Detail of 2017 photo by Stella Kalinina of Illustration alumnus and And Repeat Inc. founder Martin Grasser.

profile / alumni / illustration
October 17, 2017
Writer: Solvej Schou
Photographer: Stella Kalinina

HQ:SF – Creatives in the Bay Area / Part 2 / Illustration Alum Martin Grasser

San Francisco has changed a lot since 1967’s Summer of Love. Flanked by water and fog, the Northern California city now brims with technology companies and creatives. Meet three very different alums who work and live in and around the golden City by the Bay. Here’s part 2:

Drive 14 miles north on Highway 101 and across the Golden Gate Bridge—the orange steel landmark where the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean meet—and you find yourself in vibrantly green Mill Valley, home base of Martin Grasser (BFA 09 Illustration).

“This is 15 minutes outside of the city, but it feels like you’re super far out in the forest at times. I love that vibe,” says the Bay Area-raised youthful dad of three, and founder of art and graphic design studio And Repeat Inc., whose clients include Paypal and Braintree. Previously, Grasser was the design director of creative studio West, where he helped redesign Twitter's famous bird logo, based on sketches of circles.

As thick grey morning fog rolls in and drizzle turns into pouring rain, Grasser grins while getting soaked in jeans and a black zip-up down sweater. He’s standing in a park next to the Mill Valley Public Library, where redwood trees the height of skyscrapers loom over him. Grasser used to work out of the library or in his house close by, near quaint coffeehouses, upscale boutiques and Mount Tamalpais State Park. In early 2017, he moved his business into a white-walled office in bayside town Sausalito, by a pier teeming with eye-catching bohemian houseboats.

I'm not a serious person, but I’m serious about beauty, with my work, and finding what's beautiful in life.

Martin Grasser

“I’m not a serious person, but I’m serious about beauty, with my work, and finding what’s beautiful in life and spending time with people you love,” Grasser says.

When Grasser went to ArtCenter, he and his graphic designer wife’s now 10-year-old son Charles was just a baby. After drying off at home, five minutes from the park, Grasser sits in his book-lined living room with his toddler daughter Kate, who screams “Daddy!” as he helps her erect a tower out of pink and magenta magnetic toy tiles.

“We build towers, and then she destroys them,” he laughs. Outside, his grassy backyard overflows with micro greens and homegrown lettuce. Grasser’s latest paintings layer digital photos of his daughter’s tiles with lights shined on them.

“I try to capture that Bay Area mist. I’m obsessed with it,” Grasser explains following a quick drive to his Sausalito studio. He points at his gauzy, colorful artwork on the walls, and smiles. “I like to bring nature into design.”