We are very proud to announce Martin Turner as the Talented Artist of the Year 2018!
Not only did Martin sell 18 individual artworks (including originals and prints) at the Talented Art Fair 2018, but the organisers were blown away by the intricate detail and skill level of this incredible artist.
The astonishing fact that Turner only picked up his pencils in 2016 simply adds to the story. Following a decade of award winning photography, Turner returned to his childhood interest of drawing. Although more used to creating images in hundredths of a second than the 40 to 100 hours that his pencil drawings now take he found that, despite the change in medium, his eye for detail remained the same. Turner is completely self taught which has allowed his work to be become distinctly recognisable up close. He has no sketch books - his final pieces are his only drawings.
We are also delighted to announce that Martin Turner will be re-exhibiting at this year's Talented Art Fair 1-3 March 2019. The event is Free Entry all weekend, or Friday evening Private Tickets tickets are available to purchase here.
Lemon Art's Director Oliver Norris caught up with Martin recently to gain an insight into this incredible artist's history, inspiration and creation process.
1) Your level of work is quite incredible considering how long you have been exhibiting, but when did you actually start creating artwork?
I think I am as surprised as everyone else is to be honest. I started drawing in 2016 with no real intention other than to reignite a passion from my childhood. As a child I loved to sketch and would happily sit for countless hours drawing; although back then it was different, less realism and somewhat more illustrative by comparison. Inspiration came from the many illustrations found in Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone fantasy adventure novels which I used to love reading. Unfortunately, and much like all children, I found other interests and that was the end of that.
It was only in later years working full time in IT that I realised I was desperate to do something creative. This initially led me to photography, which proved rather rewarding for the best part of ten years. Then one rainy day, I thought I'd dust off the pencils and draw one of my photos. I was only part the way in when I realised the immense sense of satisfaction and happiness and ultimately what it was, to be an artist.
2) What was your first entry in London's art world and what did you gain from that experience?
I was first spotted by Calum and Alex at Creative Debuts after uploading a couple of pieces to their online portal. I was delighted when I got an email asking me to get in touch with regard to a number of exhibition opportunities. A stand out moment with CD was having work selected for inclusion in a group exhibition in collaboration with the mighty Instagram. The feedback I got was amazing and it really gave me that push to look for further opportunities. This led me to Talented Art Fair. I made my application having heard really positive things from other artists. The idea that I could represent myself within an open gallery space was exciting, and offered something different from elsewhere. The experience was amazing, so many artists under one roof, it felt like one big family and became a weekend I will never forget.
3) How have you developed your style, who have you learned from and how have they helped you?
On paper, my art education extends to a rather meagre GCSE, and even that was a stroke of luck given the comprehensive I attended. That being said, it was enough to lay a foundation and teach me the basics. The rest has come from being self-taught, with my own experimentation fundamentally defining my own style. That's not to say the work of others does not inspire, more a case that it makes me look at my own work in a more creative light rather than as a point of reference.
You will probably have spotted a lot of diversity in my subject matter, this has been very deliberate in choosing. I figured if I can draw anything then my own creativity would be my only constraint looking forward. You'd be surprised how many techniques I have recycled throughout my body of work. I believe it's about having the patience and confidence to get things right. I realise that if I correct my mistakes as I go along, the end piece rewards that perseverance.
4) What would be your ideal Solo Show and where would you like it to be held?
A solo show would be amazing, and a gallery in London would be my immediate answer. I live in Bristol currently and don't think the art movement is as well developed here. Not to say it's not getting better but it needs some work. Plus, I'm a little biased being a Londoner at heart so will always be sentimental about our capital.
5) You do much more than just make pencil drawings, tell us about your creation process and how long it takes to create your work?
