Karel Martens (b. 1939) has worked as a freelance graphic designer, specializing in typography. Alongside this, he has always made non-commissioned graphic and three-dimensional work. He was awarded the 1996 Dr A. H. Heineken Prize for Art, and the 1993 H.N. Werkman Prize for the design of the architectural journal Oase. His monograph Printed Matter/Drukwerk, designed with Jaap van Triest was awarded the Goldene Letter, the first prize in the selection for ‘die beste Bücher der Welt’ in Leipzig, 1998.
A renowned teacher of graphic design, Martens co-initiated the master programme Werksplaats Typografie in Arnhem, in 1997, and is a guest professor at Yale University.
Among his clients have been the publishers Van Loghum Slaterus (Arnhem) in the 1960s, and the SUN (Socialistiese Uitgeverij Nijmegen) in the years 1975–81. As well as designing books and other printed items, he has designed stamps and telephone cards (for the Dutch PTT). He has also designed signs and typographic façades for a number of buildings.
Karel Martens likes to experiment with numbers, abstract figures, vivid colors and time based media as well as clocks. For our groupshow Index we connected for this reason his work with another ‘playful inventor’, the designer and artist Bruno Munari. Check our instagram account with his work Curva di Peano.
His autonomous work is held in public collections including Design Museum, New York (US), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (US), MoMA Library and Archives, New York (US), SFMoMA, San Francisco (US), Los Angeles County Museum, LACMA (US) and Art Institute of Chicago (US).
In the Dutch Profiles series Karel Martens explains more about his methods and ideas: