Shantell Martin, Artist
Shantell Martin Interview
Shantell Martin is a British visual artist known for her free association drawings and light projections. Shantell’s work is best described as “a meditation of lines; a language of characters, creatures and messages… Part autobiographical, and part dreamlike whimsy, Martin has created her own world that bridges fine art, commercial and the everyday experience — conversations, objects and places.”
Shantell Martin studied at Bexleyheath School in Kent, London, and graduated with a BA from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London, England. Martin lives and works in New York.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
For the longest time it was a tie between being a runner or a cartoonist – even though I really didn’t understand what cartoonist did, but I did love to watch my cartoons.
What is your process like?
It’s almost like a switch now…. I don’t plan things out. I know there is no point, because the work never looks like how I plan it or just some of the lines that come thru me are un plan able. They just have to not exist then exist. For example if I’m doing a giant wall drawing I may just walk up and down for a while to warm up and then I just go for it. The work unfolds by itself… It’s my job to focus on the movement and fun of the creation of the piece.
What influences your aesthetic?
I guess I can say this now…but I was in a way fortunate not to have been exposed to any artist or art growing up really. You know the way we used to find out about artist n stuff back in the day is it was not around you, was by going to the library and looking at books. I didn’t find out I was dyslexic till I was in my early twenties – Up until that point and a good deal after I would actively avoid the library and books altogether. I was intimidated by them and didn’t want to touch them. Leaving me in the way to inspire myself thru the everyday.
Best advice you could give to someone who wants to be a professional/working artist?
1. Don’t wait for opportunities – create them.
2. Use what you have access to and run with it.
What is something you had to learn the hard way?
I’m always learning…but one thing that took me a long time to really understand was about stopping when it was time to stop a drawing or a project. I never used to listen to that subtle sound inside that would whisper stop to me, I thought I knew best and as a result made a lot of work that I was not happy with or just didn’t feel right. Nowadays that stop feeling and I are great friends and work together really well.
What makes good art?
How do you define success?
Being able to understand the other.
As an artist, how do you feel about social media?
Social media can be great. It’s a way of sharing your work with the world. Sometimes, like today, when you see an Instagram photo of yourself sitting on the train that someone took of you in the morning I feel that it can be a little invasive.
How do you think we can make the world a better place?
By educating people how to have/make better diets for themselves. If we eat better and consume positive stuff be it food, literature, TV, drink, etc., it can help us to feel better from the inside out. If we feel better on the inside there is more chance we will want the outside world to feel better too!
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