Day 359: Martens Printworks

The Awesome Mitten - Martens Printworks
Artwork courtesy of Martens Printworks

Most people love Michigan for its beautiful lake shores, seasonal variety, Midwest spirit, amazing natural landscapes, and other specialties of the great Mitten State. Petrus Martens is no different. However, he found a different method of sharing that love. He creates aesthetically-vintage travel posters of various locations in Michigan that are reminiscent of the colors and composition employed by early 20th century printmaking. They are an exercise in the “man’s eye view” of Michigan landscapes, architecture, and versatility.

Strangely, or not so strangely, Martens is not a Michigan native. That in and of itself probably brings a unique perspective to this nostalgic form of art. He was born in Ohio, moved to the Bahamas, and studied fine art and printmaking at Florida State University (and even a short stint at Yale University, as well). With this constantly changing perspective of the world, it makes sense that his work is so appealing to varying audiences. Martens explains the posters are “drawn from the inspired view of what you would see.” He considers his art to be a mixture of photography, artful coloration, and a mission to resemble the work of an earlier time.

The Awesome Mitten - Martens Printworks
Artwork courtesy of Martens Printworks.

“A lot of things are by accident,” Martens explains. Most of his posters have been inspired by a series of photographs that he tweaks and maneuvers into the evolutionary process that is the final piece. He smiles and says, “I love the process of having several artistic ideas going on at once, and having that golden moment when you know you have the right composition.” The posters are all standard size and are available at various stores throughout Michigan as well as on Martens’ website. Essentially, Martens‘ art not only looks like the vintage posters, but is a practice in the accessibility of prints and poster making as well.

Currently, Martens has 26 available prints, but he has many more ideas brewing. Eventually, he would like make the posters on a larger scale, perhaps creating some “limited edition” prints that utilize hand coloring or delving into botanical prints of rare Michigan plants. Martens has seen great success at trade shows, art shows, and word of mouth promotion. A lot of his customer base consists of returning clients, and he really enjoys the community created around these posters. He smiles, “I really love doing this.”

The Awesome Mitten - Martens Printworks
Artwork courtesy of Martens Printworks.

Even though Martens has been to many beautiful, tropical locales, he still marvels at the beauty of Michigan. He even believes that the landscapes and the lake shores are reminiscent of the Bahamas. He laughs, “The only thing that is missing is the palm trees.” His posters try to highlight what is unique about the area while still taking an artistic approach. “It’s the lake shore. The Sleeping Bear Dunes–you just don’t experience that anywhere else,” Martens says, explaining why Michigan is awesome to him and important to his art.

You can keep a look out for Martens Printworks at several art shows throughout June and July or shop online. Perhaps while you are traveling around the Mitten this summer you will stumble on some of his work in the galleries and shops he is featured in. Eventually, you will be able to reach Martens through social media, but not just yet…

~Joanna Dueweke, Feature Writer

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I was raised in vacation-land, Traverse City, where I was one of the lucky ones to enjoy the beach in the summer and snowboard through the winters. Then, I went to college and lived in East Lansing and Lansing, where I learned about sports and getting things done. Now I'm quite honestly falling head over heels for Detroit. I solemnly believe that life is too short for bad coffee, yucky wine, and poorly crafted beer. This means that Michigan is the perfect place for me! My spare time is spent reading or exploring the outdoors. E-mail me: joanna@awesomemitten.com.