Martin J Day
Martin J Day is an Australian wildlife and portrait artist who was born the second youngest of nine siblings in Bendigo, Victoria on the 7th of November 1967 to parents Brian and Cherie Day. His Father an Irish Catholic, was a hard-working builder and his Mother was a proud homemaker with a Scottish heritage, both of whom also became artists in their senior years, achieving relative success after raising their sizeable congregation.
Martin began his artistic life very early, after watching his father Brian execute a perfectly rendered and life-like pencil drawing of a close family friend at the dinner table when he was at the small age of eight. This set the tiny zephyr stirring deep within that would eventually lead to an artistic monsoon.
By age 15 he had enrolled in an illustration course via the Adelaide college of the arts, which was completed covertly while being apprenticed as a builder by his traditionalist Father. He would later complete a graphic design course and be awarded a diploma in graphic design and illustration at that same college. Graduating one of the top students by the age of 20, Martin was well on his way to entering a successful career as an illustrator after moving to the sunny state of Queensland.
Armed with a portfolio containing a few college drawings at an interview ---which involved a live drawing presentation at TNT Leisure Brisbane--- Martin was offered a position as the first official portrait artist to represent Queensland at the 1988 Brisbane world expo. At his portrait studio on the southern boardwalk side of the extravaganza, Martin would ---before his 21st birthday--- render an estimated 1,800 pastel-drawn portraits and figure illustrations, now ornamenting dining room walls around the world.
Martin was also commissioned by Expo organizers to design and build a mobile Brisbane Expo-themed mural. The monument was constructed in 3 large canvas sections and was painted with the help of a group of artists during one of the final parades of the world fair. The finished abstract work was presented to the Brisbane Lord Mayor Sally-Anne Atkinson and was installed in her office hallway.
Following the Brisbane, Expo Martin set up a portrait studio at McWhirters Marketplace in Brisbane city which would act as a base while he painted murals at various locations in Brisbane and its suburbs. Some of his portrait commissions included country music stars, Lee Conway and Chad Morgan. During this chapter, Martin also managed to complete an apprenticeship as a traditional signwriter and worked for various sign companies. Martin was involved in projects such as the Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast where he was contracted along with signwriters, Artists, and interior decorators to create aged gold and marble effects all over the building's interior rooms.
In the early 90s, Martin also worked for Channel 10 Brisbane as a court artist and station illustrator beginning at the tail end of the famous Fitzgerald inquiry and continuing into the CJC trial of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Some of his involuntary subjects included characters such as Police Commissioner Terry Lewis, Luke Shaw, Jack Herbert (The bagman), Vic Conte, and Gerry Bellino. So expertly accomplished were his court illustrations they were often sold to competing news stations both locally and overseas.
The following 10 years were spent working as a professional Illustrator for 2 of Queensland’s largest Souvenir distributors, WW Souvenirs and Souvenirs Australia launching his highly successful designs into the global tourist market. During this time Martin completed several wildlife paintings and received a highly commended award for his illustration of a pair of Bald Eagles entitled “Nesting Ground” which was entered into the "Queensland newspapers Ken Cowley art competition" in 1998. With a first prize of $250,000, the contest did (unsurprisingly) attract thousands of artists from around the country.
Martin's art career came to an abrupt halt when in 2007 he suffered serious wrist injuries after a 6-meter fall from a scaffolding shattering his Distal radius and Ulna bones. His wrist bones were so severely splintered that he almost lost his lower right arm. Six surgeries were performed over 2 years by a brilliant British surgeon named Dr. Michael Thomas. After years of determined rehabilitation, Martin eventually regained full use of his hand and fingers with enough dexterity and strength to once again pick up the paintbrushes.
Today, ensuing a lengthy hiatus in the middle of a 3-decade career of Illustrating, Mural painting, and signwriting, Martin has revived his earlier passion as a wildlife artist and is currently painting watercolor works featuring Australian wildlife which will be shown at exhibitions both locally and overseas. Martin is a winner of the Talent prize award in the 2023 "Animal international juried art contest" held in Los Angeles for his bald eagle pastel drawing entitled "Surveillant Poise".