Conversations with Martin Sanchez of Smart Shark Designs

February 5th, 2021

Martin Sanchez: An Artist Inspired By Hawaii's Diverse Nature

Who is the artist behind our new mermaid towel?

We met Martin a few months back at a local Hawaiian market in Kona. The bright colors of his artwork drew us into his tent and we couldn't leave until we had a handful of stickers to cover our truck windows. It wasn't enough to satisfy our appetites, so we ended up in his studio a few weeks later to pick up something for our walls as well. It came as no surprise that his artwork is inspired by the Hawaiian land and lifestyle. He has a great love and respect for the land, water and it's sea life. It all started with a gift of an Ipad Pro his old boss gave him. He started doodling images full of color and put them on stickers. A lot of the local shops began stocking them in their shops to sell to tourists and he could barely keep up with the demand! It wasn't until the pandemic hit that he started painting with acrylics on canvas...and then it all got real crazy!

We wanted to know more about this colorful mind and sat down to ask the most important life questions;

Surf-fur: What's your favorite color? 

Martin: I am torn between Cereulean blue and kings blue, but red looks so good when it's first squirt out of the tube. I am also really into pink right now. I also like dark lapis and oxford blue. I like color.

Surf-fur: Are you an ocean or land guy?

Martin: Well, I am a trail runner and I really love the trees. I did the Lavaman two years in a row which is a race with a one mile swim, 20 mile bike, and a 6 mile run. I did it as a relay with two other people. Our first year we got fourth place! I am afraid of the ocean so I would say I am a land guy.

Surf-fur: What is your favorite medium?

Martin: Acrylics and, well, I love Koa wood, but I keep going back to canvas. Koa wood is my second favorite. There are a lot of things that you can't take from the island like volcanic rock and plants, but you can take Koa wood. If you sand it down and add color it's so pretty.

Surf-fur: Why are you afraid of the ocean?

Martin: It's just so huge! I am a person who likes control and I feel out of control in the ocean. I have gone snorkeling in 35 feet of water and was mesmerized by what I saw underwater. I would forget to breathe if I went down. I won't go alone and I bring my pool noodle.

Surf-fur: Yeah, you should never dive alone anyway. And remember to breathe. That's important.

Martin: And I am always looking for that dark shadow in the water at the beach. When I took my niece to the beach, I was looking at the shadows in the water and then I would run up to the lifeguard and make sure he has seen what I see and they are always rays or something. I freak myself out!

Surf-fur: Is there anything else you want people to know about your art?

I take inspiration from the land so I need to give back to it. Wild Hawaii.org devotes itself to protecting native species and cleans up the water and land. Every sale of one of my paintings equals a donation to this organization.

To pratice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.
- Kurt Vonnegut

What's next for Martin?

Martin's next collection will be all about dreams inspired by, of course, "all his weird dreams." You can check them out soon on his social media platforms or message him to see what stickers he has available. They sell out super fast so get on the list!

Written by Cynthia Issel

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