It all depends on what I am working on but I will usually work from a photo. My latest piece "Torn", was conceptually built from a series of photos which I brought together on the drawing board. I had a rough idea of what I wanted and simply experimented as I went along. For the more traditional pieces, I usually pick an obvious starting point and then work my way from there, sketching out key lines and adding the detail as I go. It's all about getting it right and correcting mistakes before going too far. I am sure there are ways my workflow could be improved but I am happy with the result and especially like that I don't follow someone else's rules. I think this has allowed my work to become recognisable up close.
My drawings usually take between 40 and 60 hours, although a number of my later pieces have taken in excess of 100 hours, which I expect will become the standard given a recent increase in paper size. I sit for anywhere between 1 and 6 hours and aim to do a little every day. I experience a lack of confidence if I stop for a prolonged period, so I will focus more on less precise areas following a break. The confidence comes back quickly though, thankfully.
6) You have such a variety of themes in your drawings, how do you choose your next subject matter and what are you currently working on?
I am still in the infancy of my art journey so am loving the diversity. I spend countless hours thinking about possible subjects and conceptually how I can best present them. Having no set agenda really opens the door to your own creativity, so more recently I have naturally adopted a little surrealism into my work. I think this is something I will look to explore further in the future and am excited at the prospect of watching my work grow as I mature as an artist.
7) As a family man in full time employment, how do you find the time to create, promote your work, organize your events and plan your next art fair or exhibition, what is your usual weekly schedule?
It is a juggling act and whilst I don't count, I am probably working 100+ hour weeks but when you love what you do, I don't think you ever look at the clock (probably the reason why I forgot to pick the kids up from school the other week!). I try to be well organised and ensure my planning for events is done well in advance which seems to remove that last minute frenzy that comes before an event. Social media is my biggest challenge: its knowing how best to promote my work without bombarding people over the many number of networking sites. I also have to remind myself that I too love art, so ensuring I find time to enjoy the work of the many artists I follow. It's tricky as I can see how easy it is to become a little self-absorbed with no real gain or haemorrhaging time without realising.
8) Since the Talented Art Fair you have been signed by a gallery, how has this helped your confidence as an artist and your art career in general?
I was rather taken back when I received the email from Art Salon in Bath. The owner, Jeni Weinberger, expressed admiration for my work, but equally saw an opportunity to help me develop as an artist. It has been so refreshing to meet someone prepared to give critique, especially given her impressive CV. The biggest hurdle when I exhibit, has always been a general perception that I am a photographer (especially when my work is viewed from a few feet away). So, when I heard that my presentation was an area that could benefit from a little work, I was really interested to hear more. Anyway, several hours later and my brain was ready to explode but in a really positive way. I came away feeling really confident and knew I needed to make a few changes. It's still early days but I can already see a massive improvement in my approach as an artist and look forward to seeing my work grow at Art Salon.
9) As you still qualify as a rather new artist, you have been invited to exhibit at the New Artist Fair in September, what have you got planned for this ‘Summer Exhibition’?
I was delighted when I got the invitation to exhibit at New Artist Fair. Whilst it feels like I have been an artist for ages, I have in fact only produced 18 exhibition pieces since my journey began in 2016. For the Summer Exhibition I will be bringing a number of my more recent experimental pieces with me. Whilst still embodied in realism they also feature a little surrealism and with a fresh new presentation throughout. I urge people to come and see my work up close, the detail really cannot be appreciated on a screen.
10) What advice would you give to artists starting out or trying to break through to the bigger stage?
I can only share my journey so far, but something that immediately springs to mind is ensuring you get honest feedback. Find a mentor or someone who may not know you well, and is well placed to say the things you may not want to hear. The more feedback you get, both good and bad, the better you will mature as an artist. I am still learning but I can already see much improvement in both my work and approach from the feedback I have received.
In contrast, my second piece of advice is to experience things for yourself. It's really easy to be put off from applying for things based on the comments of others. Be confident in your own craft, and although I sold numerous pieces at the Talented Art Fair, remember success is not measured in sales. Art can simply be loved.
Come Meet Martin Turner and add a piece to your collection by visiting the New Artist Fair this weekend at the Truman Brwery, more information can be found here!