You may remember a few weeks ago we featured The North Face collaboration with British visual artist Shantell Martin. Well, we were lucky enough to catch up with Shantell recently to have a chat about the collab and hear what else she’s been up to.
Hi Shantell, how are you? How did the collab with The North Face come about?
The North Face design team in Europe actually approached me, and it’s a brand I’ve admired for some time so the chance to create something new and original together was an opportunity I was so excited about.
What was the inspiration behind the print you created for the collection?
The North Face Search and Rescue archive really provided a rich canvas to work on, but it was examining what exploration means that helped inspire me most. Not just the meaning for myself but how I felt it impacts so many others that truly feel the need to get out and connect with nature. Especially over the last year, we’ve seen how different the world has changed and how as things have developed perhaps on a technological level, there is an even stronger need to explore the world, outside of our homes/apartments and computer/phone screens.
We’ve all faced greater restrictions on our lives over the last 18 months or so, how has that affected you as an artist? Has helped or hindered your creative process?
Truthfully, it’s been a wonderful experience for me to be able to recenter myself. I’ve spent the last 10+ years working very hard and perhaps was caught up in work and trying to survive as an artist. The last year and a half has helped me to regain perspective, reconnect with my environment, reconnect with my own creative pursuits, explore new artistic mediums and grow.
You have a very distinct style. Did you make a conscious decision to work only in black and white or is it something that developed over time?
It’s funny, I’m known more for my work that is in black and white, but I actually work a lot with colour too! It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I think there is something very calming about the simplicity of black and white which is probably why people gravitate to it.
You’ve collaborated with an impressive list of people. Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you’d like to?
I love collaborating with people who are at the top of their industry, masters of their crafts, and who I can learn from. Especially if they work in a field that is perhaps very different from my own. I’m a huge admirer of Lewis Hamilton, not just for the work he’s doing in F1 and with Mercedes but with the work he’s doing as an human’s rights and animal rights activist and in fashion.
I am always in awe of the work of Michaela Coel. I’ve been a fan since Chewing Gum and I May Destroy You will forever be one of the greatest series ever created.
You also teach as an adjunct professor at NYU Tisch. How important is it to you to work with the next generation of creatives?
Teaching is such an incredible honour. I went to art school at CSM, but at the time there were things that were fundamentally missing from that experience that I think could have better enabled me to function as a working artist. So I really feel a responsibility to help guide the next generation in the best way I can, and the truth is, I always learn so much from them and it becomes this very reciprocal experience.