My parents are my biggest influence.

   DAD (architect)
+ MOM (pianist and composer)
= ME (& my interest in art and music)

And having that configuration, the following life path happened.

  • B.A. from Edgecliff College (emphasis in Oil Painting)
  • Art Educator (and some teaching of music & English) for 9 years, grades 1 - 12
  • M.Ed. from Xavier University (emphasis in Graphic Design)
  • Started Martens’ Art in 1989 as a full-time venture
  • Adjunct Professor at Xavier University (while I worked at Martens’ Art).  10 years teaching Advanced Graphic Design, and Digital Techniques for Fine Artists
Click for the fun details if you like!

The First Real Job — Included here for its irony.

For the summer after high school graduation, I delivered 3rd-class mail — the door-to-door kind —to save moola for college.

Not knowing my age, 17, was too young for the job, I got hired anyway. They laughed as they said I looked so "straight" that they were sure they could trust me. I did not realize most folks there were ex- (or current) cons.

The delivery part was all-right, but the people I worked with (not the college prep set) provided me with an education in hard luck life. 'Nuff said. Things improved when I overheard the manager discussing an in-house advertising newspaper they would create and deliver. I convinced them to let me design and "paste it up". They agreed.

It worked out well, thanks to my high school newspaper experience. It got me off the streets, and into the design biz. When I left, I never thought I would create a publication again.  

Edgecliff College, Bachelor of Arts (emphasis in oil painting & eduction)

Undergrad was heaven.

Surrounded by like-minded, serious art students in a castle on the edge of a cliff, we worked our butts off to turn into artists. Not an easy school, being lead by those who understood that being an artist was not a skill. It is not how to draw an apple, but a lifestyle. How you process what you see, as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.

At my core, in everything I do, this is the wiring I have.

Like many, I worked my way through school. I include these jobs because of how important they were to me.

  1. At first, I washed dishes and cleaned floors in the school cafeteria. This was a great deal; workers got free food along with the free humility.
  2. After a few months of that, I taught arts and crafts (for four years) to urban kids at the LeBlond Boy's Club. More about this in my awards section, but truly a Great Experience.
  3. I installed art at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center. Got offered that job by the director after doing an interview of him for the school newspaper. I just could not turn it down, and did work two part-time jobs at the same time.

I was a busy little guy in college, but I think I got my money's worth.

Xavier University, Masters in Education (emphasis in Graphic Design)

Why XU graduate school? I heard University of Cincinnati was easy, and going pursuing their Master's in Art Education just did not seem interesting.

With a Masters in Education (very different) I could take regular art courses, vs art education courses. I guess I am an art snob.

While picking classes I noticed, "Well look, I can take Graphic Design. My urban art student's would like this stuff." Ha. Being at this site, you know the outcome.

I could not take enough design, and my love affair with grids and typography was set in stone — well, set in lead to be precise — from class day one.

I finished the Masters', and requested and received a year off from my teaching job to explore my creative options. Sculpture or Design? I did both for a year, and Design won. Well, it paid better, and I realized: my dream just might be: helping others achieve their dreams.

Xavier University Department of Art, Adjunct Professor

Six years after starting Martens' Art I missed teaching.

I felt good about my business, and enjoyed the distinction of being one of the first digital designers in Cincinnati. Folks came to my office just to look at that first big color Radius monitor! How amazing. And the first scanner for the Mac, too.

The Xavier Art department needed a design teacher to fill in for a teacher on sabbatical, and asked me. Woo! Knowing my business, they asked,"By the way, can you teach something about the computer, too?" That one semester turned into ten WONDERFUL years. I developed a curriculum into a multiple year course-of-study integrating graphic design and digital media.