Mitchell Hallock: Hello Randy,
and thank you for taking the time away from the
drawing board to talk with me. Let’s start
off, where else, but at the beginning. How did
the young Randy Martinez know he wanted to be
Randy Martinez: I have been making
art as long as I can remember. Both of my parents
are artists so I have always been around it. I
knew how to paint before I could talk. I am a
Southern California Native and literally started
my life in the shadow of the Magic Kingdom. My
Dad was one of Caricature/portrait artists at
both Disneyland and Disneyworld. To be quite honest,
I don’t remember any of it, I was just too
little, but something tells me it helped start
my mind down a creative path. I grew up in Ventura
CA, about an hour north of Los Angeles. It’s
a little beach community filled to the gills with
surfers. I was a very athletic kid too. I played
just about everything. I was always at least a
head or two taller than the rest of the kids so
I always did pretty well, but especially at basketball.
From the time I was about 7 years old I was obsessed
with Basketball. My daily life from that point
was basketball in the day, drawing at night. It
made for a very interesting combination growing
up. All the kids wanted me on their team at the
playground and then wanted me to draw Darth Vader
for them after the game.
Darth Vader illustrated by Randy Martinez.
Making art was just something I
always did, I never really thought about it to
much, which I think was good because it was just
fun, and expressive with no pressure to add up
to anyone or judge. That is due in great part
to my parents. They have always supported my art
and did their best to always teach me new techniques,
mediums, and introduced me to new kinds of art
and artists. Things changed a little in high school.
It started getting really difficult to do both
art and basketball, but I was excelling at both.
Colleges were looking at me for
Basketball and Art schools wanted me for the art.
For the first time I started to feel pressure
about my art. Started feeling like I had to outdo
myself and impress everyone. I didn’t like
it so I focused more on basketball by my senior
year. I decided to follow my heart and attend
California Lutheran University to play hoops.
Figured I was only young once and I had to go
with it while I had the legs.
It only took about a year and a
half before art came back into my life. I had
a great professor who challenged me and taught
me some new philosophies that helped me regain
the love of creating art and with no pressure.
So I hung up the basketball shoes and focused
on my art. A couple years later I transferred
to the Kansas City Art Institute where I graduated
with a BA in Design and Illustration. Since then
I’ve been working as a professional illustrator.
Lots of struggling there in the beginning, but
things finally got rolling. I still play Basketball,
but only to try and stay in shape.
You mentioned drawing Darth Vader
and basketball – were those your main subjects
as a kid?
illustrated by Randy Martinez.
Different stages in my life brought
on different subject matters. The earliest thing
I can remember drawing was sharks. I was obsessed
with sharks because of Spielberg’s JAWS
so I never learned how to surf knowing that shark
was out there waiting for me! Funny thing is JAWS
was all I used to draw before Star
Wars came along. My Mom still has this
needlepoint I did in 1st grade. While all the
other kids did flowers or teddy bears, I made
a shark chomping on some poor swimmer. It was
actually really good. The teacher was a little
disturbed but recognized that I had some talent…
and a twisted mind!
Wars came out I was obsessed with everything
Star Wars. Like
so many of us, it really grabbed me and opened
up my imagination. I even made my Mom a Star
Wars pot for her plants, because EVERYONE
loves Star Wars
I know I love Star Wars! Hmm…
you like Jaws
and also Star Wars.
So, it is a natural that when Lucas and Spielberg
created Raiders of
the Lost Ark in 1981, you must have started
drawing that, no?
I drew a lot of Indiana Jones,
He Man, and GI
Joe too. Something about the adventure
of it all. Heroes and Villains, and excitement!
Something about it all just captivated me. Probably
to help me through the rough times in my life
then, but I tell you, it stuck, and I still love
Once I hit junior high school I
was so crazy about basketball that I started drawing
Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan on everything,
but I just couldn’t get the muscles correct.
That is when I discovered comic books. “Wow!”
I thought. Look the muscles on these guys. I figured
if I could draw super heroes, I could use that
to draw athletes. Then I came to find out that
comic artists often used athletes as references
for their art…PERFECT! So I religiously
studied and drew from my comics. I really started
to understand the way the body was put together.
Kids started going crazy for my superheroes and
I started selling copies for 25 cents each. Great
for candy and soda on the way home from school!
gag by Randy.
Once high school hit, I was kind
of all over the board, my favorite thing to draw
in the world was Caricatures of anyone. But I
was really trying to find myself (like everyone
else) so I started to do a lot more personal things…hell
I don’t even know what those things are
now, but it was heavy. College brought on an obsession
to learn how to paint and use every art tool I
Star Wars kind
of sprung back into my life and it made art fun
again for me. I varied my subject matter, but
it was all about finding work. Eventually, I think
my love for Star Wars led me to start doing official
Star Wars art professionally. Now, I do just about
anything…but with a huge love for Star Wars
and Indiana Jones!
Turning a passion into a profession
is a great thing! Is having that fan connection
make what you’re doing extra special?
I really think it does. I mean,
as a professional you always have to show up for
work and do a good job. But when you are a fan,
it adds some extra love to it. On the Topps Heroes
Sketch cards, I knew of the show, and my girlfriend
loved it. I wouldn’t say I was a fan because
I had never really seen much of the show. So I
started work on the cards and they were looking
good, but then we bought Season one on DVD. Once
I started watching the DVDs I really got in to
the show, and as a result, my sketch cards started
getting really cool and emotional.
