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Artist We Love: Shantell Martin

Artist We Love: Shantell Martin


Shantell Martin Shantell Martin - Photo by Manolo Campion

Shantell Martin is a visual artist best known for her large scale, black-and-white drawings and collaborations with artists and institutions including Kendrick Lamar, the New York City Ballet, Tiffany & Co., Puma, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Museum of the Moving Image, MoMA and her upcoming exhibition NEW/NOW opens at the New Britain Museum of Art later this year. 

Her first art book in collaboration with HENI publishing LINES, featuring text by Katharine Stout and an interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist, is now available. 

I am fascinated by how your focus and source of inspiration is not only focused within the art world but creates new connections between fine art, technology, design, philosophy and much more.. Why do you think it’s important to “fit many boxes” as an artist and not just focus on the art world to grow? 

It's actually quite the opposite. I don't believe that it's healthy for any artist to try to fit into any boxes or be limited in any way. Do the things that you want to do, whether it fits in the realm of the art world or not.
If it's authentic to you as a human and artist, why not explore all realms of possibilities?

Shantell MartinShantell Martin, NYCB, Photo by Emmanuel Hahn 

Congratulations on the release of your new book “Lines”, tell us more about this book and how you came about producing it?t

Thank you! It was a wonderful convergence of having put in the work and then meeting the team at Heni who really believed me and understood my work in a very unique way. A lot of work went into creating something that could be not only a retrospective of the work I've created over the past 15 years but also something that could really inspire others to create themselves.

Shantell Martin - LinesShantell Martin, LINES

As an artist who has achieved various successes within their career, what do you attribute these successes to? What is your advice to artists navigating their career?

Trusting the process. It seems simple but that's really it. I'm not one for giving advice because I do believe that every path is different and what works for one might not work for another, but I do believe that there is power in simplifying and using what you have access to. If it's a pen, great. If it's something else, great. But whatever you do, do it to the highest quality and with clear and positive intentions.

Shantell Martin, MayRoom, Photo by Steven Simione

What are some of the challenges that you have faced as an artist? Do you still face these challenges? 

Feeding myself, paying rent, finding a studio, paying for my studio, paying for supplies, staying motivated, etc. The list could go on! Now I have a studio and I don't necessarily worry about feeding myself, but there are a whole new set of challenges that are equally as important to master.

Shantell Martin, NYCB, Photo by Roy Rochlin

How important is mentorship for an artist? 

Depends on the artist and depends on the mentor. I do believe that artists can benefit greatly from mentorship and guidance but before you get to that point I think it's important to really explore what you need guidance on/for and really be specific.

Shantell Martin, Albright Knox Gallery, Photo by Connie Tsang

What is your advice to women entering the art world?

Focus on the work.

Who are your favourite female artists?

Kennedy Yanko, Kristjana Williams, Mona Chalabi, Zoe Buckman

What quote do you live by?

Create your own opportunities by using what you have access to.