with Shantell Martin
Interview: Artist Shantell Martin Discusses the Power of a Single Line and Why Positivity Is Her Biggest Inspiration
Shantell Martin has been exploring the magic in a single line since childhood, working primarily in black-and-white to inscribe walls, canvases, and other objects with abstracted faces and affirmational text. In a new interview supported by Colossal Members, managing editor Grace Ebert spoke with Martin about the vast potential of that seemingly minimal form, the joy and fun of collaborating for the sake of collaborating, and her unwavering approach to positive thinking.
I’ve been on this journey, trying to make a recognizable line. What if my line becomes so recognizable that it’s one of the most recognizable artist lines on the planet? ? There’s something so profound about that because literally, we can all make those marks… The foundation of a line is something that’s represented in architecture, design, and in fashion. You can build upon it and imagine upon it in any way that you choose to.
Inviting, accessible, and universally relevant, her monochromatic drawings are prompts for the viewer: Who are you? Are you you? She continually asks for introspection, for better articulating our positions in the world, and for questioning the structures around us, a practice she mirrors in her own life and work. In this conversation, Martin recounts her early career in Japan, shares how she’s cultivated an intense ability to focus, and explains why challenge is the impetus for many of her new projects.
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The Whitney Museum and luxury playing-card company Theory11 are teaming up on a series of artist-designed decks, and their first edition deals in British artist Shantell Martin (previously). Titled “LINE,” the same combination of Martin’s signature patchwork drawings and affirmational messages inscribe the dual deck, which is available in both a black and a white version. The line drawings are mostly monochromatic with the exception of bursts of color on the joker and face cards, which feature mirrored characters encircled by words like “wisdom” and “joy.”
Each deck is printed on FSC-certified paper with vegetable inks and starch laminates, and the cards are canvas textured and blind embossed. Both the black and white versions launched yesterday and are available from Theory11 and the Whitney Shop. You also might enjoy UNO’s sold-out collaboration with Nina Chanel Abney and this revolutionary deck from Studio LO. (via Artnet)
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New York-based British artist Shantell Martin is known for her black and white drawings, which combine patch-worked faces with straightforward messages. Martin’s multi-dimensional works address complex issues such as identity, intersectionality, and other topics relating to the modern human condition. Her public murals and immersive gallery presentations are made intuitively, building fields of loose drawings with a meditative style. Martin teaches as an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch in the Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she combines visual art with personal storytelling and technology. You can follow her global drawings on Instagram and take a short peek into her process in the video below.
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