360º Creative Inspiration with Shantell Martin


What's it like to make art in New York City?

Introducing Skillshare 360º, a video series that gives the Skillshare community an in-depth and interactive view into the world of top creators. Click and drag in the video player for the full, immersive experience!

In this first short film, accompany renowned visual artist Shantell Martin as she opens a solo gallery show, draws on the walls, and describes her creative journey. Watch the film above, then be sure to check out Shantell’s drawing class on Skillshare. Creativity begins with inspiration.

Video Transcript

It doesn't matter whatever I'm drawing on, it could be a 200-foot wall, it could be your face, it could be my shirt, it could be my shoes, I start a drawing always kind of in the same way. And it starts with this initial line. And this initial line, for me, is the DNA, it's the structure, it's the foundation of the drawing, it's what holds it all together. 

And you imagine that I'm listening to music, maybe Kissy's DJing back there. Music kind of affects the drawing and will give it a little bit of a bounce too. But the main thing about this initial line, like I said, is the DNA. And just within like all of you, the DNA is what makes it different, it’s what makes it unique, it’s what makes it special.

I'm Shantell Martin. We're at my show here in SoHo on Howard Street. I'm an artist, a creative,
a collaborator, a traveler, but you could say I draw and I have a foundation in drawing, and that foundation in drawing takes me across many different planes and many different industries and many different mediums.

A line is something that grows as you grow. And as I've grown in confidence, my line has grown in confidence. And it took a long time, but I came to a space where I was like, "Wow, maybe no one's gonna have my line or my story. "And what if I take this idea of something "very, very simple, one line, and I try to master that line "and make it recognizable or make it uniquely me?
"That would be a great feat in this lifetime."

I've lived in New York for seven years now and New York has had a really big impact on the medium of my work, of the style of my work, of the scale of my work. And I wanted to create a space where I could show almost fragments of this, you know, pieces from the last few years in New York, and kind of do it in the way where, some people will only think that I draw with a thick line or some people will have only seen maybe some of the older thinner stuff or some people have never really seen the process.

You could almost say it's like a little bit of a retrospective of that time in New York, but also just a way of just creating a space where people can come in and understand a little bit more of me.

The one biggest response I get from people when they either see my work or experience the work happening live is they smile. And there is something about that that just make me so happy and it makes me continue to do what I do.

And that inspires me to create more of those moments that are positive and kind of show that art or a gallery or a show doesn't need to be this kind of stiff thing where you look and you're like, "Yeah, I get this, or maybe I don't get this. "Can someone help me?"

It should just be a thing where you go in and you feel it and you enjoy it and you feel a part of it. Some people ask me, “Shantell, how do you know when to stop? "How do you know when to finish?" And I say, imagine when I start a drawing there's this feeling called stop that starts in my toes, and that feeling is connected to a rope, and that rope is in the form of this line.

And so, when I'm drawing, this line is being pulled out and it's being pulled up. And now, I've pulled quite a lot of the rope out, but it's not fully out, so I'm gonna keep drawing. Nearly finished, 'cause I can feel that the rope is nearly finished. Dash, dash, dash, dash.

Then I felt that feeling that all the rope has been pulled out. So, I stop, I walk away, you all clap.

(audience laughs)


See, and the fun thing about this is I don't even know what I've drawn yet 'cause I was too close, so I'm gonna stand back and look at it… And it works.