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MEET THE ARTIST: Busy bee Karina Jo Martinez, the power of the mandala

Word of the Day:

Mandala (noun)

1: a Hindu or Buddhist graphic symbol of the universespecifically : a circle enclosing a square with a deity on each side that is used chiefly as an aid to meditation 2: a graphic and often symbolic pattern usually in the form of a circle divided into four separate sections or bearing a multiple projection of an image

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Mandala. In dictionary. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from

Karina Jo Martinez

Karina Jo Martinez, 27, is a jack of all trades in the local art community and doesn't hold back when creating art with her various talents. This full-time young artist describes herself as an "intuitive and intentional" artist and has a passion for creating mandalas specifically. She bases her work around "intention," which the mandala encapsulates.

Born in Rock Falls, Illinois, and raised partly in Phoenix, Arizona, Martinez moved to Hot Springs when she was 12. Her family was drawn to Hot Springs by the cheap cost of living, crystals and thermal water; all of which has set Martinez up for success in her career.

Q: What type of art do you create?

Free-hand intentional mandala art. Mandalas — basically they’re sacred geometry so you can put different downloads or intention into the layers.

I also craft jewelry from crystals; necklaces, rings and bracelets.

I’m also a writer and actor. Heart Confessions is my first published book of poetry, and I also had a produced play in the past called Nook of Your Mind.

And I’m a singer songwriter, which fingers crossed I’m trying to have an EP ready by my birthday this year in April.

I love a million projects.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be an artist?

Once I tried henna. I was a sophomore in college, so that was probably in 2015. I got hooked, and then I did not want to stop making those designs. And I put it on everything.

I was 20.

Q: What is the significance of the mandala?

Each layer is able to hold intention and be influenced in design by the intention and energy of the artist.

On a personal level we can look at a mandala and see the big picture from the outside or outer layer, as we work into the center of the mandala it is similar to coming back to the core of ourselves.

On a spiritual level, the mandala in the center can be seen as the beginning, each layer representing events and moments that can never be turned back or changed, but forever built upon eventually creating something beautiful.

Q: What inspires your art?

It’s a combination of intentions, colors, music and random moments. I’m really big on inspired action, so waiting until that moment hits — because I can’t do it if I’m not inspired. And that’s a really dangerous line to ride when you’re doing it professionally.

So it’s really important to find a way to constantly fuel inspiration, but then also making motivation easily accessible, which is why if I’m not inspired, but need to start on a project, I’ll leave it at the brink of starting.

Q: How do you market yourself?

A combination of documenting the process and completed pieces and upcoming events, or where accessibility is. Social media is a very useful tool. I think it’s the reason a lot of it is possible. My go-to would probably Instagram, then Facebook, then TikTok.

If I was smarter I would be putting more focus on TikTok. I’m old school and I started with Instagram and you can auto post that to Facebook, so you can always knock out two birds with one stone.

But on TikTok you’ll find straight up strangers who are like “Where can I buy this?” and I’ll send them a link and they follow through. TikTok people are ready in a whole different way.

Q: What is your advice to aspiring artists?

Try things and show up. Take every opportunity. Learn what works and doesn’t work, and why. I think those things can go pretty far.

Q: What is difficult about being a full-time artist?

Staying in aligned inspired action even in the moments when it looks like it could be going really rough. Because if you let your energy get caught into it you’ll fulfill the prophecy.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a full-time artist?

It’s probably a combination between getting to show up in the community as an artist — I really like those moments. I think it’s cool, like at VOV, all the kids want to be at the henna booth the whole time. But then also my other favorite part would probably be just the hours of playing music on repeat; zoning into a painting.

Karina Jo Martinez

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