Martin Hsu San Francisco, California

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Martin Hsu
was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. He later moved to California where he received a B.F.A from the California State University of Fullerton. Martin’s work is self-described as New Traditional Asian Art which is inspired by Nihonga, Taiwanese floral fabric and by the charming creations of Hayao Miyazaki. Martin’s most current exhibit was at Galerie F&F and titled ‘Schools’. The exhibit focuses on Martin’s whimsical and beautifully illustrated inventions – the goldfish mermaids. His paintings of serene aquatic females swoosh through his work with enthusiasm and spiritual equilibrium dancing among each other in a sea called “life”. Much like Koi Fish in a pond, they hold our imagination and rekindle our life energy as they move back and forth reminding us of the individuals who have chosen to “swim alongside” us. When asked about his work at Nickelodeon Animation Studios and his latest exhibition, ‘Schools’, Martin had this to say:

I first got wind of your goldfish mermaids at Flower Pepper Gallery’s ‘Ever Surreal’ show. I adored the beauty of your mermaid pieces. You noted that Hayao Miyazaki has been influential in this series of work. For me, your mermaids have a similar playful and enchanting energy that Miyazakis Ponyo’s characters posses. In what other ways have you been inspired by Miyazaki? I’m glad my goldfish ladies reminded you of one of my life coaches- Miyazaki-sensei. I’ve always been fascinated by his ability to create real characters. “Real” not because they physically exist in our dimension, but because they are relatable. These fictional characters take up the form of soot sprites, five year-old Japanese girl and giant Wolf Gods, and yet we genuinely care for them. I aim to explore the beauty of these dynamic spirits in the most subtle way I know.

You have been part of gallery shows for some time. In addition, you have also worked with animation companies such as Nickelodeon and Disney. What correlations do you see between your professional work and personal art created for gallery shows? Having worked professionally in animation has provided the practice and discipline for me to survive as an independent artist. The ability to work with galleries and collectors is as essential as meeting deadlines and delivery dates. Same creative principles apply to production design and original artwork. Ultimately, good art evokes true emotions and transcends time. The rest is just application. 

One of the things I have found so charming about your work is the sincere and virtuous quality of your characters. They seem as if they live life in the most honest and spirited manner humanly possible. When I met you, I felt that you also exude this quality. Would you say that these characters are truly an extension of your personal perspective on life? That’s very nice of you to say. I’m fortunate to have been raised by a group of humble and kind-hearted souls. Having been born in the Year of the Horse, I fantasize about being a workhorse on a farm nowadays. On most days, I lower my head and pull as hard as I can. On other days, I hang out with farm critters and animals who are my friends. Together, we grow fresh organic produce for the world to enjoy. I hope this farm stays sustainable for a long time. 

Martin has exhibited in various galleries throughout the world including the Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary show at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and Giant Robot Gallery in New York, New York. Martin will participating in this years Designer Con (Booth 232) in Pasadena, California on November 21st and 22nd. If you would to view more of Martin Hsu’s work, visit his website or contact him via email at

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