How To Reimagine The Canvas

How To Reimagine The Canvas

Artist Shantell finds new mediums in skin, denim and even her granny's sewing. One of a series of interviews brought to you by the Heineken Ideas Brewery.

Kyana Gordon
  • 3 august 2012

Shantell Martin is an internationally acclaimed visual artist challenging the traditional notions of drawing and animation. Inspired by Heineken’s new challenge to reinvent the Draught Beer Experience, has interviewed change-making creatives who are constantly reinventing the world around them. Shantell’s work re-imagines the canvas– as her signature style is seen adorning walls, sneakers, cars, and even human faces. Her work is ever changing, as it reflects what’s bubbling inside of her through lines, phrases, and color, it also serves as a rabbit hole for viewing the world in a fresh, new way.

How does your art help you see or interact with the world differently?

Art helps me have with a connection with myself – my thoughts, ideas, and issues. It begins inside and needs to come out. Being out in the world sometimes, and putting myself out there (through my artwork) helps me to relate to the world better.

Is what you draw influenced by what the canvas is?

The canvas is always different, from walls to cars, people, or even a big screen at a conference.

The underlying theme is a continuous line. When you change the medium or the environment, the work itself does change a bit. For instance if I am by myself the work is more detailed, but if I am at a performance, the stuff I create is words I can hear people saying in the moment.

Also drawing on a person (on someone’s face), I’ll tend to bring color into it. When you bring other people into your work they bring color into it through their personality and what they share, and you take into account what they feel through color.

Same with cars, they’re naturally colorful so that’s what I use when I draw on them.

You often use phrases in your work like “Who Are You?”, “Do Less Be More”, “Here Now”, and most recently “You Me”.  Why is it important for you to have a combination of words and images in your work?

Words are really important. Lines aren’t enough to make people question things. Lines aren’t enough to make me question things. The combination of words has a huge, strong meaning that everyone can relate to, whereas lines are hard to explain sometimes.

Here Now reminds me to be aware. Be grounded. I’m alive. I’m present.

Me You is a reminder we’re all the same. We all have our struggles, we’re all on this journey.

By mixing these words in, you open the door for more people to understand the meaning of the work in a shorter period of time and it becomes what people associate with you. People will tweet or post words on my Facebook wall that they have seen in my artwork out there in the world and send them back to me.

Recently you participated in a cross-generational, artistic collaboration with your Grandmother where you asked her to interpret some of your famous phrases in her own style. Are there any other projects you’re working on that re-imagine the notion of collaboration?

A few. I started that project with my Granny because I felt disconnected from my family back home in England. They had no idea what I’ve been doing for the last 8-9 years of my life, and my Gran was getting a bit older. So I’d send her instructions and she’d sew something and send it back.

I talked to my 9-year old nephew Charlie about shaving words into his hair for me. So every month he’ll go to the barber and my sister will photograph it and I’ll form a collection of head-shaven words. And that brings the younger generation into the fold. Charlie also gave me a lot of toys, which I dipped into gesso and have drawn and written all over so that’s also another collaboration.

In September, I am having a show at the Black + White Gallery in New York. It’s perfect because it has a huge indoor and outdoor space. It’s awesome in so many ways as I’m mixed race, my style that I’m known for is black + white, and it really makes a statement about the union of the two shades.

Lastly, I plan to record the sound I make when I make when I draw with a contact microphone. I’ll be using this as a performance visual/audio piece and will bring in other people to collaborate.

Watch Shantell demonstrate some of her live performance here below:

Thanks Shantell! Visit Shantell’s website here and Heineken’s Ideas Brewery here.

About Heineken’s Challenge To Reinvent The Draught Beer Experience

In a rather audacious move, Heineken are asking people from certain countries around the world to come up with new ideas tied to the draught beer experience. Over at the Heineken Ideas Brewery site, creative minds can offer a new vision to the drinks company.

Heineken say that draught beer is enjoyed the world-over, but it has not changed much over the years and Heineken sees the potential to take inspiration from technological advances and the development of other industries to create an exciting new era in draught beer.

Submit your new draught experience concepts at Heineken Ideas Brewery.


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