For an artist to be successful, he or she has to be creative and entrepreneurial. Luckily for Martin & Martin Design owner Monte Martin, he has both in abundance. Having studied architecture and interior design at Iowa State University before shifting to studio art, he was on the fast track to a career in museums after he moved to Dallas.
Landing a job at the Arlington Museum of Art as museum manager, Martin saw firsthand the need for someone who could handle art and focus on how light can enhance a piece’s color, shape, and form.
Martin had worked at the Des Moines Art Center when his employer recommended him to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. When a representative from that museum reached out, he was able to launch his own business. “We mainly installed, crated, stored, and shipped art,” he says. “Because of my interior design background, I knew all about lighting, so I would light all the shows.”
Soon a who’s who of museums and galleries came calling—among them the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art of Fort Worth, Meadows Museum, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Martin handled everything from major exhibits to mounting a single piece for “that little old lady who needs one painting hung.”
Over the years, Martin & Martin’s fine art and lighting services grew to include exhibit design and fabrication (he recently crafted glass and stone coffee tables, wooden library tables, and display cabinets for Swoon, the Studio’s Adolphus revamp). In 2016, he took over an 18,000-square-foot warehouse in Northwest Dallas with plenty of space for climate-controlled storage, plus workshops devoted to metal, wood, and lighting to produce his line of coffee tables, end tables, and mirrors, which he sells locally at Guggenhome and Mecox.
Martin believes we are in the middle of a new renaissance where art, architecture, and interior design align, and collectors care about quality rather than quantity. As he embraces this marriage of arts and science, he stays true to his roots by providing local talent with creative work in a collaborative environment.
“I personally want to create this place where artists and craftsmen and women have the ability to have a job in what they’re passionate about,” he says. “I’m not done growing—I want to be able to do more so I can provide more careers for people.”