We had the good fortune of connecting with Luciano Martinez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Luciano, have you had any epiphanies during or due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
This whole year has been quite strange. I am sure that many people have felt that we could have done without this year. There have been countless obstacles and stresses. For me and most of this year has been a major challenge.

Lockdown was definitely stressful and shortly after that lifted, the Black Lives Matter protests started to gain momentum. I saw a lot of anger and pain in the world and I began to feel an inner conflict tug at me about the things happening not only to our planet but to each other. I have a tendency to fall into depression and anxiety through stressful events and both the pandemic and the protests sent me to a place of uncertain doom. I had to start therapy again to work things out in my own head and I abandoned most social networks. I deteriorated mentally and became quite secluded from my social groups. Due to the virus being so contagious, I had to meet my therapist on zoom and that felt odd and uncomfortable. It took a while to really get used to the feeling of seeing someone on a camera and talking about my fears and anxiety. It has been very humbling to work around all the new obstacles in place during these hard times. These “obstacles” have given me an opportunity to appreciate life much more. I support the humanitarian efforts of Black Lives Matter and I am a big advocate on slowing the spread of Covid-19. I feel we all have to do our part to help one another and to pick each other up when we fall. I think a lot of people lose focus on what is important when their comforts are stripped. It is imperative that if we are to survive this year’s madness, we must really do our best to help one another get through this. I have been working on a graphic novel, The Dark Star, for years slowly conceptualizing the book’s cast and bringing the story line together. I am fleshing out concepts with a wonderful digital painter named Raivis Drāka from Latvia. In the graphic novel, I reflect much of what is happening today in a comic book form. I don’t believe this project would see the light of day unless I had the last few months to work on it with complete focus. In the end, tragedy did make this work possible and I am humbled that I can be given the gift of time no matter how devasting and heartbreaking that time has been. To create something out of moments of turmoil is what wonderful art comes from. I hope to do justice to this moment in our human history.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Recently, one of my collaborations has fallen through which has brought me a lot of internal anguish. The fall out of the collaboration, however, has given me a renewed opportunity to focus on my own projects which I had been ignoring for some time. In a way, it was a bit of a godsend. My focus at the moment is taking on new clients and constructing a three-book graphic novel series about a vampire religion, work on a new issue of BloPop Magazine, work on a new line of limited-edition tees for My Friends Love Me and assemble a new series of works for children’s bedrooms. In the last few years, I worked on illustrating bilingual children’s books by Lectura Books based in Pasadena, California. Working on the books really inspired me to work on new original pieces for kids’ rooms based on shamanism and the spiritual connection humans have to our universe.

In addition, I am collaborating with a few creatives on a new web animation series titled “The Golden Hour” which is a narrative on a modern day “shaman” who is discovering his abilities to see beyond the earthly veil. In addition to mentoring Christopher, our son, with Sinking Ship Studios, it seems that my days have become busy with lots of new projects. In many ways, my time during the lockdown since the Corona virus first came to light has be quite productive even though they have been emotionally taxing. All the things I am feeling and the visuals that I am getting in both a sleep state and on a sub conscious level is a big part of this new body of work. I feel like I am in a constant state of existentialism and making sense of our current dilemmas are part of my creative workload.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love eating vegetarian and vegan and I love food that does not use animal products. Here are a few of my favorite places to go to that are quite wonderful to visit!

1. Tacos Tu Madre for Vegan Tacos – http://www.tacostumadre.com 2. The Pizza Press for Vegan Pizza – https://www.thepizzapressmenu.com 3. Vegan House Thai Bistro for Vegan Thai Food – https://www.veganhousethaibistro.com 4. Eat by Chloe for Vegan Burgers – https://order.eatbychloe.com  

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to admit that I have been very lucky to be supported by many wonderful creatives, friends and family. They have all inspired me in some way or another and have been part of my creative projects throughout the span of my Art Center days and my professional career. At the moment, I am incredibly thankful to mentor and support my son Christopher Friedrichsen. He just recently graduated with a computer science degree putting his focus on computer game development. He has always been drawn to this computer gaming world and felt it was natural for him to work at a gaming studio. So, when he asked for my advice whether he should build his own computer game with two of his peers instead of immediately entering the work force, I was incredibly excited for him. Most young professionals fear immediately jumping into unknown territory and normally want to get their feet wet before venturing out on their own but when Chris showed me his notes and detailed plans for the game, I was astounded, and my natural reaction was – “Do it!” My partner and I knew that Chris had reservations whether he was willing to invest a year or two building his and his friend’s vision of what they wanted to see in a computer game but we assured him any experience he takes from building this game would be beneficial in any job that was laid before him. During the past year, he has been keeping me updated on his process and the process of his two fellow collaborators. My partner and I have mentored him in contracts, trademarking and branding while having deep conversations about how to maintain a progressive flow of creativity without becoming a “computer-zombie.” The stress of carrying such a big workload and the pressure of creating something so enormous can be deafening and so I often talk to him about my struggles as a creative and allow him to voice his concerns before they become problematic to his work progress. I find myself now looking at all the work done for the game and I am awe-stricken to know that three young graduates could build something so complex and defined not to mention very cool all on their own. I work often with my longtime collaborator, music artist Orfeo, and understand the complexities of art collaborations and I feel that Chris and his collaborators are doing creative sharing their workload and doing some amazing work. They made the decision to work under their own studio and conceptualized Sinking Ship Studios in which their first computer game titled “Shaype.” I can’t help but to feel immense pride in his work ethic and creativity I honestly have to say that his growth as a computer game developer and conceptual game artist – is the main inspiration to me most these days. So, my “Shout Out” is to him and his game collaborator Cody Johnson.

Website: https://www.umastudiola.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/umastudiola/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucianomartinez/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/umastudiola
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100028231637617
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-LLU3-Kq-J7KQRiJwS5OEw?view_as=subscriber

Image Credits

Biography Photo: Lluvia Higuera, Luciano Martinez_Voyage LA – Shout Out – Image 1 Project: Orfeo – “Smut” Polaroid Zine Photography: Jason Ware, Luciano Martinez_Voyage LA – Shout Out – Image 2 Project: “Shaype” Computer Game Game Developers: Chris Friedrichsen, Cody Johnson, Luciano Martinez_Voyage LA – Shout Out – Image 3 Project: Disney, Luciano Martinez_Voyage LA – Shout Out – Image 4 Project: Orfeo – “Rise Above The Fear” Single Photographer: Natalie J. Arriola Model: Rae Castillo, Luciano Martinez_Voyage LA – Shout Out – Image 5 Project: “The Vampire Boy” Graphic Novel Digital Illustrator: Raivis Drāka, Luciano Martinez_Voyage LA – Shout Out – Image 6 Project: “Shaype” Computer Game Game Developers: Chris Friedrichsen, Cody Johnson, Luciano Martinez_Voyage LA – Shout Out – Image 7 Project: Orfeo – “Better Off” Photographer: Natalie J. Arriola, Luciano Martinez_Voyage LA – Shout Out – Image 8 Project: Orfeo – “Close To Me” Single Digital Illustrator: Giorgia Lanza, Luciano Martinez_Voyage LA – Shout Out – Image 9 Project: My Friends Love Me Digital Illustrator: Giorgia Lanza

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