Samrin Martin is a 23-year-old freelance visual artist and curator as well as makeup artist. She was born and raised in the Lawrenceville and Lilburn area of Georgia. She received her bachelor’s degree in public relations and minor in communications studies at the University of Georgia in Athens. While Martin grew up in Georgia most of her life, her parents are from Bangladesh, and their culture is significant in shaping her. Because of Martin’s diligence, passion, and experiences, she is a role model for women, especially for women of color. I recently had the honor of interviewing Samrin Martin and enjoyed learning about her and her talent as an artist.
What inspired you to start doing art?
“My grandmother inspired me, but since I was little, I always enjoyed drawing. The feeling I got from drawing always gave me so much freedom. I always saw my grandmother and mother drawing as I grew up, but it always came from within”.
What was your first piece?
“My first piece on a canvas was this crazy, ugly green monster. I was in the 7th grade, sad and depressed. My parents were fighting a lot, and I had a lot of built up anger. So, I started painting a monster with big, yellow eyes, and tears coming out of it.”
What is your favorite art piece, and why?
“The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michaelangelo. It’s so detailed and intricate. I love angels. They make me so happy.”
What is your favorite art of yours?
“Dissociated is a painting I made last year. It’s an abstract piece of mine I made when I was stressing about graduating. A family friend bought it at my last show.”
Does your art have any important meanings?
“Venuses and silhouettes represent femininity and allow me to express my sexuality as a bisexual WOC. Women are so powerful and amazing. Of course, my art also conveys my emotions and what I’m going through. I love using bright colors, because they make me feel alive. Plants, lotuses, and succulents intrigue me. My pieces represent life. I also do a lot of line work with ink, pen, and paper. They end up being a train of thought with random shit, like flowers and eyes.”
What materials do you like to use most? Are there any colors you are most drawn to?
“I started out using acrylic and regular canvas. But now, I’ve been using oil paint and wooden panels. But oil paint gets messy sometimes. I’m enamored with sculpting using air-drying clay. I’ve been trying to get into it, but it takes a lot of time. My favorite colors to play around with are red, blue, and purple.”
What was a challenge you had to face as an artist?
“I had a lot of backlash from doing this. In college, my confidence always wavered, because I was confused with what I wanted to do with my life, not sure if my degree was going to do anything. I knew art was something I wanted to do, but there were around me always doubted it, saying that art is competitive. I used to think, ‘What would people think?’ if I actually seriously pursued it in college. It made me doubt myself. I would constantly compare myself to other artists but learned not to, because each art and style is different [and unique]. I also struggled with figuring out how to get started and get into the art community. But in February, my friend sent me a flyer for an art show.”
What was a memorable experience you had?
“My first art show I attended. I was 22, about to be 23, in a safe space with like-minded individuals who also create beautiful things. I felt like I was completely in my element, and it’s one of my happiest memories to date. So many people there were supporting me, and it was the first time I was able to showcase my art in a public place.”
On your Instagram bio, it says you are also a makeup artist. That’s amazing! What made you want to do makeup for others?
“I used to be a freelancer for Chanel for three and a half years (2015-2018), and then I did it for Clinique. I always did freelance for UGA fashion show and weddings as well. And it [makeup] actually led the way to my art. [In addition], I always struggled with cystic acne and was bullied in middle school, leading to low self-esteem and depression. I started puberty early at nine and broke out when I was twelve. I had that acne for two to three years and was on Proactive in 8th grade. I got severe cystic acne during my sophomore and junior year in high school, and at that time the only way I felt like I had the courage to leave the house without the fear of being bullied, was makeup. I started doing Halloween makeup during my senior year of high school and even painting seriously. My acne got better due to birth control. In college, it [acne] got so bad because of stress. I started putting on so much makeup and felt so sad about myself. I knew I was beautiful but hated the skin I was in. My dermatologist gave me a medication that helped me and cleared my skin completely. I also figured out that I was allergic to dairy [causing acne]. Makeup made me feel beautiful. In a way, my acne and self image issues connected me closer to my artistic side, because makeup was my gateway towards art.”
We recently talked about how we both love makeup. We both view it as a form of art and how our faces are like canvases. Why do you think society thinks differently?
“I think the media distorts everything. This isn’t the case for all people who have mixed to negative views on makeup or the cosmetic industry. Society has created a systematic culture where women are oppressed by unrealistic beauty standards, race, and financial equity. Rape culture is a huge factor. Some people base how women are dressed or how they’re wearing makeup determines that they’re promiscuous or ‘easy’. If I go out with a full-face I get told things like, ‘less is more’ or the infamous, ‘I like when women have the natural makeup look’. Well guess what? No one fucking asked what you like. I love the skin I’m in right now, and that’s all the approval I need. Women don’t need to appease the male gaze.”
We went to UGA together. Do you feel like college helped you in anyway?
“Honestly, the only thing I learned from college was how to have my own mindset and to live on my own, to an extent. [I got] the chance to have an independent thought, and know there’s people like me. My major did help me learn how to communicate with people professionally and market myself. I also had culture shock because the high school I went to was diverse. School did not help me with my art.”
As a freelance artist, have you ever experienced stereotypes or backlash from friends and family for your career choice? What do you think we can do to change societal stereotypical viewpoints on artists?
“We just need to be more open about ourselves. A lot of the problems come from our own insecurities as an artist. When I introduced myself, especially working in retail, I was confused of how to introduce myself [my job]. Own your shit and represent yourself the way you see yourself. Have confidence, and grow out of the mindset that people will judge you. Another great thing is collaboration. Work with people like yourself. It shows yourself and other people that you are working with someone else to elevate yourself. This will eliminate these stereotypes.”
Let’s talk about your last art show, Metamorphosis. What made you think of that name? And how did it go?
“This art show was fate. Since I was younger, I always loved butterflies and caterpillars, and interested in Metamorphosis. I always thought of myself as an ugly duckling who turned into a swan. Metamorphosis represented my growth. I did a total 180! The flyer has a butterfly in space and starry skies. Space represents no bounds; we can go anywhere we want. We went over goal of ticket sales.”