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British visual artist and philosopher Shantell Martin is living out her passion.
Best known for her large-scale, black-and-white line drawings, Martin’s masterful portfolio pushes the boundaries of creative storytelling. She explores themes such as intersectionality, identity, and play, while simultaneously, forging connections between fine art, education, design, philosophy, and technology.
Using an ink marker, Martin also creates small personal sketches, murals, live drawings, wearable art, and more. Her artwork has inspired many thoughtful collaborations with artists and institutions including Pulitzer Prize-winning performance artist Kendrick Lamar, the renowned New York City Ballet, Tiffany & Co., and Nike. She has exhibited in prestigious solo shows at the 92Y Gallery in New York City, the iconic Albright Knox Gallery, and the New Britain Museum of Contemporary Arts.
Martin’s latest collaboration with Hoek Home includes a limited collection featuring her signature black-and-white lines. From coasters to coffee tables to wall art, there are no limits to her work. Her journey was captured via Instagram during the Hoek Home Artist Residency.
An intellectual at heart, Martin currently teaches students as an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program).
Martin talked more with BLACK ENTERPRISE about her groundbreaking work and experience.
Who are you, Shantell?
Just a creative kid trying to have the freedom to make what I want, where I want, and when I want with a positive message.
As a biracial artist, how does your work celebrate who you are and the people around you?
I’m always trying to make work that creates experiences and connections by sharing who I am. That’s also why I like to work live and in real-time. It keeps me honest and in a position where I feel creative and connected to the world.
What does it mean to you to wake up every day and live out your passion and creative outlets?
To live out your passion and do what you love, you also have to do many other things to maintain that. It’s a balance and a dance, you can never do 100% what you love and what you like, but that’s the goal and what keeps me going.
Can you describe a day in the life of Shantell inspired by just doing and creating art?
That sounds like a dream, but doesn’t really exist. There’s definitely a part of the day where I’m drawing or making music, but then there’s also the other side that most don’t see: the admin, organizing, meetings, and maintenance. Each day I just try to put one foot in front of the other and see where I end up.
When did your journey creating your signature black-and-white artwork begin?
Just like all of us, I’ve been drawing since I was a child, and in black-and-white.
What have you learned through the process of transforming your fine art to wearable art?
I’ve been drawing on clothes all my life since I was a kid. Its really surreal to see other people wearing it and walking past me in the street or out in the world. Our bodies are like museums, and we can carry art with us and on us. That feels really cool.
What was the biggest lesson you learned during the HOEK home artist residency?
The biggest thing I learned was how to tessellate a shape. Which basically means creating a shape that can connect to itself from each side, you’ll notice this technique in the coasters that we came out with. It looks quite simple, but actually, for me, it was a bit difficult and challenging to get right. Ultimately, I was able to figure it out and that felt very rewarding. I loved how this collection came out.
Music and art can easily be dance partners. Describe what your experience has been like co-creating live performances?
All of my performances are spontaneous and intuitive so I really get to tap into the space, energy, and people in the room. I really enjoy live performances.
What does the future look like for you and your art?
Hopefully, the future is bigger, brighter, larger, and more interactive. I want to continue creating meaningful installation art moments around the world and ultimately play a bigger role in education and schools.
What advice would you give to those who want to explore and cultivate their art into the capacity you’ve grown and beyond?
It’s not easy. If you’re not 100% into it, consider doing something else. But if you do have the dedication, consistency is the key. You’ve got to be consistent.