California born illustrator Martin French graduated from the Art Center College of Design and now lives in Oregon, where he serves as Illustration Chair for the new BFA Illustration program, which he helped found, at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland.
His professional work includes graphics for the Salt Lake City Olympics and the Grammy Awards; and illustrations for clients like Apple, Pepsi, Dreamworks, Time Warner, Nike, National Geographic, Scholastic and Dutton. He has received recognition from American Illustration, Communication Arts, Graphis Print, Spectrum and the Society of Illustrators, among others.
He works in what he terms “mixed media”, which looks to be largely ink and watercolor or gouache, but his work is “mixed media” in another sense. His illustrations are a beautiful integration of the disciplines of drawing, painting and design.
French carves up his image area into blocks of lively color, across which his figures appear to be splayed with effortless confidence. He then surrounds and envelops them with dazzling, energetic elements of line, color, spatter, textures, and vivid brushstrokes.
The resulting images are amazingly lively and energetic; frenetic but never chaotic, and forceful without being forced. His portrayals of musicians, singers and dancers, in particular, are ringing with graphic elements that seem to be evocations of musical textures, calligraphic ink lines suggestive of loud and soft passages and color elements that feel like swooping basslines, dashes of high notes and soaring melodies.