Dreamweaver // Shantell Martin

Drawing, as the artist Keith Haring once described it, “brings together man and the world. It lives through magic.” We were reminded of his words when glimpsing this clip, a peek behind the looking glass at artist Shantell Martin’s unique alchemy. The UK-born artist has been incredibly busy ever since adopting NYC as her new hometown. She’s recently shifted from her large-scale light drawings—which she’s created live in locales as varied as the Yota Space Festival in St Petersburg, Russia and MoMA in NYC—to her more intimate, intricate line drawings. Nothing is safe from Shantell’s Midas touch—adidas kicks, walls, clothing. This week, she brings her uncanny eye to SoHo denim atelier 3×1. Her limited-edition denim will be on display, as well as items benefitting Print 4 Change’s non-profit partners Healing Haiti and Opportunity International. After all, the magic’s in the make of it.

See it all up close Thursday, December 15 at 7pm. 3×1 is located at 15 Mercer Street.

How do you describe what you do?

Basically I draw; I’m an illustrator, a creator over many mediums. My main focus or joy is to make experiences between myself, the art and the audience. I love to be in the crowd creating, drawing on people, making works that cannot be repeated or experienced twice.

You’ve recently shifted your focus from very large, public light installations to the more intimate drawings as seen in the video. How does the shift feel from your perspective?

The shift has gone full circle. I started with the more intimate, detailed drawings that I do now, which are much more personal and perhaps work better one-on-one and almost as a way of saying, ‘Come here. Look at these tiny worlds. Give them your attention.’ I started waving this super colorful, moving, projected flag around to music. Now I find myself really wanting to go back to the humble tools of pen and paper, where my true passion lies.

You have been working a lot with clothing – the kicks in the video, your upcoming collaboration with 3×1 denim – how does the wearer infuse the artwork?

The first art I did that could be worn was on people. After my live shows in Tokyo, people would come up to me and ask me to sign their arm or hand and I would always draw a little character or write a word that was present in my performance, this slowly developed into a whole series of collaborations with photographers and fans or friends’ faces. There is something quite special about your art smiling, happy and walking away from you. In Japan I worked on collaborations with different brands making silk linings and very limited t-shirts, which I really enjoyed, it gave the [work] a whole new life.

3×1 is pretty incredible, from the attention to detail that goes in to making the jeans, to the knowledge they have of the history and culture of denim, so I’m excited to be working with a brand that in a way reflects my one of a kind, detailed drawings.

You have so much coming up in 2012. What are you most looking forward to?

The biggest highlight would be the show I’ll be doing at Milk Studios gallery with Ben Watts and 3×1 in mid-January. It’s going to be lot of fantastic stuff happening in one night. I’m also excited about working with MNP, a project I have with cellist Anna Callner. Anna works on cello and beats and I do visuals and vocals and we only play in homes to explore that more intimate  “going in” experience.

—Angela Cravens