By Nika Shakhnazarova
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Luke Martin likes to transport his audience directly into his artwork.
The 21-year-old Baltimore-based artist uses a graphic art form that combines screen-printing with illustrations.
This technique sets his work apart from most other screen-printers who choose to use just one of the two mediums. It also helps to transport the viewer into his artwork to make them feel like they are a part of the action they witness, Martin said.
“During my freshman year of college, I took screen-printing, took the ball and ran with it ever since then,” said Martin, otherwise known as Suburban Avenger. “I’ve been doing this since 2015 and am lucky to start making a career out of it.”
Martin’s work has come a long way from in-class projects. His talen
ts were discovered by famous rock bands across the nation last year, which ensured a busy 2017 for Suburban Avenger Studios where Martin was able to sell his work.
“I’m currently really into working on posters for bands. I’ve created posters for bands like Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, The Head and the Heart, Brand New and a couple others,” Martin said. “These bands get in contact with me through different sources. Sometimes I’ll have a contact from Live Nation or the venue or sometimes from other bands.”
Before Martin’s success could happen, he had to face a tough decision last year to leave Towson University, where he was a sophomore studying screen-printing.
“It felt right leaving school,” Martin said. “I wanted to leave to focus more on myself and my art. It was much needed time off that now has become kind of permanent.”
Martin’s work has also reached Towson University’s Theater Department.
David White, a Towson professor and playwright, became interested in Martin’s work almost instantly. He hired Martin to create a poster for Polaroid Stories, a play which encompasses visceral collision of story and reality which the Towson theater department was showcasing early last year.
“Luke’s work is in conversation with the work of some of my favorite poster artists: Emek, Tyler Stout and Shepard Fairey, to name a few,” White said. “In Luke’s work, as well as the work of these artists, there’s an edge, a connection to street art, underground art, graffiti, all of which is very much connected to the world of Polaroid Stories.’’
Martin’s success is sure to motivate him to achieve more this year.
“My goal each year is to make more of an income this year than I did last year,” Martin said. “I guess that’s every artist’s goal. The rule of thumb is if you make 10-15 percent more than what you made the year before then that’s a good measure of growth.”
The ultimate vision for Martin’s year-old business, Suburban Avenger Studios, is for him to start traveling to more shows with plans to sell his work at events.
“I’m going to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, next weekend and I’m excited to ship all of my posters down there,” Martin said. “I’m also trying to go to Artscape in Baltimore this year, where I can showcase my work.”
These events won’t be the first for Luke. He created a series of posters for festivals last year, including Thrival Festival in Pittsburgh and Free Press Summer Fest in Houston.
“Luke’s work has grown impressively in complexity, skill, and quantity,” said Tanya Ziniewicz, Luke’s former professor at Towson University. “His style of drawing and unique designs makes his work stand out from the rest. He was one of the most enthusiastic students in the class, and his heart was genuinely invested in the process.”