Mexico where I worked a corporate job in marketing and sales.
After a couple of years in this role I moved to California to study a business degree at Berkeley. My intention was to pursue a similar career here but the lack of opportunities led me to choose a creative path. My creative inclination woke up as soon as I settled here, I started to paint and found an artistic outlet that fulfilled me in ways that I never experienced before; that’s how I created La Tinta.
I followed the same route of brands that I was familiarized with and founded La Tinta to produce my own product collections.
How has creating artwork under a brand name helped and hurt you as an artist?
When I created La Tinta I wanted to be identified as a latin business and preserve my Mexican heritage under this name; it was easier for people to remember my brand and relate my illustration and products to it.
As my business evolved I realized that it was necessary to separate La Tinta from my fine art practice and give a human identity to my art. I will keep doing business as La Tinta, however, my original art is signed under my own name.
Can you tell us a little bit about how growing up in Mexico has influenced your artwork? Also, how has living in Oakland/the Bay Area influenced your artwork?
I’m originally from Mexico city, where I grew up surrounded by colorful streets and magnificent architecture. My heritage has certainly shaped my art style in many ways; for instance, my work is strongly influenced by patterns and textiles. Many memories of my childhood have art as a common factor, whether visiting museums or painting ceramics and stained glass.
When I moved to the Bay Area, I painted elements and themes from past memories. My previous work was heavily detailed and saturated; maybe as a way to recreate my hometown. Today, I’m certain that this new environment has shaped my vision and helped me to construct a style that ties both my heritage and my new home.
What are some words of wisdom you would share with future artists looking to make a life of creating art?
This hasn’t been a smooth road, like many other artists, my work has been rejected countless times, so my most important advice to artists that want to make a life of their art is to not give up on your dream. Persistence is the key to progress and we all are leading our own path to success. There’s no such thing as a short route to build a prosperous business overnight, as many other things in life, things take time to grow and we all need to make mistakes to realize what works for us and what we have to adjust. Last but not least do not compare yourself to other people pursuing the same dream, frustrations and rewards exist at all levels on the path.
La Tinta pieces can be found in our store and on our website.