An Interview with Shantell Martin

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Shantell Martin crosses boundaries with her art and the media she uses to create it. She’s an illustrator who made her mark drawing live projected images, often on people, in Tokyo megaclubs. She then moved on to lecture worldwide on the creative process and perform in galleries like the MoMA, and many others. She exhibits her hand-drawn illustrations as well, with upcoming solo shows in New York and Florida.

Martin’s work, web presence, and ability to tell her personal story are impressive. So check out her site and hear what she has to say in answer to a few of Artlarking’s inquiries. She’s a definite case study for wide-eyed emerging artists to learn from.

What motivates you, makes you get up in the morning, and keeps you creating despite outer influences telling you what to do and how to do it?

For some reason, could take a long time to explain, I’ve never really felt that strongly pressured by what other people think or suggest I should do. I go with my own flow. On the most part I wake up and I naturally want to make, create and share my works, but every now and then I don’t and I have to just ride it out and find other things to do with my time.

What gives you sustenance and allows you to relate to your environment as if it were home despite alien surroundings, new places, and new faces?

Growing up in the London I always felt like a bit of an outsider. An alien. Perhaps that has something to do with being mixed race and never really being accepted as “English” (like the English side of my family). We are given the title of “British”, which kinda makes you feel like a 2nd class citizen. So, at least when I am in foreign countries and environments, feeling like a foreigner seems normal and enjoyable.

How do you create opportunities for yourself within the community of art and business, doing all the awesome projects you do? A lot of artists want advice on how to represent themselves, and how to engage the world as an artist and a business.

Since leaving school I am yet to have an agent, manager, publicist, gallery etc. I have not been opposed to the idea of any of these, quite the opposite, but as I’m a bit of a hybrid (illustrator, visual artist, performer) people don’t really know what to do with me.

As most of my work, especially the live projection work is in public and on a large scale, I create fans and opportunities to meet with people at every show. If people like what they see, they will talk about it and come and talk with me….

It is still hard to show people my real passion though – my illustrations on paper.  They are very small and take time to sit down n view. I’m working on showing more people in the future though, by releasing a series of books.

If I were to give any advice, I would just say – get out there!

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