LUBBOCK, TX - A Lubbock native, Joey Martinez has his work displayed on the walls of buildings all across town. His recent "Lubbock" mural spray painted on the outside of the 180 Vape shop caught a lot of attention when the City of Lubbock Codes Enforcement attempted to have it taken down.
"Someone is always going to have something to say about it, and I'm trying to interpret it into a more positive direction," Martinez said.
Coming from a rough past, Martinez said he grew up around gang violence and lost someone very close to him at a young age.
"One of my best friends was stabbed in the heart with a pick knife, and seeing all of these murders that are happening lately brings back a lot of memories," Martinez said.
He sprayed his first wall when he was 12, following his best friend's murder.
"At the end of my block there was a garage that was covered in gang graffiti, so I went to the end of my block and I sprayed "Mexican pride." And I know it sounds a little corny but to me at the time I would rather see something more positive than negative," Martinez said.
Realizing he had an artistic ability at a young age, graffiti has helped heal him. He was in the military for seven years, and it was when he suffered from an injury that he says things got tough. He decided to go back to school and expand his knowledge about art.
"After that I felt like I needed to do something better with myself, because it was a little depressing you know, losing everything," Martinez said. "School helped me a lot and it's been an outlet for me."
He's working with a friend right now to create an organization where they can teach art to veterans, and allow them to work through PTSD and release stress through expression.
"Without art I have no clue where I would be, but it's definitely helping me vent and it's like my own type of therapy," Martinez said.
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