Marty Winters started making art professionally while still in high school. The banners and signs he painted for the cheerleaders caught the eye of a classmate’s father, who owned a carpet company and was tired of getting parking tickets so he asked Winters to letter both sides of the van. The gig paid $35. Winters went on to attend Western Michigan University, earning a BFA in painting. “If I was smart I would have majored in something else. I had a full scholarship to any school in Michigan that would accept me. I just wasn’t interested in anything else.”
After college, Winters found an ad in the Free Press for a lettering artist. “I thought well I can do that. I’ve never done it.” Winters remembers. “I did some samples. And I got the job.” Since then Winters has worked as a sign painter and graphic artist.
In 2005, a co-worker encouraged Winters to enter some artwork into the Dirty Show. Winters entered three pieces and one was accepted. Since then his work has been shown at 555 gallery, Hatch in Hamtramck, Café 1923, and Funhouse Gallery.
Winters paints with oils on canvas. His most recent subjects have been Detroit bar signs and bags of Better Made potato chips. He chose these subjects because he wanted a Detroit connection in his work and as a sign maker he was drawn to the lettering aesthetic, plus he was already eating the chips.
Winters finds freelance design work through craigslist and as anyone who has spent too much time searching for work on the site knows, eventually the boredom sets in and you take a break to get a peek at the more salacious ads like the dating and escort pages. He was struck by the interesting compositions of the photographs used in the ads, the way the light hit the subject and the way the fabric was draped. After he started painting from these images, he found what he most enjoyed was trying to capture the light and the texture.
See Marty Winters’ art Saturday August 31 at the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival and in November at the Michigan Theatre of Jackson along with a screening of Color Me Blood Red. See a slideshow of Winters' paintings here.
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