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Home | SAN ANTONIO | Spotlight | Spotlight - Amy Martin, Amy Arts

Spotlight - Amy Martin, Amy Arts

image Aaron Reyes and Amy Martin of Amy Arts, in front of her La Puerta mural, at a shelter for sex-trafficked youths.

SAN ANTONIO - From painting a homemade bench as a child to helping rebuild Big Tex for the Texas State Fair to transforming buildings with her murals, Amy Martin has colored the world with her creativity.





Share about your background.
    I spent much of my early life in El Paso. I showed a lot of early interest in art and I was really good at it. I come from a large family involved in higher education, and while I have a lot of creative genes in my family, I think a lot of my family would say that I got all of the artistic genes. There are a lot of intelligent, creative people in the family for sure, but not a lot of painters or artist types.

What is your earliest memory of being creative?
    I remember painting a picnic table that my dad made around 1986 and saying, “I want to do this when I get older,” but not really knowing what that meant. I don’t think there was a good arts program at the school I was at during that time. I had a high school teacher who encouraged me to consider going to college for art. I started researching art schools and applying in high school and was accepted to Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.

Was your family supportive of your artistic talent?
    They were very supportive. I was also interested in dance; ballet was my main interest as a kid and young adult. It became clear, though, that I was maybe a little bit better at art, so they pushed me to go to college for art. They said if I was going to go to college, I should at least go for something I was good at.
    I remember my dad dropping me off at college and asking one of the profes-sors, “So, do people actually make a living doing art?” My dad was a professor who taught college all of his life, so he was really concerned about whether I could be successful.

How did you support yourself as a starving artist in college?
    While I was earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, there were little jobs that would pop up. One woman would take a picture of a pet, turn it into a 3-D resin-casted animal with swinging legs and turn it into a necklace. She would hire art students to paint them realistically with acrylics. It sounds pretty cheap, but I made $7.00 per item! A few of us worked with professors at the college to help them in the studios.

After college, what did you do?
    I did some searching and traveled a bit. I worked in L.A. and Hollywood for few years and that launched me into the decorative arts field. It’s a long timeline; there are lots of years in there where I tried to find work. I did art on the side all of the time. I wanted to do art full-time eventually, but I had to find a way to make money, so I was trying other things, like getting my real estate license. But art was always in the background, and it gave me a lot of skills I needed to do what I am doing now.

Why did you launch Amy Arts?
    I had been in San Antonio for nine years; I came here as a single parent with kids and I needed to make money for them. I started looking for jobs as a painter. I just started calling out of the Yellow Pages and numbers off of the internet, and I started freelancing with some artists in San Antonio. It became clear that I wasn’t going to make money freelancing, that I needed to do my own thing. I just started slowly building a sample portfolio, working with people and meeting other people. I did things like paint bathrooms and I offered creative services. I opened a DBA and made a bunch of business cards with a stamp I made and started that way. My name grew and clients called me. It slowly evolved into several different businesses. I partnered with other artists in town but it didn’t work out, so two years ago, I said I was going to go for it and I started Amy Arts.

How did you meet your business partner?
     I was working on the Big Tex rebuild project for the State Fair for six months. It was an honor to be part of a project that was so iconic to Texas. It was during that project that I met my partner Aaron Reyes and we started dating. Aaron is a very talented artist and musician and has his own creative endeavors and he was doing other freelancing jobs. I said we could really make something great if we worked together.

What did Aaron think of going into business full-time?

    For both of us, it was important to have stable income, so the question was whether we could really do this full-time – together ­– and pull it off. It started off slowly and it just built and built. In the beginning, we were insecure about whether we could do it, but we’ve had a lot of success. Every other job we do, people just love the work we’re doing and the quality we offer.

Have you changed the way you work since Aaron joined you?

    For sure. I’ve had to be more organized and focused. Any time you’re self-employed, there’s always this funny line about when you’re working or not at work. He is very organized about when we are at work and when we are not. I’ve had to be more disciplined working with Aaron.
    He brings a lot to the company. He’s great with logistics. We push each other to grow and develop in the ways that we’re not very strong in. It’s a great balance. We work well together.

On what projects is Amy Arts currently working?
    Right now, we focus on many different things. There is an amazing organization called Roy Maas Youth Alternatives, which helps sex-trafficked teens and kids who are aging out of foster care. It has different buildings that are being renovated so we have done different projects for them, mostly murals inside and outside of the buildings. Most recently, we did a restoration of an exterior mural that was originally done in the 1980s; it was faded and old but they wanted to keep that mural alive and transform and redesign parts of it. We were awarded the contract, and it was a wonderful project. We’re in the works for a project similar to that, which is restoring old murals on buildings in town.
    I absolutely love murals, and that is something I have always wanted to do. It happened slowly and organically.

What would your dream project be?

    I have a project in mind to do in Boerne that I have been designing off an on in my free time. I would love to do a commemorative painting of Willie Nelson because he is someone I have really followed throughout the years. He’s one of those people I really honor and have a lot of respect for. I have a photo of him with his guitar in mind, so that’s kind of a dream project. I love him and feel strongly connected in some ways. It would be really fun to do a mural of him.

Did you ever meet Willie?
    I would see him riding his bicycle and he would wave at me, but I never met him!

What other artists inspire you?
    As far as the history of art is concerned, there are just so many I couldn’t name them all. I’ve been really affected by artists who did theatrical scenic painting, like Edward Hopper, who is a big inspiration. I love all of the impressionist painters.

What do you do in your free time?

    A lot of time is spent with my two kids. I have really gotten into nature hikes to clear my mind; it’s so meditative and relaxing.

Do you ever do art for pleasure?
    All of the time. I do things I wouldn’t normally do, like ink painting or sketching. I’ve been focusing on digital media and digital art; when I was in art school that was not even around. Now everything is digital, so I am slowly catching up on a lot of digital media.

What do you enjoy about your work?

    I like the whole process; I love the design work, getting creative and getting inspired by clients’ ideas. And of course, I love the reaction to it as well.

What do you hope the future holds?
    I would love to get hired to work on projects all over the world. I love traveling, so that’s a dream that I have. This is some-thing I would like to keep doing and I want to build Amy Arts into a brand. I would also like to create my own line of mural brushes.
    I would also like to create a foun-dation where I support young artists and help them find a way to make a living when they’re in school. I’d love to give back to the arts in some way.
    Subcontractor Amy Arts offers murals, fabrication and faux finishes. –mjm

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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net