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YOUNG GUN

Written by JENNIFER MCCULLUM

Self-taught illustrator and tattoo artist Kyler Martz’s work has captured the attention of—and major commissions from—corporations including Starbucks, Hermès, and Levi’s. His 2016 designs for a multidimensional painted mural in a Chicago Starbucks drew from the city’s nautical history.

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tattoo clients eager for a chance to emblazon their skin with his art. His signature style, mostly monochromatic sketches exploring nautical themes and inspired by illustrations from 1930s children’s books, has garnered a devoted nationwide following—and not just permanent-ink aficionados, but major corporations as well. Since teaching himself to draw (and shortly thereafter to tattoo) five years ago, Martz, a former graphic designer for an ad agency, has created onsite murals for Starbucks’ Global Art program, designed window displays for luxury French fashion house Hermès, and sketched prints for a capsule T-shirt collection with Levi’s—almost all commissions he gained as a result of his followers eagerly sharing his work on Instagram. If that sounds hard to believe, Martz feels the same way. When a Starbucks creative manager first asked him to design a mural for the company’s San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf location, the artist thought the emails were fake. “I didn’t respond to the first few. I was sure they were spam,” Martz says. “Finally, since they persisted, I met them at this shitty pizza place near my house. Once I realized they were serious and learned what they wanted me to do, I told them, ‘I’m really sorry I had you come to this place.’” When he’s not traveling the country for design projects—next up is a mural for Paul Allen’s latest renovation project in Seattle’s University District— Martz’s home base is Jackson Street Tattoo Company in Pioneer Square. But, as you can guess, you’ll need to make an appointment. h

COURTESY STARBUCKS; PORTRAIT: TRAVIS GILLETT

SEATTLE ARTIST KYLER MARTZ COULD WAKE UP TOMORROW, BOOK A FLIGHT TO NEW YORK, AND LIVE THERE FOR MONTHS WITH ALL EXPENSES PAID by a steady stream of waitlisted

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GRAY No. 35  

The DESIGN Magazine of the Pacific Northwest

GRAY No. 35  

The DESIGN Magazine of the Pacific Northwest

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