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HER: Shantell Martin on Creativity, Google Searches, and Why Self-Expression Matters

The path of a disruptor is rarely a straight line. It’s the twists, turns, and bends that inspire Shantell Martin, a contemporary artist who blurs the lines between commercial, fine, and performance art by exploring the world with a black Sharpie marker. Disruption, she says means “Never becoming too comfortable,” a fitting definition for a woman who  is constantly forging new convention-challenging paths, whether as an artist in residence at the MIT Media Lab or with the launch of  Wave  – an adult coloring book that once opened unfolds into a nine-foot illustration. A fitting collaborator for this STORY, Shantell lent her unique self-reflexive take on disruption to an illustration that has been turned into a limited-edition capsule of items, from Stance socks to a Print All Over Me bomber jacket. Ahead, Shantell shares why she sees eye to eye with Batman.

What’s one thing the Internet doesn’t know about you?
Perhaps that I don’t know how to swim, or that I have kept a comb tucked neatly away in the side of my hair for decades.

What would the title of your autobiography be?
Something about following lines.

What album or song would you consider your personal soundtrack to NYC?
Listened to a lot of Black Coffee DJ sets out here.

When’s the last time you were inspired – by what?
Have you seen Seinabo Sey sing? Wow…. Super inspired but her voice and talent.

What items can be found on you at all times?
That comb I mentioned, stickers, and most likely a marker.

To what are you addicted?
Creating and moving forward.

What did you Google last?
Bubble Wrap. Hard to get hold of in large amounts.

What’s the last thing you took a photo of?
Just checked my phone. Looks like my friends Wi-Fi password, which sits on her fridge.

If you were going to win an award tomorrow for anything, what would it be and what would you like written on the trophy?
For that fact that I have not stopped working and making for as long as I remember. The trophy reads simply “WHY” to consistently act as reminder as to why I do what I’m doing each and everyday.

If you had 24-hours in NYC, where’s the first place you would go?
I pop to see friends’ babies, make sure to get some pizza at Saraghina in Bedstuy, perhaps eat at Dough Donuts, maybe even go check out the Met (I have not been since I’ve been a member), pop by Neuehouse to do some work/hangout, and make sure to have dinner with friends.

With what character fictional do you most identify, and why?
Perhaps I’m kind of a Batman character. He is out there in the public eye, but likes to hide out, and has been working through past issues over the course of his life. At the end of the day, he wants to create greater good in the world.

Shantell Martin is celebrating the Launch of her book “Wave” with #DisruptSTORY. RSVP here to attend.