Martin Balsam: Always Challenge Yourself

Martin Balsam is an artist from North Little Rock, Arkansas. He appreciates simplicity and shows that with his line drawings.

20953289_298158593991959_9047782894820731621_nMartin Balsam | Little Rock, Arkansas

I am black and STARVING.

Tell us who you are and what you do!

I’m proudly known as Martin Balsam the guy who draws. I would like to think of myself as a sketch artist because of my use of pencils, charcoal and pastels. I’m from North Little Rock but mostly raised in Little Rock. I was always into drawing but never really took it serious until now. I was always told that I had talent but I thought that creating art was only for fun. In high school, I really lost motivation to make art because I either lost a sketchbook or the teacher only saw it as a grade and tossed it the trash. I started going to college for Psychology, but would catch myself doodling in my notebook instead of taking notes.

After all of the bumps in life, I finally switched my major and started focusing more on art. I’m currently attending the University of Central Arkansas studying Graphic Design, but I mainly do line drawing. I prefer simple art because I believe that light and shadow is most important, so most of my art is in black and white. I created a Facebook page to show the development of my art skills and serve as a place to receive constructive criticism and portfolio assistance.

I really don’t have much to say about myself, because everything is still in development. I’ve only been faithfully drawing for a year now. So my portfolio isn’t that big but as long as I’m drawing outside of class and keep trying new techniques, I can never fall short on advancing in the field of imagination. My personal motto is “when I know better, I’ll do better”. I can only stress that so much. Just wait on it!


What is the inspiration for your work?

As a kid, I was amazed by people that could doodle on paper, but my inspiration came mostly from my mom. When I was seven, my mom saw me struggling trying to draw my power ranger and just came over and recreated what we saw so easily. She really been the biggest supporter when it came to my art. Also friendly rivalry is always great, because seeing someone do something you would like to try is always going to keep you on your toes!

I’m also inspired by a lot of artists on Instagram. It’s always fun searching for art out there because it’s a lot of artists that are getting looked over mainly because everyone is only focusing on the artists with the most followers.

My art is 2-Dimensional. I don’t try to reach complete realism. I just want to get my ideas across. I draw any and everything. My Instagram has a very wide subject matter because I want to reach all areas of interest. My art style would be considered “line art”, which means it is made with lines only, and gradations are created by the spacing and thickness of the lines. Line art emphasizes the outline of what is trying to be represented.

My sketches aren’t intended to be “finished work”, but as an artist I’m trying to get my image across with no color or much detail, but with the use of lines only. So with saying that, I mainly use graphite (pencils) because it’s easy to manage and it looks good on paper.

What would you say to prevent an upcoming artist from making the same mistakes you have made?

“Failure is part of the growing process so just learn from your mistakes.”

Only thing I would say is to never quit practicing. As an artist you are entitled to your own style so continue to grow with what you already know. Stay Humble! We all are learning so don’t become upset when you’re unsatisfied with your work. It’s good to find people that always draw as well, because you never know what you could learn from someone or even what you can teach someone else. Just keep practicing, and practicing. It’s not hard until you make it hard. We can’t be great until we make ourselves great.

Stay challenging yourself to try new things. Never get comfortable with one medium. I encourage different things because personally art isn’t fun until it gets a little messy. That is how art advances. Failure is part of the growing process so just learn from your mistakes. I’m currently using my class assignments and projects to get better and stretch my abilities. Never stop learning!

What obstacles have you faced as a Black Artist/Business Owner? How did you overcome them?

“We all should encourage each other regardless of what profession we choose.”

As an artist, I would say that we all have the same obstacles. But the only obstacle I’ve had was when someone stole my artwork and edited it to make it seem as if it was theirs. I confronted the person and they stated that it was only for practice. But even if you’re practicing you should give credit if you know the person you’re referencing from. Also, losing confidence in myself due to envious people. I just feel that we all should encourage each other regardless of what profession we choose. It would seem that nowadays artist have become selfish, only creating work for commission instead of passion.

Stay connected with Martin:

Instagram & Twitter: martin_balsam

Pinterest & Deviant Art: martinbalsamart


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