Just before my birthday, I had met John Martin via local musician Fleming Moore at the Third Thursday in September. Fleming was just finishing breaking down the Bummerville Amphitheatre musical set and introduced me to John, who immediately traced a silhouette profile to me within just a few seconds—amazingly quick and creative, this reminded me of the cute silhouette portraits my brother had done of his two cute little girls a long time ago.
Regan: When and how did you learn to be a silhouette artist?
John Martin: When I went to school, there was no art program. According to a Google search, there are only 15 known silhouette artists in the world that cut freehand using scissors.
R: I don’t think I have ever met a silhouette artist before you. Is it that rare to find one nowadays?
M: When I was in Walterboro High School In 1969, Silhouette Artist Crew Rice came and cut profiles of the students. After seeing the profiles, I discovered using my mother’s scissors I also have this unique talent. I find that I can cut any scene, person, or thing I choose. Silhouette art was widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries. Nineteenth century inventions and subsequent technology rendered it obsolete for several generations. While it is still rare to find an artist in this field, silhouetting is once again gaining interest as a viable art form.
R: Have you ever dabbled in other types of art?
M: I have tried watercolor painting, charcoal, pen and ink, pencil sketches, cartoons and soap carving.
R: What is it about this type of art that you find so special?
M: Silhouettes produce the illusion of a 3D image from a flat piece of paper.
R: You cut portraits, landscapes and animals. Do you have a favorite type of subject to profile?
M: I enjoy (all). I suppose doing people is my favorite as each person is unique so I enjoy doing that. At a recent show, I carved five busts of ... dogs and one picture of a full dog.
R: Tell me about your upcoming event in Summerville?
M: I will be over at Cuppa Manna on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m on Dec. 8. I am offering to do a portraiture for $20 per person or $30 for two people or $40 for three people. I am also doing some scenery pre-cut and ready to sell items as well at $25 each.
Next spring, I also plan to attend the Flowertown Festival here.
I offer my talent for weddings, crafts and art shows, parties, and fundraisers for schools and charitable organizations. I have demonstrated this art form and storytelling technique in a classroom setting in several school districts.
Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.