Bushwick-based iPad artist Jeremy Martin’s career started almost haphazardly; when an outbreak of mold infected his laptop he was left with no choice but to replace it. To save some money after the tragic accident, he decided to buy an iPad instead. Always having been involved with art throughout his life, Martin naturally started playing around with painting and drawing applications like Sketches and ProCreation.
Using his favorite celebrities as his muses, he began to create energetic, vibrant, encapsulating, portraits. In 2015, he tweeted Prince a portrait he did of him, and was instantly noticed. “Once he retweeted it, people just started contacting me about my work,” Martin said of the unexpected popularity.
Over the next three years, Martin developed a digitized portfolio consisting of over 280 celebrity portraits in a unique and lively style that draws together Picasso-esque forms and Warholian color schemes. As a self-taught digital artist, the medium of an iPad allows Martin to constantly experiment and fine-tune his techniques. “My first paintings were terrible,” Martin laughed, “I’m still learning how to use new tools and features everyday.”
Martin was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. His interest in art was sparked when his neighbor gave him a drawing set for his birthday, “From then on, I was taking art classes in school and experimenting with different materials.”
Throughout his childhood, Martin kept up with fashion and pop-culture, “I was always reading Teen Vogue and watching Fashion File.” His love for fashion stayed with him, and he received his Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Merchandising from Wayne State University.
Upon graduating, he was working at American Apparel as a merchandiser when he felt called to go to New York. “I knew I wanted to be there, so I asked my manager if I could transfer to a New York store,” Martin said.
However, after hopping around the city and growing tired of the fashion industry, Martin took a break and moved back in with his mom in Tennessee. Despite feeling lost and restless about his next move, his intuition guided him in the right direction. It was during this short break that Martin bought his first iPad, and also got accepted into Pratt to get his Master’s in Art Therapy, “Coming back to New York opened a lot of doors for me.”
Aside from doing dazzling commission-based projects such as one of IMAN for her 60th birthday or one of Aretha Franklin for DDEAF Detroit magazine, Martin naturally returned to his roots in fashion. This past fall fashion week he was asked by Prabal Gurung to do illustrations of the show’s backstage action: “It was so cool to see all the models I’ve always admired running around, dancing, laughing, and messing around before the show.” He also was commissioned to do a portrait of Bill Cunningham by Mark Bozek, for his documentary about the late photographer, “Times of Bill.”
Bozek connected Jeremy with Apple leading to yet another creative venture that boosted his artistic career. Since 2017, he’s been leading Art Live Events at various Apple Stores around the country. At each event he does a demonstration on how to use the various tools the iPad provides for making art. Participants are supplemented with an iPad for the hour to follow along. His most recent event in August featured Iris Apfel, and focused on the basics of fashion illustration. “I love doing these events because they’re so inclusive and accessible,” Martin said, “With Apple, there’s no barriers. They’re super supportive.”
Jeremy is also an art therapist and works with Housing Works, helping young people of the LGBTQ+ community who are at risk and suffering from instability in their personal lives. “Being a queer person of color myself, I feel like patients are more comfortable talking with someone they can relate to.” Every session, he introduces his patients to new materials and helps them channel their experiences into artwork, “Using art as a means for expression is extremely powerfully, especially when you’re trying to figure out who you are. It has always been an outlet for me and has helped through the hardest times in my own life.”
Martin now lives in Bushwick with his boyfriend, classical pianist, Daniel Schreiner. Their apartment equals as a studio space for the both of them. “I love the creative community in Bushwick,” Jeremy told Bushwick Daily, “And my boyfriend says it reminds him of Berlin with all the murals and street art.”
By having his own space, Martin is able to experiment with new mediums, such as jewelry. He recently started working with horsehair to create one-of-a-kind necklaces.
This year, Jeremy hopes to continue pushing the limits with his work and pursue more creative relationships. “I want to start taking my own reference photos for my paintings, and maybe even do an art show one day.” He is also planning on doing more Live Art events with Apple, including doing one at the Williamsburg location. Most importantly, Martin is just going to continue taking life as it comes, following his intuition.
As Martin put it, “If there’s one piece of advice I could give, it’s to keep your eyes open to opportunities.”
Cover: Lupita Nyong’o by Jeremy Martin. All images courtesy of Jeremy Martin.
For more news, sign up for Bushwick Daily’s newsletter.