Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene: Té Martínez

With the internet being so easy to access, it has become easier for independent artists to find an audience and let their work be known. As a result, a variety of movements, collectives, and scenes have found a way to pave their path. The independent art scene in Puerto Rico is no different. Recently, many artists from a variety of disciplines have found platforms that have made it easier for them to share their work. In addition, small businesses such as Electroshock in Santurce and Rio Piedras, bars like Off The Wall in Mayaguez, book stores like La Casita Books and Gifts in Aguadilla, Libros AC in Santurce and Libros 787 online, and independent festivals like Feria de Libros Independientes y Alternativos and Tintero: Festival de Cómics y Arte Independiente de Puerto Rico have provided up-and-coming artists a space to display their talents. “Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene” is a series of  interviews that provides a glimpse at some of the women who have recently gained recognition in the art scene. Though the artists are asked similar questions, some are asked queries surrounding their work, specifically.

Té Martínez is an illustrator from Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

What got you into visual arts?

As a kid I was always surrounded by art, music and literature, and at some point I began to develop an interest in putting on paper and colors everything I was seeing, reading, and feeling. There are also a lot of artists on my father’s side of the family, so I’m sure there must be something about that. It was common to see my family singing and playing the guitar, or to be surrounded by paintings made by people from the family. I think it was clear I was going to be a visual artist or a musician, which I also am.

How did you develop your style?

When I began drawing, there was a lot of inspiration from my father, who has been my main teacher, and his aunt, Maíca. She was an amazing artist who would paint lots of her illustrations with watercolor, sometimes in a very simple and minimal way, so one day I bought my first set and started there. I usually seek harmony in the composition when I’m drawing. Maybe that’s why I draw a lot of women and flowers; because I think both go well with the subtlety of watercolors.



How has it evolved through the years?

From some time now, I have noticed that most of my recent drawings come from some kind of struggle I’m going through at the moment, or if there is an emotion I need to understand. There’s an urge of “putting a face” to whatever is going through my mind. Sometimes it’s easier to understand some things when you look at them from afar, and maybe that’s the reason why my work has been more inclined to feelings lately.

What are some of your influences and inspirations?

Aside from literature, films (Wes Anderson is my favorite) and lots (AND LOTS) of music. My main inspirations are works from my favorite illustrators, who are: Luisa Rivera (Chile), Mya Pagán (Puerto Rico), María Hesse (Spain), Eva Carot (Spain), Guanina Cotto (Puerto Rico), and Pernille Ørum (Denmark).


Is there any other form of art you wish to pursue? If so, what field and why?

I just started to try digital art and I’m really enjoying it. I hope to keep improving and eventually try out animation. The making of concept art is another field I’m really interested in. I’m not that much of a gamer, but it’s all Bloodborne and God of War’s fault.


What do you think about the current state of the arts in Puerto Rico?

It’s amazing to see so many young artists taking a step forward into the arts in Puerto Rico, even when it is not that simple to live from it or to get known. As someone who sees art as a communication tool, a way to expose and canalize emotions and thoughts, every day I see artists expressing and pointing out their opinions through visual arts. There’s a voice in that, and it’s getting louder every day.



What do you think about the current state of the independent scene in Puerto Rico?

If there is something good the internet has brought us is the opportunity to put ourselves out there and promote our work. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult because you have to do your own job, make it evolve, play with it to see if this or that works best, and there is a lot of competition. But it’s not impossible. Even with all of that, here on the Island, you can see artists giving each other a hand, and that’s awesome.


If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be an artist, what would be your advice for her?

Go for it and keep practicing. It will not be easy, it won’t always be successful, you will drop a tear or two, and you will feel like a failure at some point. But you will keep improving, and it will pay off, and you will meet great people along the way, and experience some of the greatest moments of your life. Just keep practicing and GO FOR IT.



What is your biggest goal right now?

Apart from reducing my frustrations when dealing with digital art, I’m in the middle of writing a story, which I’m also illustrating, so right now that’s my main goal; to finish it, and eventually publish it.

What do you seek to achieve with work?

I hope to live from this, and be able to travel. There is way too much inspiration all over the world.


All of the pictures in this article were provided by Té Martínez