Visual artist and revolutionary philosopher living his passion

British visual artist and philosopher Shantell Martin lives his 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 artwork, and more. His works have inspired many thoughtful collaborations with artists and institutions, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning performance artist. Kendrick Lamar, the famous New York City Ballet, Tiffany & Co. and Nike. She has exhibited in prestigious solo shows at New York’s 92Y Gallery, the iconic Albright Knox Gallery and the New Britain Museum of Contemporary Arts.

Photo by Connie Tsang

Martin’s latest collaboration with Hoek Home includes a limited collection featuring his signature black and white lines. From coasters to coffee tables to wall art, there are no limits to his work. Her journey was captured via Instagram during the Hoek Home artist residency.

Set of 6 tessellated wooden coasters engraved with an exclusive design by Shantell Martin at Hoek Home (Photo credits: Michael Ferraro and Conor Coghlan)

An intellectual at heart, Martin currently teaches students as an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program).

Martin spoke further with BLACK CORPORATE about his groundbreaking work and experience.

Who are you Shantell?

Just a creative kid trying to have the freedom to do 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 always try to do work that creates experiences and connections by sharing who I am. This is 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.

3-piece desk organizer designed by Shantell Martin at Hoek Home (Photo credits: Michael Ferraro and Conor Coghlan)

What does it mean to you to wake up every day and pursue your passion and creative outlets?

To live your passion and do what you love, you also have to do many other things to maintain it. It’s a balance and a dance, you can never do 100% what you love and love, but that’s the goal and what keeps me going.

Can you describe a day in the life of Shantell inspired by the simple act of making and creating art?

It looks like a dream, but doesn’t really exist. There is certainly a part of the day where I draw or make music, but there is also the other side that most do not see: the administration, the organization, the meetings and the maintenance. Every day I just try to put one foot in front of the other and see where I end up.

Desk rug designed by Shantell Martin at Hoek Home (Photo credits: Michael Ferraro and Conor Coghlan)

When did your journey of creating your black and white artwork begin?

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 turning your fine art into wearable art?

I’ve been drawing on clothes all my life since I was a kid. It’s really surreal to see other people wearing it and walking past me on the street or in the world. Our bodies are like museums, and we can carry art with us and on us. It’s really cool.

What was the biggest lesson you learned during the HOEK Home Artist Residency?

The most important thing I learned was to tessellate a shape. Which basically means creating a shape that can connect to itself on either side, you’ll notice this technique in the coasters we’ve created. It sounds pretty simple, but actually for me it was a bit difficult and challenging to get it right. In the end, I was able to figure it out and it was very rewarding. I loved how this collection came out.

Music and art can easily be dance partners. Describe your experience of co-creating live shows?

All of my performances are spontaneous and intuitive, so I can really tap into the space, the energy and the people in the room. I really like live performances.

Bench custom designed by Shantel Martin (Photo credits: Michael Ferraro and Conor Coghlan)

What does the future look like for you and your art?

Let’s hope the future is bigger, brighter, more expansive and more interactive. I want to continue to create 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 craft to the ability you have developed and beyond?

It is not easy. If you’re not 100% into it, consider doing something else. But if you do having dedication, consistency is key. You have to be consistent.

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