I love Star Wars,
and have such a personal connection with it that
I can’t NOT do something from deep inside
with that subject.
sketch cards by Randy Martinez.
You mentioned drawing Indiana
Jones when you were younger. Were you excited
when you got the call from Topps to do some of
the new sketch cards for the Heritage series?
Oh yeah! I love Indiana Jones,
always have. The thing with Indy though is it
has been simmering in the back ground for a long
time. When news of a new Indy movie came around
it really brought back a lot of great old memories.
I went back and watched the films again and they
are such great fun. The Spielberg and Lucas connection
is just magical and awesome. Topps then called
out for artists to do sketch cards for both Indiana
Jones Heritage (celebrating the first 3 films)
and now Indiana Jones
and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I’ll
tell you, it has been so much fun reliving these
movies and rediscovering how much fun Indiana
Jones is to draw! I’m really proud of these
I have to ask, how do you work
in so much color into your Topps Indy cards working
on such a tiny canvas?
card by Randy Martinez.
Sometimes I honestly don’t
know. It is REALLY difficult to work so small.
Especially for me being a big guy with big hands.
The interesting thing is it kind of forces me
to stay loose. I learned early on that itty-bitty
details are impossible, so I have to rely on color
and value to kind of fool the eye. If you look
closely at my cards you’ll see a lot of
purples and blues on the oranges and yellows.
It looks cool and colorful, but when you look
at the whole piece it gives the illusion of space
and volume. It’s based a lot of what I learned
about impressionism. Degas was a master at reflective
light and color in this way. Great stuff.
I use Prisma color Markers and Pencils.
There are a lot of fine products out there, but
I have become very comfortable with the Prisma
color line of products. I use a little acrylic
paint at times, but the cards are thin and I don’t
like to warp them.
How do you capture the “spirit
of Indy” when you are working on the sketch
cards? DVDs? Movie Stills?
When I’m doing more “realistic”
or representational work references are vital.
The Indy 4 cards were especially fun because every
artist got photos from the Indiana
Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
They are marked: FOR OUR EYES ONLY! All I can
say is the pictures are great and movie looks
The “Indy Spirit”. Well,
I always have that anyway! Personally; no I don’t
put the John Williams Raiders
music on. I’m a rock and roll guy. I just
put my iTunes on random and rock out while I work.
I recently bought the newest Lenny Kravits and
Sheryl Crow Albums. Both have been awesome to
listen to as Lenny has kind of returned to form
(thank god) and Sheryl is making some really great
music…important music! She is great.
Out of all the art you have done
for the Indy Topps cards do you have certain favorite
sketch card by Randy.
Indy is always fun, but the bad
guys are great too. The new movie brings a new
bad guy in Cate Blanchett. (Russian Agent Spalko)
She is awesome. Probably one of the more interesting
people to draw from Lord
of the Rings, but now with that bob hair
cut and cold eyes in Indy
4… She’s just an awesome looking
character to draw.
Is there a trick in getting
Harrison's famous scar right when you draw him?
Funny thing is, I don’t really
focus on that. Usually just throw a line there
to show its there. Harrison Ford’s REAL
stand out characteristic is his nose. It’s
bent, and not just a little, but some how it works
on his face. If you can draw the nose, you can
draw Harrison Ford.
Well, I guess the “nose
knows”! You mentioned the Crystal
Skull anything you can tell us on your
next Topps Indiana Jones project?
Jones and the Crystal Skull cards and sketch
cards are set to release May 1 2008. I literally
just finished my cards and will be sending them
off today. I wish I could show you, but it’s
all very top secret. I can tell you that for the
base set I took a very Warhol approach. I did
144 cards and that consists of about 10 different
designs. While they are repeated images, they
are different colors. It adds some collectability
to it. If you have all four colors of one design…
it looks really cool like the Marilyn Monroe piece
Andy Warhol did.
For my return 6 (six cards that
Topps returns to each artist or the artists choice)
I did some highly rendered pieces that feature
the main characters, and a special 2 part puzzle
of the Russian villains and the Jones family.
I’m really excited!
You said you had that “Indy
spirit”, pretend you are now playing the
academic and not the adventurer. What would you
say to your students who were looking to follow
in your footsteps, or rather brushstrokes?
I find that the key to it all is
to have fun and be you. Strokes from fans are
great, but art needs to be more than that. Art
comes from your heart and is an extension of your
soul. I make a point to never create anything
that fans EXPECT from me, creating from my heart
makes that easy. Art, music, or anything creative
is so personal and to share that with people truly
takes some courage, and I think people appreciate
that. The more in touch with yourself you can
get trough your art the stronger your art will
be. Fans will come naturally, but at the heart
of it the experience is yours!
Draw, draw, draw and have fun!
More Indy art
by Randy. - Right: Three cards making one
Randy, it has been a pleasure
talking to you, and I know that Indy fans like
myself will be feverishly ripping open packs of
Indiana Jones cards to see if we can find one
of your sketch cards. If fans want to see more
of Randy’s art check out his
website and his MySpace
page to see his Indiana Jones sketch card
Be careful when you rip those packages
of cards open, you might tear an autographed George
Lucas or Harrison Ford card! Well, thank you it
has been a blast to talk about my favorite things
– drawing and movies!