Pro model Justin Eric Martin talks with DAMAN about his start in the modeling world, his dream project and how it all boils down to passion and discipline
There is something oddly satisfying when you go over the résumé of a successful model—particularly one of Justin Eric Martin’s caliber. In a way, it’s like looking at the perfect candidate for a job, as the earliest entries in the “job experience” list mentions names like Bottega Veneta and Calvin Klein, Balmain and Versace, and so on.
Indeed, Martin started his career with a Calvin Klein campaign followed by a series of spring/summer runway shows for the following year, then went on to appear in even more fashion shows along with lookbooks and catalogs, campaigns and magazine covers. Even during the pandemic, he still appeared on the catwalks, including Versace’s spring/summer 2020 show, Giorgio Armani’s fall/winter 2020 show and more.
And like so many of his peers—including quite a few that have appeared in previous issues of DA MAN—Martin’s amazing career began with
a chance encounter with a modeling agency’s scout. His continued success, however, had nothing to do with chance and had everything to do with plain old hard work and dedication.
DAMAN: Hi, Justin. Thank you for having us. How are you doing these days?
Justin Eric Martin: Hi guys, thank you so much for having me. I’m doing fantastic! I recently got a place in Los Angeles and loving it.
DA: Can you tell us a bit about your pre-modelling days? What were you focusing on back then?
JEM: Not much. I love nature; I’m such a nomad.
DA: How did you begin your journey in the world of modeling? Or in other words: How were you scouted?
JEM: I was scouted walking around New York on my last night visiting there.
DA: What do you remember the most about your very first professional modeling project?
JEM: I remember that I was very nervous, but also excited at the same time. I was very thankful for the opportunity.
DA: You have built up quite an extensive portfolio of runway shows, campaigns, and editorials. What would you say was the one gig that really put you on the map?
JEM: I think they all have contributed in my career, but definitely my first Calvin Klein campaign in 2017.
DA: You’ve walked for the likes of Versace, Bottega Veneta, Hermès and so on. What would you say is the best part about joining a runway show for the big maisons?
JEM: The craziness backstage! Everyone is running around and the adrenaline is on another level. The way these designers run the show is very fascinating. I think seeing their creations come to life is my favorite thing.
DA: Can you also tell us a bit about what goes on behind the scenes? How does a model get picked and what kind of preparation do you usually have to do before the actual show goes live?
JEM: I learned that anything can change in an instant. As I mentioned before, it’s quite a show itself backstage: Models getting dressed, people running around and changing things at the last minute.
DA: Before all of this happened—and by “all this” we obviously mean the pandemic—were there any particularly big changes in the modeling world and fashion business that really affected your career?
JEM: I wouldn’t say affected my career but definitely limited me on the jobs I was able to book and travel.
DA: In your opinion, what does it take for a professional model to really make it in the business these days?
JEM: Discipline and passion.
DA: Several questions ago, we mentioned your portfolio. On that note, which runway shows, campaigns and/or editorials would you consider the biggest—let’s say, top three—highlights of your career so far?
JEM: Definitely Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani and Versace
DA: And what do you think will it take to top those? Or in other words, what do you see as your dream project?
JEM: I would love a worldwide fragrance campaign
DA: Besides modeling, what else are you most passionate about? Do you have any hobbies, perhaps? Or maybe a sport you’re really into or music and art?
JEM: I love music and nature, as well as traveling.
DA: On a more career-related note, do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about? Or perhaps a career move that you’re looking into?
JEM: I have a few campaigns coming out soon that I can talk about but once they’re out you will know…
DA: How would you describe your own, personal style? What kind of clothing do you feel the most comfortable in?
JEM: I wouldn’t describe my style as super fashionable. I love to wear jeans and basic tees. I wasn’t raised materialistic, so that went for clothes too. Clothes are definitely a way to express yourself and as you grow all of that grows and changes with you … so essentially it’s ever-changing.
DA: There’s never a shortage of people looking to make their way into the modeling world. For any aspiring model out there dreaming of being part of fashion’s return to normal, what would be your number one piece of advice?
JEM: To be patient and stay disciplined and also stay focused on your goals.
Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Kimberly Goodnight
Grooming Lisa Sasson using Balmain Paris Hair Couture and Dior skincare
Model Justin Eric Martin/ Pretty Management
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