How two Denver-based artists defied the odds to create together.
Tanya Martin and Marcus Merritt are a creative powerhouse. Even while balancing Marcus' role as a head chef during COVID-19 and a new baby, the resume of these Denver-based artists boasts a t-shirt empire, podcast, zine, art club, and an impressive body of artwork. Tanya and Marcus generously share their stories with us in an interview.
How did you meet?
Tanya: We first met in California around 1999 when we attended the same school for 6th grade! Our last names both start with M so we were often seated near each other (alphabetically). In middle school we even rode the same bus home! Life took us different directions but anytime we were both back in California we would visit each other and stayed friends over the years. Marcus: We met in the 6th grade. I remember when I first saw her. I instantly fell in love. I was a portly young lad, so I never felt confident enough to actually tell her how I felt about her until a few years back. A decision I will never ever regret.
How did you begin collaborating together?
Tanya: About 4-5 years ago I started learning to paint and draw. Marcus had been painting/drawing for years already and would encourage me and give me tips. As my interest in art grew, we began working on projects together. He would draw linework and I would digitally color the pieces. In 2017 we began collaborating on bigger projects, eventually culminating in the creation of our first esoteric art zine, The Hermetic Circle. (Which has since transformed into a magical study group!) And by December of that year we were dating as well! :) Marcus: Tanya started to post about drawings and paintings she was doing. For years I wanted to collaborate on a book of short stories/poems that she would write and I would illustrate, but I was too nervous to bring it up. Once I saw more and more drawings I just took the leap and just flat out asked. She got a Microsoft Surface and started digitally coloring my drawings. That grew into a zine, and so much more.
What do you hope to provide to your subscribers through your zine, The Hermetic Circle (T.H.C)?
Tanya: T.H.C. is a community where people can get friendly support in their magickal and occult studies. I don’t claim to be an expert or formal teacher of any kind. Instead I’m offering a more relaxed mentorship/tutoring through the mail, as well as a community of like minded students to join. I believe sharing knowledge this way strengthens the village. Marcus: A way of looking at the world and life.
Tanya: Almost all of my art is inspired by magic in some way. I am fascinated by Symbolism, Surrealism, and the concept of the Divine Feminine. I love learning new art techniques and my methods for creating art change constantly. I have experience in many mediums; drawing, painting, collage, digital art, leathercrafting, knitting, crochet, embroidery, jewelry making, poetry writing. If you can learn about it on YouTube or Pinterest, I’ve probably given it a go. Marcus: I draw inspiration from things I've experienced or can connect with through my life. From 90s cartoons, movies, music, the occult, anime, comic books, and so much more. I love inks, pens, and watercolors; although most of the work I do lately is digital. Jim Mahfood is a huge inspiration of mine! His ink work is straight wizardly!!!
You created a podcast. What is your favorite Too Stoned to Review episode and why?
Tanya: Y’all Come Over Here Right Now. We end up down a strange tangent discussing the children’s movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and I do the worst Mr. T impression in the history of impressions. Hahaha! Marcus: It's hard to pick a specific episode. Every episode I've ever done has been special because I am sitting around with my friends and we are just laughing and having fun. It's one of the few places I can really open up and just be myself.
How have current events influenced your creative work or ideas?
Tanya: Our son was born in December of 2019, so I have spent most of this pandemic isolated inside with a baby, going through the postpartum phase. It naturally slowed down my artistic output. In an effort to help the baby and I get out of the house, I started a local creative group called Mile High Art Club but we were only able to meet twice before the quarantine began in March. Normally my art thrives on hermitage but this year has been very different.
Marcus: My creative work has been on and off for the last couple of years. Then our son was born in December of 2019. I was working a lot of hours because I'm a chef, then covid-19 broke out and I worked even more. Some changes are happening soon, and I've been more creative lately so keep an eye out for new things!
Tanya's art @daughterofplato
Marcus' art @dogmatic_visions
Podcast Too Stoned to Review