Exclusive Interview with Shantell Martin – Part 1 | Bold Lines


Shantell Martin is a visual artist, intuitive philosopher, cultural facilitator, teacher, choreographer, songwriter, performer, and more. Her practice continuously pushes the boundaries of creative expression through thoughtful, innovative collaborations with artists, cultural institutions such as The Whitney Museum Shop, NYC;  Denver Art Museum, Pulitzer Prize-winning performance artist Kendrick Lamar, acclaimed designer Kelly Wearstler, The Boston Ballet, and brands such as The North Face, Google Creative Labs, and B&B Italia. This is Part 1 of our exclusive interview with Shantell.

What inspired you to become an artist?

It’s been more of a journey of putting one foot in front of the other and then waking up in a place where I’m living a life as an artist. It was never something I dreamed of doing, but I have always wanted to work creatively. I’ve always wanted to work on my own terms. I’ve always wanted to be in a position where I do what I love. And this is where we are...


How would you describe your art style and how long did it take for you to master it?

My art style is playful, it’s bold, it’s confident, it’s minimal, and it’s full of meaningful and powerful messages. I’m sure it will take my whole lifetime to master it. It’s been a path of extracting my style – I think it’s always been there. Fortunately, I’ve been able to accelerate it through a practice of live drawing, drawing in real-time. I love the idea that anyone can make their own line. But it takes a lifetime to make that line recognizably yours. 

Shantell Martin | Photo by Michelle Mosqueda

What challenges did you have to overcome as an artist?

The challenges I have to continuously overcome as an artist include people undervaluing or not valuing me and my work, and people assuming they can take your work for free (be it companies or individuals). Another hurdle is people, companies, and institutions sending agreements that take away your rights as an artist. And then having to spend time and money fixing these agreements. But overall, I am willing to take that time to leave these in a better place than I found them.  


How long did it take for you to become successful and what lessons have you learned along the way?

It’s still a work in progress. I’ve learned to take my time and trust myself. 

What makes your art unique?

It’s uniquely me. 

Shantell Martin | Photo by Matt Doyle

How do you come up with innovative art ideas?

Usually, as an artist or creative, you’re constantly thinking and imagining things to make, build, and share. It’s not something I have to try to do; there’s a constant stream in the back of my head of things I want to make. That’s just an integral part of being an artist. 


Were there any significant events during your art career that impacted your artistic development?

You know, I think starting a career as a VJ (video DJ) in Tokyo allowed me to draw life and perform and the opportunity to become comfortable on a stage. Moving to New York gave me the ability to explore scale and work in a variety of different mediums and industries. 

Patrick Yocum, Madysen Felber, and Paul Craig in Shantell Martin’s Kites | Photo by Rosalie O’Connor. Courtesy of Boston Ballet

Which artists or artworks influenced you – and why?

You know, I’m always inspired by artists that I know and can see. I can see the hard work that they’re doing and their work evolve and grow. I think it’s a more tangible way of being inspired.  

What was your very first impression of NFTs, and has it changed in any way once you became an NFT artist yourself?  

I wouldn’t say I am an NFT artist; I am just an artist who enjoys exploring new tools and mediums. It’s a growing and ever-changing space. My impression has changed many times and probably will continue to. Overall, I’m excited to see where the space goes and grows. 


You are known for very large artworks in the physical world, why expand into the NFT realm?   

Looking back at my career, I’ve always worked digitally and tried new technologies. I’m continuing to explore my curiosity, wherever that may be. 

Did your art change in any way after you went digital, and do you enjoy creating digital art?  

I’ve been creating digital artwork for decades; it’s not a new thing for me. It’s just a different way for people to own and consume the work for me. 

PART 2 of our Exclusive Interview with Shantell Martin | Be Yourself

Transience 01 (Glass gem)
Make the most of this day, this year, this life.
© Shantell Martin & Ben Sheppee

Interview organized by Maximus Communications. The World Art News (WAN) is not liable for the content of this publication. All statements and views expressed herein are only an opinion. Act at your own risk. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission. © The World Art News

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