This month’s Featured Visual Artist: Roy Martinez
Roy Martinez was born in Chicago, IL in 1984, raised in Tejas, and currently residing in Los Angeles. First Generation Mexican Zacatecanx-American born, queer, genderfuk. Interdisciplinary artist, with disciplines ranging from ceramics, sculpture, screen printing, and on-site installations. Concentrating on cultural identity, gender identity, sexuality, femme-ness, oppression within US society via pop culture/representation, domesticity, death, ritual, and technology in relation to art production/accessibility [[to name a few]]. They also run an online store that carries different items; ranging from artist produced zines and prints, to their own lyfestyle brand: Lambe Culo. They have received their BFA from CalArts ‘16 and MFA in 2018.
Color Bloq Visual Arts Editor, Guerrilla Davis: Welcome Roy! Whats good? Hows your day going?
Roy Martinez: It’s pretty chill. Kind of busy running around, getting ready for my Pop-Up show tonight and printing tees for orders placed on my online store Casa Lambe Culo. Its pretty DIY (Do It Yourself) and made to order, as to not overproduce.
GD: Your alias, and your store name” Casa Lambe Culo,” What does it mean? How did that come to be?
RM: It’s the name of my online store, and it has a double meaning. I’m all about duality. It means “rimming” but also could be taken as another form of “kiss my ass.” At the time, I was doing digital work and posting it on social media. I took a mentorship with Harry Gamboa at school, and since he's a photographer and punk, I decided to show it to him. He was really into it and told me that should be my name. Because it’s also spelled wrong in spanish, which is one thing a lot of Mexicans say about Mexicans from the U.S., that we speak mocho (broken spanish), so it relates in so many levels.
GD: Tell us about you and your background. How do you identify?
RM: I'm in the 1st generation to be born on this side of the border from Mexican parents. I was born in chicago, grew up en Tejas, and moved to Califas to finish school (which I did in May). I I.D. as Xicanx, Femme, Marica, Genderfuck, Ponx, and generally they/them - Although I would be flattered with She/Her. I’m used to He/Him.
GD: What kind of art / mediums do you practice?
RM: I’m concentrated on exploring Re-Appropriation, Cultural and Gender Identity, Sexuality, Queer Domesticity... Death, Ritual, and Technology as a way to empower people of color navigating a white supremacist state. My practice generally ranges from Ceramics, Digital, Screen Printing, and on-site Installations.
GD: What’s your favorite color and why?
RM: Magenta, haha. Iit does something to the cones in my eyes, and for me, it also radiates Love and a type of bold softness.
GD: Where do you find inspiration? What values or experiences inform your art and your presentation style?
RM: Spaces, for sure. Also the ranch that my parents are from. I was fortunate enough to be able to transgress the border every summer growing up, so I was always in this nepantla state of in-betweenness. That really fucked with me, and I feel as though my art is a product of that subjectivity and experience, which I hope other Xicanx and POC can relate to.
GD: I can see you live that real artist hustle. I’m in that same boat - doing multiple creative gigs at any given time, instead of having one main job that pays the bills.
RM: Yeah… I’d love the stable income, but this is what it is right now.
GD: What does a typical day look like for you?
RM: I start my day at 10am and see what orders I have because I don’t buy tees in bulk. I generally wait a couple days before going to buy tees. I go buy tees in the fashion district, bring ‘em home, and start printing to make post office by 5pm. After that I usually just chill, sketch, watch movies, chill out really. I have another pop up show on Saturday for Noche De Travesuras at the Last in DTLA, and a group show on the 29th and 30th at Descontrol Punk Shop, and another at Tom of Finland in October, so for the next few weeks I’ll be preparing for those to. I try to take different merch to each pop up or event, just to keep it fresh.
GD: Thats hot. What’s your favorite piece of merch?
RM: I haven't released them yet..but my Cinto Harnesses are my fave. And what has sold most have been my sign tees. "DEMATERIALIZE THE POLICE" "FUCK ICE" and "ABOLISH STATE SANCTION VIOLENCE"
GD: I love those tees. They are my fave! I remember seeing someone here in Oakland at a Club Chai party at Trash Palace wearing one of your tees - I thought it was so dope seeing your work out here in the Bay. What inspired you to make those?
RM: Primarily current events, the fascism we’re living under, continue to live under white supremacy, but also the streets, ads/signs, pop culture, etc… I also think that a lot of times, QTPOC bodies are always politicized, and these tees are also a type of subserversion to that. First, to be POC, especially black and brown within this system, carries a type of politics. You can see the prisi industrial system and who it affects. To be a Latinx / Indigenous womxn means you aren the least of all demographics. To be queer, means your life is in constant danger - primarily trans people of color. These are just SOME of the many aspects by which our bodies get politicized, whether we like it or not.
And like, I’m aware that by wearing a tee, it’s not gonna erase generational trauma, but at least it subverts the idea of using our bodies to make a very visible statement, without even uttering a word… At least a little.
GD: Damn, thats hella real. I think it takes a lot of guts to make a tee like that and then wear it in public, and have others able to wear it in public… It’s dope. A lot of artists have a lot of feelings, but I feel like your work actually have something to say, something that’s relevant and relatable, and not so specific and inaccessible that it becomes excluding or exclusive - I really appreciate that.
