If you’ve ever strolled through Fremont’s bright and vibrant neighborhood, chances are you’ve seen the work of local tattoo artist Kyler Martz. As a tattoo artist, you might not think Martz’s work would be showcased in the public realm, but think again. His work is highlighted all over the city, inside buildings, on the exterior, on city electrical boxes and in murals around town. Martz has been involved with both public and private organizations to bring art into the community and into the lives of those who live in the area. Martz said he draws inspiration from a mix of his love of old kids books, traditional tattooing and printmaking, setting his creations apart from others. Martz has worked with big name companies such as Facebook, Starbucks, Simms Fishing, Levis, Hermes and many more. His work has also been featured in Deloitte Digital’s new studio in downtown, where his large mural serves as the focal point of the studio.
As a local artist, how important is art for the community and what type of value does it add?
It is vital and transformative. Especially in these political times, art is the best form of expression for many of us artists and a powerful tool to send messages to people.
How do you feel you fit into the architecture and design world without being an architect yourself? And how can art contribute to that industry?
While I’m not an architect or designer, I draw a lot from both worlds, using different elements of each to create my work. I think when successful, my illustration and mural work acts as a cohesive element in the rest of the design, or structure. Sometimes my work can be a feature element, or other times more subdued, as another substrate option like wood or granite.
What are you doing to try and incorporate more art into the community?
I’m trying to stay as involved as I can with Urban Artworks, who manages these public art murals. I get a lot of offers for doing murals in high-end buildings in downtown or new office buildings but I like to keep my art accessible to the community as a whole, especially youth.
Drive through Fremont and you can’t help but notice several works of art all around you, what pieces have you contributed to the area?
I’ve done quite a bit of public and private work in Fremont, the most visible being located at the Whale Wins Restaurant. In addition to that one, there is a trail of the signal boxes I worked on in partnership with the Fremont Community Council and Urban Artworks.
You’ve worked with the city of Seattle to create murals on electrical boxes, how’d that relationship start and eventually evolve?
I had been involved with a few projects with Urban Artworks, a local non-profit organization that works with adjudicated youth to create public art throughout Seattle, when they asked if I would be interested in the signal box designs. I volunteered teaching the youth about some painting techniques, and eventually that relationship evolved into mural work and public art.
How many electrical boxes have you done and where do you draw your inspiration from for those?
I’m almost done wrapping up a series of ten in Fremont, we have one more to paint. I try to take as much as I can from the Fremont’s rich history and evolve the designs in my style.
What other public work have you done around the city?
Besides the Whale Wins mural and signal box art, I’ve also designed the old Millworks building in SODO that Urban Artworks painted and painted and designed the Ballard Tool Mural on the back of Ballard Pizza Co.
What projects are in the works for you this year?
I can’t talk about most of what I’m working on, but I’m excited to be doing some more public signal boxes for Fremont and a mural at Paul Allen’s new Augusta building in the U-District.
What are your dream projects you’d love to do around Seattle?
The I-5 Overpass Columns in Eastlake, I would love to do that.
Are you working with or mentoring younger kids so that they can also contribute to the artwork around the area?
Yes, Urban Artworks is a great way to go about this.
What do you hope your art means to the people in the community who walk past it or see it every day?
I hope it brightens their day.
You can find more of his work at kylermartz.com or on his Instagram: @kylermartz