Marvin Blackmore was born in Farmington, New Mexico. Marvin's humble beginnings as the sixth child in a family of fourteen helped to shape his exceptional talent and drive. Marvin had to learn to amuse himself; his parents certainly did not have the time to dote exclusively over him. His favorite childhood pastime was art. It soon became clear that Marvin was bestowed with tremendous artistic talent. Growing up in Corez, Colorado, a hub of Native American art and craft, he was surrounded by pottery makers from several American Indian tribes. Marvin drew from each of the tribal styles as he began to dabble in pottery making. By 1989, pottery was Marvin's medium of choice and also his only form of income. He was initially drawn to the pueblo-style carved pottery with glass and matte black finishes, famously known in the Southwest as "Black-on-Black" pottery. Pottery making is now financially rewarding for Blackmore Studios, but in 1989 it was barely supporting Marvin and his family. In those days, Marvin, then in his early twenties, truly lived as a "starving artist." He and his family lived in low income housing costing just $18 a month in rent. Marvin ventured out and attended his first art show in Page, Arizona in 1990. He recalls having $17 to his name as he left for Page and at that show he sold $1,800 worth of his work and won "First Place in Category." Delighted by the reception of his work and the financial success of the show, he immediately attended another show in Fountain Hills, Arizona where he sold $3,000 and was also awarded "Best of Category." Inspired and rewarded, Marvin's career as a notable artist was just taking off. During the early 1990's Marvin was attending shows all around the Southwest where he was winning top awards one after another but the pace of trying to do all of the pottery work himself while traveling to shows was next to impossible. Like many of his contemporaries and even dating back to DaVinci and Michelangelo, Marvin took on apprentices to help him in the studio. Originally hired as apprentices, Native American artists Leo Blackhorse, Doris John and Rodney John, have now been with Marvin for over a dozen years and all are truly great artists in their own right. Full-blooded Navajo Indians, they contribute not only a natural expertise in the craft but add a treasure of knowledge of traditional American Indian design. Initially successful with the traditional Black-on-Black style, Marvin's pursuit of his own style slowly began to evolve. In the mid 1990's he developed a two-tone technique by adding a layer of a colored clay slip and then carving exceptional detailed designs through the slip to the base color of the pot. It involved multiple firings and yet even more labor was necessary in each pot. This etched, two-tone technique, combined with Marvin's eye for design rocked the Native American pottery market. As Marvin's techniques evolved, more layers of color were added and the designs have become more intricate. The two-tone carvings of the mid 1990's are now multilayered, intricate hand-etchings performed with a needle. The constantly evolving designs, while primarily influenced by Southwestern Native Americans, now incorporate influences from Plains Indians and even the ancient East and Middle East The layering and etching have become so sophisticated, even other top artists find it difficult to understand how anyone can do it. The market has evolved from attending Southwestern craft shows to being invited to the nation's top fine art shows. Evolved from craft, Blackmore pottery now graces the collections of serious art collectors from around the world.
As any great art in our history, it evolves over time influenced by conditions both deliberate and accidental, both original though and collaboration. Blackmore is no longer just a surname but now defines a unique style of American pottery and every piece is a treasure.