Hi! I’m Mart. I was a lucky kid who was exposed to incredible wildlife at a very young age. Whilst my parents were helping to protect critically endangered mountain gorillas on the steep forested slopes of the Virunga volcanoes, I picked up pencils and drew them.
We spent a lot of time in the field back then, and without a TV or other homely distractions, I spent a lot of time drawing. Eventually I got pretty good, and it became my thing. Something that brought me peace, helped me focus, unlocked my imagination and allowed me to communicate in ways I felt most comfortable. When it eventually came to deciding what to do with my life, I didn’t like the idea of not drawing as much as I had been used to, so I made drawing my job.
17 years and no regrets.
With Sudan - the last male northern white rhino, Ol Pejeta, Kenya.
To do my favourite thing for work is an immense privilege, and I have always tried to use my art to help wildlife. I’ve raised over £50K for wildlife charities from artwork sales, and while I continue to support wildlife in this way, I am currently using my drawings to try to tell stories about the threats faced by wildlife. I coined the phrase ‘wildlife artivism’ in reaction to a changing world where attention spans are shrinking, and to encourage stronger calls to action in the output of working wildlife artists. I don’t think that we can expect everyone to care as much about wildlife as we do, and we have very little time to convince them otherwise. Knowing that our species has an amazing capacity for generosity in times of crisis, we need to give people a reason to care by showing them the truth about how threatened so much wildlife actually is.
'A Plastic Plague' - drawing of a green sea turtle.
I haven’t written a CV since starting this job, but in that time I have become a global ambassador for Derwent Pencils, I’ve been shortlisted for the finals of Wildlife Artist of the Year 15 times, I drew the first ever illustration of a newly discovered species of primate, and I was awarded the Inaugural Art of Survival award in memory of the great artivist, David Shepherd. This was a career high, and I enjoyed another one when I was commissioned to produce the cover art for Derwent’s Pastel Pencil range, my favourite medium since i was 15 years old.
Drawing a Hyacinth macaw for Derwent's Pastel Pencil range.
I’ve held successful solo exhibitions in Kenya, the UK and the USA, and produced work for Elephant Parade London and the Faberge Big Egg Hunt. I am married to an amazing person, and our daughter is our greatest pride and joy. My current obsession is turning her doodles into drawings.