Gerry Martinez has been creating art all her life, from the early days where she was in the same school year as the now award-winning artist Christian Hook, exploring virtually every artistic medium along the way.
After completing a foundation course in Art and Design at the Chelsea School of Art, Gerry went on to finish a degree in graphic design at the University of Plymouth. “I came back to Gibraltar and started working as a designer in a small studio, but I felt very stifled,” she says. With a desire to travel the world she applied for a job on a cruise ship, eventually ending up in Australia where she stayed for seven and a half years. “I did some quirky cartoon illustrations for Christmas cards that sold really well on the ship,” Gerry states, “together with caricatures of the people who I worked with.”
“Towards the end of my stint living in Australia I decided to go freelance as a graphic and web designer and I have been self-employed since 2001,” Gerry explains. “It has its challenges, but I wouldn’t change it.”
It has been argued that design is a skill and art is an innate gift and there is an ongoing debate about where design ends and art begins, but Gerry is fortunate to combine both these talents in her work as a graphic designer. “I am an artist first and foremost,” she asserts, going on to say, “but I suppose in many ways I am a digital artist because several elements of my digital influences are now prevailing in my art.”
In 2003 Gerry came back to Europe and set up her business, Niche Creative Solutions, living first in Spain and then moving back into Gibraltar four years later, giving birth to daughter Kate in 2008. “It was hard because people here didn’t know me in a business context, so I pretty much had to start from scratch,” she states.
Since then, Gerry has built up her business and now has a good client base, including some Government departments. “I’m basically a one-stop shop, so I design everything from their initial logo and branding,” she says. “I’m also a print broker, so I can handle all their printing, signage, all the information design and if they want to take it digital to web publishing, then I create their websites as well.”
Juggling work with being a full-time mum left Gerry little time to devote to her art. “I’m a self-employed business owner as well as a mother and it is only lately that I have been able to give myself flexibility as an artist.”
From working in charcoal, pastels, acrylics and oils, Gerry progressed to creating portraits and landscapes using the iPad, many featuring The Rock. Whilst the techniques and media she uses have evolved over the years, Gerry wanted to find something that she could put her stamp on. “I started focusing more on using the iPad and although it’s not an easy medium, that is probably why I am attracted to it even more.”
“If I have access to all these digital resources then I want to carry on using them because it is a way of bringing my art forward into the 21st century,” Gerry explains. “As for influences on my work; I look to the masters, the post-impressionists in particular.”
“My favourite genre has always been life drawing,” she says. “I have always wanted to find something that defined me, my niche!” Gerry has been able to further explore this by attending life drawing classes organised by the Fine Arts Gallery every Thursday. “When I have had a tough week I use the classes as therapy,” she comments. “It is just two hours of pure indulgence.” Gerry explains that life drawing is never boring, but always dynamic and ever-changing. The curvature of the female back is a frequent theme in paintings, and Gerry is currently working on a series featuring backs. Experimenting with different types of media in an unconventional manner appeals to Gerry who wants to provoke thought in people viewing her work. “For example, I peel back the layers of a photograph to create a painterly effect, like a watercolour, and also when using the iPad I try to get people to question the techniques that I have used.”
With encouragement and positive feedback from friends and fellow artists, Gerry is now ready to commercialise her art. “I have been very humbled to learn that people think this way about me, so my confidence has grown as an artist.” She has also featured recently on a GBC TV segment entitled ‘The Creatives’. Now Gerry can be found selling her artwork and prints at local art and craft fairs and is expanding to market her work in local retail outlets to tourists. “I have created a series of prints originating from photos that I took of Gibraltar doors,” she confirms, “and they have proved to be popular.”
“My motto has always been to open the door to any opportunities, so this is one that I am exploring and I am going to see where it takes me.”
This article appeared in the April edition of Gibraltar InSight Magazine
To view her artwork and find out more about Gerry, go to Geraldine Martinez Art