Artist Interviews 2024

Martial Yapo  
By Johnny Otto

Can you tell us about your background and how you became interested in art?

I hail from Normandy, France, born in 1980 to parents of Ivorian, West African descent. My fascination with art dates back to my earliest memories. Since childhood, I've been drawn to sketching various subjects such as cars, manga, women, and fashion. My sister, herself an artist, proved to be a significant influence and mentor, imparting invaluable insights into the world of art.

How would you describe your artistic style and has it changed over the years?

Over the years, my artistic style has undergone significant evolution. Initially exploring diverse forms ranging from comics to graffiti, I eventually gravitated towards a synthesis of African artistic heritage and contemporary European influences. This transition coincided with a deeper exploration of my African roots, which became integral to my artistic expression, blending traditional African art with the techniques gleaned from my studies in architecture.

Who are some artists that have influenced you?

Several artists have profoundly shaped my artistic journey. Frida Kahlo's emotive and narrative-driven works, Jean-Michel Basquiat's fusion of graffiti and painting, and figures such as Enki Bilal, Christo, and Ousmane Sow have all left an indelible mark on my creative ethos, each contributing elements that resonate with my own artistic vision.  

Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into a creative mindset?

I don't adhere to rigid rituals or routines to induce creativity; rather, I create when inspiration strikes. Carrying a sketchbook with me at all times enables me to capture fleeting moments of inspiration, ensuring they aren't lost to the passage of time. This flexibility in approach serves as the closest semblance to a creative ritual for me.

How do you know when a piece is finished?

Recognizing when a piece is complete is an intuitive process. It entails achieving a balance wherein the aesthetic elements - colors, shapes, strokes - harmonize and effectively convey the intended narrative. Over my two decades of experience as a painter, I've honed this instinct, discerning when a piece has reached its artistic zenith.

What challenges do you face as an artist?

The challenges inherent in the life of an artist are manifold. Beyond the creative aspect lies the pragmatic reality of navigating the art business: ensuring recognition and fair valuation of one's work, maintaining a steady income stream, and strategically exhibiting in venues that align with one's target audience. While these challenges may seem daunting, they imbue the artistic journey with a sense of fulfillment, each success a testament to perseverance and belief in one's vision.

How do you overcome creative blocks or periods of low inspiration?

I don't perceive creative blocks as periods of diminished inspiration but rather as opportunities for further exploration and study. Whenever I encounter obstacles in my creative process, I view them as signals to delve deeper, to seek out the answers that will propel my work forward.

What is coming up for you? Any shows/Fairs? 

Presently, I'm preparing for exhibitions in Orange County, slated for the end of May and beginning of June, followed by one in San Francisco at the end of June, and another in Los Angeles later in the summer. These exhibitions represent exciting opportunities to showcase my latest work and forge connections with audiences across different locales.

Copyright 2024 / Art Squat /