Inside the Studio

Martin Duvander

Favorite material to work with?
Acrylics, spray paint, photographs, pencil, oil sticks, wall paper paste, glue. I honestly don’t want to be held down and only use one medium. I like to explore, so I use everything I can find under the sky. I will often buy colors that I would never normally like just to challenge myself to use them.

How many years as an artist?
My whole life, but I started being full time a couple of years ago. My background is in currency trading. I once traded 1.5$ billion dollars against the Aussie dollar and moved the whole market. I have never felt such an adrenaline rush.

What themes do you pursue?
To change the world using my art in all of its forms through events like the Rainbow Crosswalk, garnering support for the Turkish composer Fazil Say, who earlier this year faced 18 months in jail for being an atheist, or through my book project, The Book of Happiness. This is an art project I am doing together with Danish Red Cross to enlighten people about happiness while at the same time raising money for a good cause. 

I intend to work along charities in the future, since I am still independent and no gallery takes 50% of my sales. I would rather donate that 50% to a charity or good cause. It makes me feel really blessed that I have an ability to help other people in need because I have been both rich and poor, and I know how it feels to starve.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Paint what you love, love what you paint.

Where is your studio?
At Stoney End Ranch, Three Rivers, California owned by fashion mogul Tonny Sorensen. Three Rivers is a small town in central California where lots of artists, actors and musicians live. People here are super nice and I feel like it is a small piece of paradise here on earth.

Art school or self-taught?
Self-taught. It started with me going to Venice, Italy as a kid and I was so excited I wanted to take pictures of it. Back then a camera was an expensive toy, so my art teacher told me to paint everything I saw. And so I did. My mom still holds on to those paintings like it was a Picasso.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
Music, preferably classical or opera while painting. While assembling canvases I like old school hip hop/rap (don’t ask).

Where can we find you outside of the studio?
At the beach playing volleyball, walking my dog, riding quads or dirt bikes, or shooting skeet golf. ( )

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
Most likely go back to being a currency trader. It was a huge adrenaline kick!

Favorite contemporary artist?
Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Day job?
I am an artist-in-residence at Tonny Sorensen Ranch. With his support, I do not need a day job but can focus 100% on my art.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
A Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Use anything other than paint?
I see the world as a canvas. Art can transform anything and everything for the better or worse depending whom is using the brush. My goal is to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Like the Rainbow Crosswalks in West Hollywood. It was a beacon for a world where we are all equal. Another fun fact, you can actually see the Rainbow Crosswalks from space with Apple Maps.

What do you collect?

Who are your favorite writers?
Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Edward Gibbon, anyone whom can teach me something new, as I very rarely read fiction.

Is painting dead?
No. Only the day passion, love, and humanity dies will art die. And I hope that will stick around for a long time.

Favorite brush?
I mostly use my hands, I feel closer to the painting and have a better feel for it. I can better feel all the small nuances and contrasts. It’s a bitch to wash hands afterwards, though, and I’ve gone through many t-shirts and jeans as I tend to paint at any given moment. Sometimes I paint after coming home 2 AM in the morning after drinking a million beers. I wake up and I look like I had a fight with the paints.

Palette knifes?
Sometimes. But only if I am looking for that sharp, edgy look of something destroyed.

Monet or Manet?
Tough one, but leaning towards Monet.