Copyright © Artisan Blacksmith Clark Martinek. All rights reserved.
- Clark Martinek
I’ve always been drawn to art’s creative process and working with metal encourages this and gives me the power to harness some of the oldest art techniques known to man. If not for the inspiring talents of metal workers and blacksmiths, which date back thousands of years, we wouldn’t have the evolution of iron we now see in the 21st century. I believe it is why we are who we are today.
Being able to create my own tools as well as create formative art is very appealing to me. It gives me the ability to create freely, proving traditional and historical blacksmith techniques can be used in today’s modern society. Having access to modern-day tools while holding true to the time-honored quality and craftsmanship of blacksmiths before me makes my sculptural work unique and interpretive.
Metal is not an easy medium. Because iron is so hard to manipulate, it demands dedication in order to make it move properly. But once the final product is achieved, it is very rewarding. I am loyal to metal for these reasons. I also enjoy the feeling of harnessing the techniques that have been used for thousands of years with this material. Being a blacksmith and working with metal puts the blacksmith in a position of constant learning - something that keeps me interested.
Once an iron item is complete, I enjoy the freedom to complement it with natural elements as long as these don’t overpower the idea within the iron. Three elements are the foundation of many things in life: wood, iron and rock. For this reason, I often incorporate these items into my work.
I’ve had no formal training to be an artist and for years believed the title limited to those who had earned an art degree; I was never comfortable with the term “artist.” Then one day I realized I might be one. I noticed there was structure to my creative process. I felt an overwhelming desire to learn more about the metal I had worked with for so long. I wanted to find different ways to make it do things people said it couldn’t do. My ideas turned to doodles, doodles to detailed drawings, and drawings to real-life items. It was then I felt it safe to call myself an artist.
One thing I want people to know and take from my art is if you believe in yourself, work hard, and learn all you can about the craft you want to pursue, anything is possible - you might even turn heads while doing it.
My desire to work with metal in new and endless ways, my blacksmith mentors, and my need to create is why I am where I am today, a long way from the young workforce welder I once was. Though my hands still get dirty and I still work long hard hours, I now work for myself, for my family, and towards the idea of educating the younger generation about finding balance in art and life. I believe that’s what life is really about.