After jail, the Indiana man turns into an artist generally known as “Kwazar”.

INDIANAPOLIS – Michael Martin was constantly tracking money.

For the former tattoo artist, the narcotics trade took over his life.

He does not blame his upbringing in the early 1990s on having a “rough neighborhood” on the east side near 31st Street and Sherman Drive.

“We all knew each other,” said Martin. “As bad as it was, there were many good days and good times. People took care of each other. ‘

After being arrested in his early 30s, Martin was charged with drug trafficking.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I have never blamed anyone other than myself. I shouldn’t have done what I did. ‘

He remembers his then 10-year-old son who sat across from him in jail and asked if he could cope with this lifestyle.

“I think about this moment every day,” said Martin. “And I understood that I had to do something else. Drugs, bad choices took me off my kids. That wouldn’t happen again. ‘

While in prison, Martin worked on a new rehabilitation program and received his GED. He stayed to himself. He was released after 17 months in prison, but has been on probation for some time.

Now at the age of 39, Martin is a rising artist on the Indianapolis art scene known as Kwazar.

“I spent two birthdays in prison,” said Martin. “On my next birthday, I was sitting across from Tamika Catchings in her tea shop and talking about art.”

Martin says Catchings was like a “big sister” at this point.

Aside from his work at Catchings’ Tea’s Me Cafe, Kwazar has art at Lucas Oil Stadium and is currently working on a play for Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

He painted the only mural of George Floyd during the social unrest in Indianapolis last summer.

In early 2021, Martin’s art was selected to sit at Monument Circle during the 2021 NCAA men’s tournament.

“That was amazing,” he said. “That was about six weeks with people seeing my name and taking pictures with my art.”

Martin jumps in medium from oils to aerosols. He says he enjoys the speed and brilliance of graffiti. He has experimented with painted woodcuts and even designed skateboards.

Martin recently dedicated a wall in his studio to the late rapper Earl Simmons, aka DMX, using spray paint. However, he dreams of seeing his graffiti and murals outside a building in the center.

Martin focuses his work on celebrating his black culture. He painted Kobe Bryant, Nipsey Hussle, Michael Jordan, and Tupac Shakur, to name a few.

“It’s my voice,” said Kwazar. “I’ve learned that I’m a lot louder when I’m calm and painting.”

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Source: The Indianapolis Star

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