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

Hi Martin, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think about risk as part of the job when having a creative woodworking career. Risk is everywhere everyday but mitigating and managing it well is what separates people with long lasting careers versus those that had to close shop prematurely.

Risk has affected my life and career every step of the way because nothing is ever guaranteed. I did not know whether or not I would be successful at woodworking or if I could even make a living doing it. There was never any guarantee I would continue furniture making beyond attending woodworking school. If anything, I had the cards stacked against me for making living as as a furniture maker.

Unless you are a trust fund baby with disposable income or have a spectacular financial support system, furniture making/woodworking is a game of chess. Every project you take on, every machine you buy, every person you hire is a calculated risk. I know people who have had their whole careers ended because they took on a project that they could not finish or an employee made a costly mistake or an expensive machine broke down that was vital to work flow.

My best advice about career risk is taking it in manageable doses. Say no to projects that make you anxious or nervous. Work on projects you are comfortable doing. Buy tools and machines that fit your budget. Do not buy a tool for a project unless it is calculated into the price where it pays for itself. The longer your career sticks around the more risk you can take, the more you will learn over time on and things will come your way…projects, tools, and people.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is a multi-disciplinary studio practice that utilizes traditional hand skills such as woodworking, basketry, and metal work to make sculptural and functional pieces of work. I like to think my execution and approach to utilizing hand skills helps my work become more noticeable.

Although my professional practice is only 3 years old at this point I still feel proud to have made it this far. The biggest hurtle is facilitating a studio space to make work which requires a lot of personal financial investment. Work space is not cheap and neither are tools. To facilitate most of what I do art wise I have to make a lot of personal sacrifices that may seem unconventional to other people. Thrifting clothes, buying used things, and simply being resourceful has helped me the whole way. The only thing I would want the world to know about my story is that I did it my way.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have a personal bias with kicking it around the downtown area. It’s an easy place to just walk around and find something to eat and do. Some of downtown eats I would want to hit up are The Bread Lounge, Chuys Tacos Dorados, anything in the Grand Central Market and the late night bacon wrapped street hotdogs. For downtown cultural entertainment I would hit up both MOCA locations and The Broad. Lastly I would take them to South LA for some of the best street food you’ll ever find.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to give a shoutout to my alma mater, the CSULB Woodworking Program. I definitely would not have my career without the awesome learning environment that the program provided. Also, my partner Ariel Maldonado who I met there and has been there ever since.

Instagram: @martinalexanderstudio

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