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Rising Stars: Meet Jasper Martin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jasper Martin. 

Hi Jasper, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m Jasper, a nonbinary, biracial freelance artist and founder of Melty Peach! My pronouns are they/them. I’ve loved art ever since I was little, drawing fan art and making my own characters and stories from an early age! My other interests lay largely in media- and it didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t seeing characters like myself on the screen often. Over the years, after using art to sustain and care for myself in daily life (building an income with freelance graphic design and illustration, healing through art therapy, etc.), I turned my attention to that fact once again, wondering what I could do to help. At first, this simply meant turning my freelance work more intentionally toward my communities, offering my drawing services to people who wanted more affirming art of themselves or characters they had made when they too didn’t see themselves and their loved ones in media. When I started Melty Peach, however, I knew I wanted to do more! 

In August of 2021, I released a zine called “in search of Support & Healing” that I had been putting together that year, showcasing poetry done by various people, many from the LGBTQIA+ community. That month also saw the first Queer Zest Zine Fest, an online zine festival that featured virtual tabling spaces, presentations, and more for the queer community, which I had done some promotion art for. Feeling that this spotlighting of other creatives and helping each other network was the right direction to head in, I began looking for more opportunities to work with others. After my wife (Natalie Martin, a multi-instrumental musician, and vocalist in multiple local bands) and I had observed a lack of events for queer creatives local to us, we combined our connections and put together an event that happened in June of 2022. Akron Out Loud happened in Kenmore at the Rialto Theatre and featured live poetry, solo musicians, bands, live painting, and other performances all in one night of queer art, love, and safety during what is otherwise a terrifying time for us all for a multitude of reasons. Now I’m working to continue that and keep creating those spaces to shine spotlights on others while never leaving my roots of offering art and design help to those who ask. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
While I feel that my growth as an artist has been fairly smooth and steady over the years, being able to live off of that has certainly been a struggle at times for mental, financial, and social reasons- I’m incredibly grateful now that I live with my polycule as we’re able to support each other in so many ways and help each other in our creative pursuits. I have found so much more success in life while working with others than I have being alone. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m a visual artist, poet, and event organizer, among other things. I create art for others and spaces for others’ work to be shown, primarily under the name Melty Peach, which I recently invited my wife to help out with long-term and regularly invite short-term collaborators to help out with. In my own visual art, I specialize in drawing digitally and traditionally, as well as painting, doing graphic and character design, and dabble in many other mediums like sculpting, resin art, and more. I also have done live poetry reading, have provided background vocals for some of my wife’s band DreamStates’ albums, and helped plan both an in-person and virtual event- I like to think that my willingness to engage with creatives in other fields in my work is what ultimately sets me apart! 

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
Always be open to new connections, even outside of your field! A friendly disposition and being present at events with like-minded people goes a long way. I’ve also gotten a lot of mileage from posting in and talking to peers in online communities; the more you share your work the easier it is to meet new people. 

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