Born and raised in Ecuador, Juan Miguel Marin didn’t always know that he would build a life in art. As a child he was more interested in music and sports, though he was exposed to painting through the Oswaldo Guayasamín lithographs that hung on the walls of his family home, and to cinema through the video rental store that his father ran. It wasn’t until he relocated to North Carolina and studied graphic design that he began to focus on his talent for image-making, a decision that paved the way for the thriving career he has now.
After college he moved to New York City and eventually gave up a full-time job to become a freelancer, with the goal of only taking on projects that allowed him to express his authentic creative identity. Since then he has managed to maintain a distinctive aesthetic in a variety of different contexts—on film posters and album covers, and in a series of site-specific performances that combine his drawings with original ambient music he has composed, informed by his background as a lifelong drummer and by the energy of a live audience. His art is the result of a process akin to active meditation, and it often features sinuous lines and ash-like ink markings, which he applies in an improvisational fashion to a canvas or wall. These elements are prominent in the eerie artwork he created for our edition of Juraj Herz’s The Cremator, which we highlighted on the Current last year.
After collaborating with Marin again recently, for our releases of Ramin Bahrani’s Man Push Cart and Chop Shop, we got to spend some time at his Brooklyn studio and talk with him about how he got his start as an artist. In the latest episode of Studio Visits, he notes that his memories of moving to the U.S. as a teenager informed how he went about capturing the spirit of Bahrani’s films, both of which shed a light on the lives of working-class immigrants in New York. Check out the above video for a look inside Marin’s multidisciplinary creative process!