Recognized as an innovator in his field, Dylan Martinez explores the reflective and refractive properties of glass, while pushing the boundaries of human perception. His playful, hyperreal sculptures are collected and exhibited internationally and have been featured publications like Elle Decor UK and Interior Design Magazine.
We spoke to Martinez about the fascinating process behind his work—check out the interview below.
Tell us about your background. When did you start creating art?
I grew up working summers with my father who was a stone mason. In college I studied physical sciences and outdoor education. I took glass blowing as an elective my junior year and found my passion. In many ways working with glass is both a combination of science and art.
After about 7 years of working for other glass artists I went to graduate school for glass. It was during that time that I innovated my creative process towards sculpture and focused less on technical mastery of utilitarian forms.
How would you describe your studio?
Creating hot glass art requires a couple separate studio spaces, a hot shop and a cold shop. The hot shop is where the glass furnace, reheating chambers, and annealers are housed. The furnace and reheating holes operate at around 2300 degrees Fahrenheit and the annealers around 900 degrees. The room is often hot and loud from the roar of the burners. In this studio, the glass is melted, blown, and sculpted. I always work with an assistant in the hot shop to create my sculptures.
Once the glass is shaped and cooled, the artworks go into the cold shop for further processing. The cold shop is where we cut, grind, polish, and engrave the glass at room temperature. Each process requires its own piece of equipment. This room is often loud as well due to the heavy machinery used to process the glass.
Outside of those two shops, I have a separate space for photographing work and packaging and shipping.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by a lot of things, many of which never get translated obviously into my work. I am often inspired while being in nature and observing natural phenomena. It’s often the way light can transform an object or environment in unexpected ways. It’s more so that sense of wonder that you get when you see something surprising and often overlooked that fuels my work. I strive to discover ways in which I can manipulate glass to create that feeling in the viewer.
How has your work evolved over the years?
The first several years of my practice were focused on learning and refining utilitarian forms and patterns. After about 8 to 10 years my approach to creating shifted into making work that is meant to evoke something more than a beautiful form. Making clean, refined work is still an important part of my creations, but I’ve been inspired by the endless opportunities in glass to create something new. I’ve shifted to exploring sculpting and assembly of cold glass pieces, and even using recycled lenses to create my work. As someone who is colorblind, it’s been refreshing to step away from using color and really celebrate clear glass.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not sculpting?
I love to be active in the outdoors. I live in the Columbia River Gorge and there are endless options for the outdoor enthusiast. Most often I’m out hiking, e-biking or snowboarding.
What do you hope viewers see in your work?
I hope my audience gets a break from feeling the weight of the world and get a chance to feel a sense of playful curiosity while investigating my artwork.
View our current selection of sculptures by Dylan Martinez or contact the gallery to learn more about the special edition Goldfish bags shown above.