Martyn McKenzie - Painter/Visual artist


When I first met Martyn, when we were both much younger but less handsome men, it was when he was playing drums in a local metal band. 

Since then he's become a folk musician, graduated from art school in Edinburgh, become a multi-medium artist and became desperately passionate about taking art outside of the gallery world and to a much a wider audience. 

I guess some people just can't sit still...

Martyn's passion for art is so genuinely sincere it's both endearing and infectious. Given my default sense of being is to talk about anything with a self-aware smirk on my face and sneer in my voice, it's done me a world of good to talk about being creative with someone whose passion is so pure. 

Kinda makes me sound a little childish in comparison when I think about it...

Regardless, discussing the creative process on such a philosophical level, not only gave me the chance to exercise my undergrad degree, but also the opportunity to deconstruct my own process and compare it with Martyn's.

I can't describe just how valuable that has been to furthering my own approach to art. This project wouldn't be in the form it is without some of those discussions. Make of that what you will. 

One fascinating aspect of Martyn's approach is his focus on craft. The painting in the lead photograph in this page is a study done just about 20 minutes from blank page to finished article. That sort of pace only produces that sort of quality when someone is a genuine master of their craft.

The speed of the 21st century has eroded the idea of craft to an extent. And I'm a serious culprit of that. I've had hundreds of photos not cut it full screen but know their lack of pin sharp focus doesn't matter on Instagram. The likes come in either way. 

But by giving in to that temptation, I might well be doing my own work a disservice. I can't imagine Martyn would ever do that and spending time with has been influential on me in that regard. 

That and his moustache is pretty cool too. 

Martyn is reaching back into Inverclyde, despite studying in Edinburgh and now living in Glasgow, because he draws a lot of inspiration from here and believes others who too should be encouraged. 

He's right. Small town communities shouldn't become barren beds for artists who can't find access to help, guidance, space or programs to help them develop. The arts should not be exclusive. 

Artists like Martyn are going to be the missing link between the openness of the 21st century and the craft of the centuries that came before. There's never been a better time for such a change to come. 

You can find out more about Martyn and his work at