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

Hi Martin, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
In 1991 I decided, in the middle of a modestly successful career, to return to school. I enrolled in Cranbrook Academy of Art, where I received my MFA in 1993. It was there that I learned that my design career could fully integrate with how I experienced and understood the world. I practiced putting all aspects of my self into the things I made: my politics, my identity, my likes and dislikes, and my curiosity. That experience provided me tools for success. But more than that, it gave me tools for happiness and pleasure in the things I created; things often overlooked in measuring achievement.

Returning to school in mid-career can be harrowing. I left all of my security and convenience behind, making me especially vulnerable. I couldn’t hide behind my past achievements. I had to learn new skills. But by accepting that vulnerability, and admitting that there were others who knew more than I did, I was able to absorb so much of their teaching. Launching forward from that platform, I have become a skilled designer, artist, and educator; an adventurer who doesn’t run from the insecurity that necessarily surrounds the creative act.

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 work merges my design practice with an increasing interest in photography. I bring together aspects of digital work within an analog process of accumulating, combining, and constructing abstract elements into large combinations. The results are sometimes modestly-sized prints, but other times, I cover entire walls with a photographic installation. Each step takes a long time, and each work evolves slowly as relationships reveal themselves while I work and observe.

I use my camera as a way to investigate rather than document. Through this process, I discover unexpected form as I break down scavenged and discarded objects into a rich visual vocabulary.

As a designer, I primarily work in book and publication design, which involves a methodology of organization, hierarchy, and carefully built relationships of text to image, image to page, and page to book.

For me, my work is a reflection of the world I witness; a constant intersection and reshuffling of objects, people, places, and light. Nothing is seen in isolation, everything is in constant conversation.

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?
If my friend’s visit coincided with the first Sunday of the month, we would definitely visit the Alameda Point Antique Fair. I find so many great discoveries in the ever-changing merchandise. I’d make a point of visiting some of San Francisco’s signature museums, like SFMOMA and the De Young in Golden Gate Park. But I’d also encourage visits to some lesser known gems, like the Museum of Craft & Design, and Pier 24.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Katherine McCoy ran the 2D design program at Cranbrook where I received my MFA. It was her support and encouragement that brought me into the program and helped me make the most of it. So many other designers, educators, and students have all helped me along the way, and are still helping me now. I rely heavily on a small but vital group of friends to encourage and challenge me.

Website: www.martinvenezky.com

Instagram: @martinvenezky (This is where I post all my latest work as it develops.)

Linkedin: Martin Venezky

Twitter: @martinvenezky

Facebook: @martinvenezky

Image Credits
For the first image (the portrait of me in the gallery space), please credit Lawrence Lander. Everything else is all my own work.

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.