he art of Shantell Martin can’t be contained.
Her expressive style—often festooned with
faces and quotes in graffitiesque black ink—is
not limited to galleries and canvases. Her work
has appeared on the exterior of a Brooklyn
restaurant, on a limited run of sunglasses for
Max Mara, on doodle-covered décor for the home guru
Kelly Wearstler, and at live performances at New York
Fashion Week and Miami’s Art Basel. Born in England
and educated in London, Martin had a stint as a DJ in
Tokyo before finding her way to New York, so we asked
the tireless artist how the traveling life informs her work.
What is the first great work of
art you remember seeing?
Rousseau’s Tiger in a Tropical
Storm at the National Gallery
in London. As a 10-year-old,
I was mesmerized.
Do you have any favorite museums?
I love the Albright-Knox Art Gallery
in Buffalo, New York, where I’ve just
installed a solo show. I’m also quite
fond of the Menil in Houston and
MoCADA in Brooklyn.
Do you make art when you travel?
I like to create my work where it will
be seen, so it’s as relevant to the space
as possible. I also like to draw on the
plane during landing, as it helps chill
me out—I’m not a fan of flying, even
though I do it so much.
You’re quite prolific. How do you
decide which projects to say yes to?;
It’s important to bring your full self to
whatever you take on. I love to work
with people who are as obsessed with
what they do as I am. What makes it a
good fit? Morals and values should be
aligned, and it should be something you
feel proud to share.
Can you describe a powerful
experience you’ve had with a work?
Often after finishing a large drawing,
I’ll stand back to see the work for the
first time and think, “Wow, this is
much bigger and more confident than
I will ever be.” There is this powerful
sense of knowing that the work has
always existed. I just brought it into a
place where we can all now see it. [
trace her many moves
across the globe, o;er-ing up new worlds for
art lovers to explore.
Artist Shantell Martin
travels the way she creates:
on her own terms.