Stephan Martiniere’s art seen around the world
Although Stephan Martiniere is neither a performer nor a politician, the Nevada County resident of 10 years regularly influences TV watchers, moviegoers and magazine and newspaper readers throughout the world.
Graduating from a four-year art school in his native France 20 years ago and then attending an animation school also in Paris, Martiniere has remained in high demand and won multiple awards as a director, writer and illustrator in several arts and entertainment fields.
His most recognizable recent job was as a concept artist for “I, Robot,” now showing at Sutton Cinemas in Grass Valley. In the beginning of the movie-making process, a concept artist creates pictures of how the scenes will be portrayed on the screen.
For his part in “I Robot,” which took him six months to complete, Martiniere was responsible mainly for exterior environments or “the streets, the look of the city,” as well as Vicky (the computer brain) and the giant statue in the corporation’s atrium. Seeing the movie only once so far, Martiniere admitted sheepishly last week, he will buy the DVD because the movie is “visually stunning and definitely entertaining.”
Other fantasy and science fiction movies Martiniere has served as concept artist during the last two decades include “The Astronaut’s Wife,” “Battlefield Earth,” “Dragonheart 2,” “Star Wars Episode II,” “Star Wars Episode III,” “Virus,” “Red Planet” and “The Fifth Element.” He will start working on “Underworld 2” next month.
Besides his movie commitments, Martiniere has added his talents to just as notable projects in the television, advertising, theme parks, gaming and book cover art fields.
His career began unexpectedly 20 years ago. While attending the animation school, he was recruited by DIC Entertain-ment Corp. to work on television animation, character and background design for the “Inspector Gadget” show in Japan. Martiniere’s responsibilities soon expanded into directing hundreds of episodes for other animated series, specifically “Where’s Waldo,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Heathcliff” and “Madeline.” He won the Children’s Hall of Fame, Humanitas, A.C.T. and Parents’ Choice awards for “Madeline,” a musical adaptation of the Madeline books.
After leaving DIC, Martiniere was hired by the Waldo Company to design the nationwide comic strip “Where’s Waldo” for four years.
“I work all over the place, I keep my hand in every field in the industry,” Martiniere said.
That’s why his resume also includes prestigious designing jobs for theme park rides, such as the 3-D motion rides “Star Trek, The Experience” and “The Race for Atlantis” in Las Vegas, and creating computer games such as the nonviolent “Uru: Ages Beyond Myst” which incorporates mystery and puzzle-solving. He just finished a sequel to “Uru” which should be out by Christmas.
Since 1999, Martiniere has added book cover paintings to his accomplishments. So far, he has completed more than 50 book covers featuring science fiction and fantasy subjects.
His first art book, “Quantum Dreams, The Art of Stephan Martiniere,” a compilation of his paintings in the book cover and gaming industries, was released a few weeks ago. Martiniere is working on another art book and is also designing a comic book story as part of a graphic novel (book-length story told through a combination of text and art) featuring the “Stars Wars: Episode 3” design team.
A few months ago, Mercedes-Benz aired a commercial in which Martiniere created a fantasy demon monster symbolizing the car’s engine. Martiniere also created the flying saucer featured in the Mountain Dew commercial two years ago.
Even with such an impressive list of artistic accomplishments, Martiniere is quite modest about his works.
“Far as I can remember, I always wanted to be an artist. First I wanted to be an astronaut but I had more aptitude at drawing than flying,” Martiniere said simply.
Spectrum Award and Expose Award representatives agree. Martiniere won a Spectrum silver award and gold award respectively in 1997 and 2004; he was awarded two masters awards and an excellence award by Expose this year. Both annual books look at the “best of the best” in science fiction and fantasy categories of various media.
After 20 years, Martiniere still enjoys his hectic and creative work.
“I love it because it’s constantly challenging thinking of new ideas,” Martiniere said. “Each project is different from the previous one – not only in concepts but style. I can jump from cartoon or science fiction, it keeps me on my toes.”
For more information on Stephan Martiniere, check his Web site at http://www.martiniere.com.
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