Born in 1903 in Berlin, Martin Wilke went to school in Stettin and Stargard studying fine arts and handcrafts. He then spent another two years at the State Museum of Fine Arts in Berlin, where he studied under Professor Emil Orlik. Initially he was interested in painting, drawing, and typeface design, but gradually his interest in typefaces dominated his time.
His collection was seen by Wilhelm H Deffke, who was impressed by his work and invited Wilke to work with him. After another assistant position under Professor O H W Hadanks, he returned to work with Deffke.
Wilke attracted the attention of the Willhelm Woellmers typeface foundry in the mid-1920s when he designed a script typeface for some Cadillac advertisements. This font became known as the Wilke-Kursiv and is now known as Ambassador from Photo Lettering Inc. During the late 1940s and early 1950s he created the brush typeface Caprice and broad-tipped pen typeface Diskus. He later went on to create Palette, Berolina, the sans-serif font Essentia, and some decorative typefaces including Moira and Halftone. His final design was Konzept.