RM: Aw, gracias.
GD: What are some of your major challenges as a visual artist?
RM: Nowadays, socializing and networking is important when you are trying to expose your art, so I think that because I’m an introvert in real life and have a resting bitch face, that people usually view me as unapproachable. Don’t get me wrong, I like social gatherings and networking, but in L.A. there is always something going on which can be overwhelming in itself. That's why I also focus on using social media platforms that allow some access to my practice and a broad range of audience without having to always be materialized in real life and my energy drained. Ultimately, its self care is the most important.
GD: What is one of your major accomplishments or most memorable moments as a visual artist?
RM: I just got my Masters in Art in May, and although I’m still in this post-grad haze, I’m glad to know I came out of that mind fuck alive. My MFA was a pretty big thing, just cause it took me going to school 14 years off and on to get it. Also, im the first to attempt going to college in my immediate familiy. It was definitely a mind fuck, and a financial grace (as of 9/29... LOL).
A memorable moment was finding out Harry Gamboa Jr, Co-Founder of Asco taught at my school. Then a couple years ago, he took my portrait for his ongoing series “Chicano Male Unbounded” which Gerardo Velazquez of Nervous Gender is a part of.
Asco was a very conceptual Chicana/o art collective that was active from 1978-1984 I believe. They did performance, film, photography… They were the very first time i saw people with the same backgrond as me - Mexican-American, doing similar stuff that i’m used to seeing with my friends now. So they were definetly an inspiration to me. And Gerardo Velazquez is a Queer Chicano from LA and played in Nervous Gender, a conceptional electronic punk band.
Another memorable moment was when I got featured by Vice MX. My friend Sandra Blow was contracted by Vice to do a shoot and interview for a story. I was in Mexico City at that time, so she asked me if I’d be down to do it, and yeah we hung out it did it. It’s a highlight article in honor of Pride month in Mexico City. Sandra took the subject pictures, and asked questions about how we identify, what we do, what love is, what self love looks for us…. You can find the article here.
GD: Tell us about the pieces you are featuring with us on ColorBloq.org.
RM: So the pieces I sent are current werks done this year. My focus right has a lot to do with memory, distortions, and pop culture....
"when will our emotional labor b compensated" piece is inspired by facebook posting background edits..except here its a 40" x 40" digital print, which also pushes the large format printer by having vibrant colors without glitches.
The 2nd is a porcelain cast of a squirt bottle that I turned into a pipe.
The 3rd, Im modeling pieces of my latest collection - Cinto Harnesses that fuses workwear Dickies, with Ruffles (generally found in dresses and particularly rituals like Quinceañeras and weddings).
"Mi Bida Marica" is a tag on a brick wallpapered panel. Distorting reality was my inspiration behind this piece, along with the sculpture of roses as symbolism for alternate economies that I’m used to navigating.
The install with the clothes is my concept store featuring the custom made apparel like the Cinto Harnesses, the Squirt bottle pipes, and my FUCK ICE graphic tees.
The reclining nude is in reference to art history, but also current events, and looking into how the queer brown femme bodies often gets politicized/exoticized.
Lastly the sarape harness, references a type of bondage of layered cultures. Mexican, but also queer, and again interested in the idea of domestication, and the fetishization of domestication.
GD: I see from your work, you find inspiration exploring the gender binary and chicanx culture - like your work with the Dickies, a staple peice of mens work/hoodwear, paired with the ruffles.
RM: Yeah, the interesting part is I’ve seen dickies used in a few ways within my immediate family. I saw my Abuelo (grandfather) working in the land in dickies, so in that context it was workwear. But I also saw it with my siblings and cousins growing up on the Southside of Chicago - that was more related to Barrior Wear. So I’m trying to rethink them in a way that I was a gender non-conforming person would wear them. So that's kind of the inspiration for them, and in a broader sense it deals with sexuality, gender expression, and culture, which is what I navigate on the daily, just existing… Cor[oral reality is weird sometimes, and I guess i'm also exploring the different ways in which what i wear can “say” something about who i am, or potentially could be.
GD: Are there any upcoming projects or shows that we should be on the look out for?
RM: On September 22, I’ll have a pop up at Noche de Travesuras at The Lash in DTLA. On September 27th and 28th, I’ll be part of a group show at the Descontrol Punk Shop at 1725 E 7th Street in LA. And on October 6th & 7th, I’ll have work up at the Tom House: Tom of Finland (a dedicated to protect, preserve, document and educate the public about erotic art and erotic artists) at 1421 Laveta Terrace, LA.
GD: If theres anything you want the world to know, what is it?
RM: Be. Just be. Be your authentic self, or a much of your authentic self you feel comfortable sharing. I feel like Art was a good way for me to know my authentic self and express it, and it still is. How you dress can be expression, as well as performance, drawing, painting. It's important to be our authentic selves because to me, its a form of liberation.
GD: Where can we find you? (website, social media, etc…)
RM: IG: casa_lambe_culo & mi tiendita lambeculo.com
Guerrilla Davis: Hope you don't mind if i edit a little bit here and there, just to formalize the interview a little more.
Roy Martinez: sorryyy...I generally don't do a lot of grammar editing..just cus i id as ponx and well professionalism is kinda classist.. lol but I understand
Guerrilla: i fuck with that. u a real one.
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