Thursday, March 29, 2007

Artist Spotlight: Billy Martinez of Neko Press

My wife and I recently met Billy Martinez, owner and publisher of Neko Press on our trip to Wizard World LA. His display at the Golden Apple booth was small, but I was very impressed by how what he was there to present immediately grabbed the attention of myself and other passersby. I was delighted and inspired in seeing that he, and his wife, seemed to be doing well, selling comics and prints of Billy's work, along with the works of other talents, while the artist himself did some very impressive live painting. Upon talking with them, I learned that he was not only a fellow art teacher, but was doing well as a gallery artist, too. Well, as you can imagine, I immediately realized that I should at least somewhat follow this guy's example. I have to admit, that if I hadn't had seen him selling prints, I wouldn't be doing my print project, right now. After the show, I sent him an e mail with some questions, that are always on my mind (about art and the art world) and this is what he was kind enough to send back.

When a person gets into publishing, it's usually because they have a vision, or see a need in the print world that isn't being filled. What are you trying to provide to comics, that no one else is?
I think I'm really focusing on putting out books that readers will remember. I want to make sure they get the most out of our books. Our job is to entertain readers so I'm doing my best to make that promise to our readers.

Outside of comics, you show some really beautiful work in galleries. Are your patrons comic fans, or are you working in two separate worlds?
Two separate worlds. I run my art school in La Mesa. I always tell my students to be versatile. Life is always changing and an artist must change and adapt if he or she wants to make a career out of the biz.

Concept wise, where do you think art is thriving more... in the comics books or in galleries?
At this point it's hard to tell. Both are doing well but I would need more time to observe this.

What do you wish you could see more of? What would you ask growing artists to think about, when they are making art?
To have fun and to follow their own mark and not try to be a clone of other artists. Be original.

You paint mainly women. What are you trying to convey when you paint them?
The beauty and personality and strengths of a woman.

What are your next goals? Where do you see yourself one year from now?
Making comic books and doing more paintings. The same thing I have been doing for over 14 years.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Red wine is good for the heart. Drink lots of it!

Ah, a wine man, too! I'll drink to that.

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