James Martin earned his B.F.A. with Distinction in Illustration from the The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Upon graduation he worked for the comic legend Neal Adams as a storyboard and movie poster sketch artist. This culminated in a collaboration of a series of covers and illustrations with the artist. A freelance career followed in L.A.'s film and advertising industry. Some clients included: Lorne Michaels, Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, The Grammy Awards, Mattel, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, The Disney Magazine, Lightstorm Entertainment, Marvel Comics and commissions from directors James Cameron and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
For over 20 years he has worked as a Background painter, Visual Development artist, Texture and Matte Painter for Walt Disney Feature Animation and DreamWorks Animation. Working on such films as: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Tarzan, Treasure Planet, Over the Hedge, Shrek 4, Puss in Boots and How to Train Your Dragon I and II.
Throughout his career he has continued his commitment to teaching and working on his own art. He is an Artist member of The California Art Club and has exhibited at the Springville Art Museum, The Salmagundi Club, The Santa Paula Art Museum, a two-man show with George Pratt at The Frank Frazetta Museum in Boca Grande, Florida and participated in a three man show at The Morris Graves Art Museum.
He has taught for Art Center College of Design, California State University Long Beach, Concept Design Academy, Laguna College of Art and Design, Associates in Art and written a graduate level course on the History of Visual Development for The Academy of Art University. He has also conducted painting and drawing workshops for the artists at DreamWorks Animation.
He is currently a Professor in the Illustration department at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida.
In 2020 he published a monograph of his work "Muse".