Martin Wong was born in 1946 in Portland, Oregon and was raised in San Francisco, California. He spent 1966 and 1967 studying architecture at University of California, Berkeley before enrolling at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California the following year to study ceramics. Wong dubbed himself the “Human Instamatic” in 1975, quickly sketching portraits and selling them for a few dollars in Eureka, before he decided to become a painter and moved to New York City in 1978.
Wong died in San Francisco from an AIDS related illness in 1999. His work can be found in museum collections including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, de Young Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2013 the exhibition City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti from the Martin Wong Collection, organized by Carlo McCormick and Sean Corcoran, opened at the Museum of the City of New York.