Exclusive new works from tattoo powerhouse Martha Smith, available now at the depot_. Check out the works here.
Martha Smith is an acclaimed tattoo artist and illustrator in equal measure; her signature dotwork work style has evolved from her background in printmaking, a nod to traditional engraving and etching techniques.
With a particular focus on floral motifs and the nude body, Martha’s work combines references of both traditional illustration and tattoo culture in her distinct and beautiful pieces.
We spoke with Martha on illustration, the female nude and the influence of her tattoo career within her work.
Q: Both your tattoos and illustrations are instantly recognisable for their signature dotwork style and bold outlines - is this something which developed out of illustrations into your tattooing or vice versa?
A: I began my creative life studying illustration, whilst there I became interested in printmaking techniques which involve a confident, permanent line. This is definitely where my style began. Once I became more knowledgeable of the parameters of a tattoo machine, I knew its capabilities so began creating more involved designs using dotwork as a way of showing light and dark.
Q: You’re able to utilise these bold outlines and blocks of colour to create works which depict incredibly powerful women. Do you think your experience as a female tattoo artist has had any influence on this?
A: I think working in a very male heavy field does naturally make you think about gender roles. I have been very lucky both creatively and personally to always have been surrounded by powerful women, very often killing it in male dominated industries - it has given me a foundation of confidence in my gender, and an assurance I can do whatever I work hard at.
Q: The use of the female nude in your practice is often tied into depicting fruit or flowers; can you tell us about your interest in illustrating the natural world?
A: My biggest inspiration creatively has always been art for a purpose. This lead me to becoming interested in naturalists and botanists studies of nature, used for scientific purposes and records. I think this is why I'm always drawn to these themes as subject matter.
Q: As lockdowns and restrictions have impacted studios and artists, what role do you see printmaking taking on within your practice? Are you enjoying having more time to create paper and print based works?
A: Printmaking has played a huge roll in my creative practice this year. I hadn't printed since I graduated art school in 2010, so it was lovely falling back in love with the process.
Once I return to tattooing, I’m very much hoping to continue making artwork, hopefully balancing my week between the 2!
Q: We love the work you’ve created for Inked Up, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for you - can you give us a sneak peak into what you have planned for 2021 so far?
A: Thank you. Hopefully, 2021 will see me returning to my true love of tattooing. Due to family circumstances, I have had to shield from COVID since March so havent tattooed since then. My husband and I amazingly have been able to stay afloat and positive by creating a new little business of selling my art, but I would love to start tattooing again. Hopefully 2021 will see me and my loved ones vaccinated, optimistic, and ready to start life again!
the depot_ will be releasing 4 exclusive works from Martha, each an edition of just 3. Available online from 6pm Monday 18th January 2021, these exquisite pieces won't be around for long.