Calgary continues to become a place of hidden talent that surprises me daily. Whether it's through a random encounter, a conversation with friends or social media, brothers Adrian and Martinus of ADRIANMARTINUS are no different. I don't know exactly when or how I came across these two, it could of been while cruising the markets of Calgary's ever so popular Market Collective or getting my visual crack fix on Instagram. All I know is it was a couple years back and the moment I saw their work, I was intrigued and wowed. Since being star struck, I regularly saw glimpses of them online, in articles and of course seeing their work in the flesh at various spaces around Calgary. One day over the 2016 Christmas season I finally met Martinus at Market Collective and after proclaiming my love for their work in person ( I think I freaked Martinus out a little), I asked if they would be willing to sit for a portrait in hopes of profiling them here on my blog and spreading the word of local talent in the city. Martinus still quiet, hesitant, eyes wide, head cocked back and expecting me to baa like a sheep, I pulled out my phone and showed him some of my work. His response... "Haha Ok, you got some skills and lets chat more after Christmas?". I agreed and we swapped info.
It turns out Martinus and Adrian grew up in Red Deer and during high school, Adrian already showed great interest in carpentry and after high school took a gap year and travelled to Australia. Martinus had other plans and went to film school in Vancouver but after struggling to break into the industry, he decided that wasn't for him and started his apprenticeship in carpentry as well; by this time Adrian was already in his 3rd year apprenticeship.
The two brothers soon found themselves working commercial construction but that too took the wind out of their sails as most days were spent sweeping floors and being the gopher on site; the shit jobs. However, on one particular day they decided to experiment and see what they could do with skateboards. The way Adrian and Martinus explain it, they had nothing better to do and jokingly admit "Why the hell not." As time passed the two brothers dabbled into a bit of residential work and other side projects as well. Then in 2012, Adrian got his journeyman ticket but his boss at the time refused to pay a journeyman wage, so the two did what was necessary... they quit.
Since then the two have found their own voice and style and over the years they salvaged various construction sites, lining up at auctions and even dumpster diving to get their hands on all sorts of materials they could use to build furniture and other various objects. Martinus says "Some carpenters and trades don't get excited about buying or searching for unique material. If I see wood sticking out of a dumpster that looks promising, I'll pull over and immediately dive in. Adrian and I both really enjoy the search for materials and tools."
Skateboards being their known trademark within their pieces has now set the tone of their approach by challenging the status quo. "It was very labour intensive starting with skateboards and I'm glad we did it because it forced us to think, be resourceful, use waste to build something else and approach it the opposite way; get the material then come up with an idea." The brothers now work with all sorts of materials such as hardwood flooring from past renovations, reclaimed bridge timbers, various hard woods and yes, they still use recycled skateboards. What they build out of these materials is nothing short of extraordinary. Everything from tables, retail displays, baseball bats, bowls, furniture, jewelry and more. Their client list includes Adidas, Teatro Group, Last Best Brewery and even retro-fitting a coffee machine for Made by Marcus ice cream at their 17ave location.