Born in Palisade, Colorado, a small western town where his father ran the newspaper, Fletcher Martin was a self-taught artist, best known for his painting of western subjects. He worked as a painter, muralist, and illustrator.
Martin grew up in a family that moved to towns throughout the West. He showed an early interest in art, primarily from circus posters and amateur painters. At age 12, he began working as a printer, and after dropping out of high school, had various jobs including lumberjack and professional boxer. In Seattle, where he worked for Western Show Print, he specialized in big, gaudy outdoor posters.
From 1922 to 1926, he served in the Navy and then settled in Los Angeles where he had a job with Earl Hays printers. He had a long-time interest in boxing and did many paintings of that activity. He also assisted Mexican painter Siqueiros with a large mural and created a design for a Post Office mural in Kellogg, Idaho that citizens found objectionable because it depicted a mining accident. His revised work was a frontiersman and a prospector, but he featured an ass in the prominent part of the composition over the postmaster's door.
In 1938, he began a thirty-year career as visiting teacher in art schools in California including Mills College, Otis Art Institute, and Claremont College. In 1943, he traveled to North Africa as artist-correspondent for Life magazine.
He died in New York City in 1979.
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940