Antigone Rising

Out On Top

Zona Designs: Zoa Martinez

When Zoa Martinez jumped into a wheezing pickup truck to move to New York City with a friend a few decades ago, she didn’t fear the monstrous challenge the city usually represents to young artists who leave college early. “Obstacles? That’s not a word that’s in my vocabulary,” Martinez says. “I didn’t see any obstacles. I just kept going.”

What stayed with her throughout her fast-paced life was a constant sensitivity to color and environment and a desire to channel it into creation. And companies noticed. NBC hired Martinez as a designer and soon Martinez joined ABC, where she remained for ten years, while also doing projects for VH1 and MTV. The inherently restless, courageous artistic spirit Martinez exhibited years ago as a college dropout thrives now with Zona Designs, the firm she co-founded in 1999, targeted at the youth, Hispanic, and general populations. Its tagline is, appropriately, “Design Made to Move.”

“We’re bold and we get right to the point,” Zoa says, laughing. “I wonder where that comes from?”

As in Martinez’s history, movement is infused in each of the Zona Designs. The opening credits of the History Channel, HBO, ESPN and BBC (all by Zona) are startlingly colorful, sharp, fast-flowing and diverse—functioning as multimedia installations in themselves. It’s the kind of vision that won the firm an Emmy as well as high-profile clients like A&E, AOL/Time Warner, and the Discovery Channel. Beyond the accolades, Martinez remains in love with the process of artistic creation. Even during this interview, she wonders out loud about writing a book and perhaps starring in a movie. You go, girl!

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