When you're a ceramist at a lab known as the "Lab to the Stars" in Beverly Hills, CA, you know you're going to have some exacting clients. But Martin Martinez's painstaking attention to detail and artistic talents—he's also a painter and illustrator—make him the man for the job.
"Our clients are often working on very high-profile smiles, so they're very particular about everything from contacts to texture to color," says Martinez, who has been at the lab for 11 years. "We have dentists who choose five different colors to use on one crown or send CDs full of photos and detailed notes. A few clients even request that I email photos of each fabrication step so they can monitor the process. Sometimes the requests can double the time it takes to fabricate a case."
Add to that the common request for rush cases, patients regularly coming in for custom shades, and the occasional call to go to the dental office to adjust a shade on the spot, and you can imagine what his day is like. But it doesn't seem to ruffle him. "It gets easier with experience. You just have to be careful, make a checklist and be sure you hit all the points the clients are looking for," says Martinez, making it sound so easy.
Somehow Martinez also found time—while working 15-hour days—to earn a degree in management last year, fitting in online courses and homework at night and on the weekends. He's already put some of his education to work by reorganizing workflow and helping to increase efficiency. But when it comes to his ceramic work, he continues to draw on his skills as an artist. "Working on art and working on teeth complement each other; the more I do of one, the better I get at the other," he says.