The Photography of Francisco Martins
Born in Cascais, a municipality of Lisbon in 1980, Francisco Martins is a Portuguese photographer, illustrator and graphic designer. He developed his drawing skills from a very young age; the focus of his artwork became the human body depicted in a realistic style. Spending long hours drawing faces and bodies, Martins was captivated by the idea of capturing on paper a subject at a particular moment in time, in effect rendering the subject timeless and beyond mortality.
Throughout his art history studies, Martins felt especially inspired by the works produced during the Renaissance and Late Baroque periods, the Classical art of Europe’s seventeenth-century and the works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which included such artists as William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and, later, William Morris and John William Waterhouse. Martins was also inspired by the portraits of past monarchs who, considered to have been anointed by God, were depicted in divine postures surrounded by auras of light and magical atmospheres.
Francisco Martins, drawn to these painting styles and techniques, began to apply these same principles to his own artwork. Along with his love for nature, he has a deep fascination for Greek and Celtic mythology, as well as the folklore of his native Portugal. Martins’s book collection of fairy tales and local lore told by elders around fires on cold nights played an important role in shaping his graphic style.
Between 2000 and 2004, Martins attended Lisbon’s Institute of Art, Design, Technology and Communication where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. After graduation, Martins began to experiment in photography. He combined photography with his illustrative techniques to create hyper-realistic illustrations that depicted scenes from ancient myths. As his photographic skills matured, Martins began to focus more on fashion and his favorite form of expression, portrait photography.
Begun in 2016, Francisco Martins’s “LongIsBeautiful” project is a photographic series that celebrates that which is different and aims to break down labels and stereotypes. Primarily it is an attempt to break rigid trends in the fashion industry, elevate the industry’s fundamental values, and confront society’s rigid expectations of what a man’s image should be. The project also glorifies the image of men in communion with Nature, a communion exemplified by Native Americans and Brazilian and Polynesian native cultures.
The “LongIsBeautiful” project associates long hair with the sixth sense and sees it as a celebration of the natural world of which we are a part. Societies, especially ancient ones, believed that hair was more than an aesthetic attribute; a person threatened or in danger would feel one’s hair rise up on the back of his neck, an unconscious perception of a warning. The project depicts modern man as a being who recognizes and respects the importance of the natural environment.
Concurrently with his “LongIsBeautiful” project, Martins began a project entitled “RedIsBeautiful”, a photographic series that was started with the goal of ending the negative stigma that is usually associated with red hair. The rarest of all hair colors on the planet, less than two percent of the world’s population, red hair is often an excuse for bullying, derogatory comments, harassment and even hate crimes. There are high incidents of both depression and suicides among those with red hair due to such occurrences. In Martins’s vision, red hair plays a major role in fairy tales and should be recognized as an exceptional trait. His project hopes to increase self-esteem and shape the fashion world into a more accepting and appreciative industry.
As an independent artist, Francisco Martins’s work has appeared in many periodicals including Umbigo Magazine, Egoísta Magazine, DIF Magazine, PARQ Magazine, Computer Arts Portugal Magazine and MC1R Magazine, among others. He has also done photographic work with guitarist Steve Vai for Ibanez Guitars.
Martins’s work was featured in two compendiums of illustrations from worldwide artists by the German art publishing house TASCHEN. His images appeared in “Illustration Now: Volume 3” and “Illustration Now: Portraits”, as well as in the promotional calendars and diaries. Martins’s work was also featured in the official catalogues for the 2009 Lisbon Offf festival and the 2010 Offf in Paris.
Francisco Martins’s work can be found at his Instagram site located at: https://www.instagram.com/franciscomartinsphotography
Francisco Martins’s Behance site, which combines his three fields of graphic work, illustration and photography, is located at: http://www.behance.net/FrancMartins
Second Insert Image: Francisco Martins, “João David, Cascais”, 2019, “LongIsBeautiful” Project, Black and White Print
Third Insert Image: Francisco Martins, “Chris Pritchard, Cascais”, 2015, “RedIsBeautiful” Project, “NC1R?-The Magazine for Redheads, Issue 5, 2016
Bottom Insert Image: Francisco Martins, “António Godinho, Cascais”, 2018, “RedIsBeautiful” and “LongIsBeautiful” Projects, Color Print