Shantell Martin rose to fame in the art scene with her characteristic stream-of-consciousness line drawings. An accomplished multidisciplinary artist, she’s worked in every medium from light projections to ceramics to the walls of her own apartment. With an international presence and a stock of killer brand collaborations like Puma and Airbnb under her belt, it comes as no surprise that Martin is the featured artist for 1800 Tequila’s Essential 1800 Artists Series 9.
Joining the ranks of high-profile artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, Martin is the first female artist to own the entire six-bottle series of limited edition bottles. Posing existential questions, Martin takes her work through another dimension of consumption, asking consumers to ponder her signature phrases like “You Are You – Are You You – Who Are You” and “Be Honest” while sipping double-distilled 1800 Silver.
We caught up with Martin this Tuesday at the Shantell Martin x 1800 Tequila launch party in Manhattan as she celebrated another top-notch collab.
AZ: Tell us about your collaboration with 1800.
SM: I wanted to use it as a springboard and a way to plant these questions or seeds – unusually, you might not see these phrases of “are you you” or in this case, “be honest” in the bottle, so kind of using them as a vehicle or a platform to carry these interesting positive but questioning messages out into the world.
Some of the phrases are more common within my work. For example, “you are you, are you you…” these are staple questions that I’m tormented with and I think a lot of us also think about them. And for something like “Be Honest” when we are drinking, we think about the honesty of what that does to you and what it can do to people. On the flip side of that, working with a brand like 1800 that’s coming from Mexico and is created and held to really high standards of quality – drinking it is very pure and honest and at the same time, so there’s something to consider as well.
AZ: Were there any songs or musicians that inspired you while creating the work for this series?
SM: When I’m working I have these curated playlists that friends do for me that I have up on my Spotify, to basically get me in the inspired zone, music that has been curated and then I draw. So for these six designs – these are six of many – so I did many, many drawings, many designs and I chose six that spoke strongly enough to put these messages out there and to use the bottle as a canvas for art out in the world.
AZ: What attracted you to working with 1800 Tequila?
SM: Whenever I work on a brand collaboration, some of the things I think about whether or not it’s something that I have access to make. I don’t have a distillery – yet! Are we going to make something that I don’t have access to, that puts out my art and message to a different demographic, are we going to make something that’s done to a really high standard and to my satisfaction, are we doing something that’s creative and unique in a way. These are some of the things that are like checkboxes for me to think about that help me say yes or no to the project.
AZ: You recently were part of a panel discussion at The Wing – could you tell us a bit about that?
SM: It was a panel organized by Marguerite which is a women’s collective in London. I was on the panel with Stephanie (D’Allesandrio) from the Met, Alyssa (Nitchun) from Creative Time, Kristell (Chade) from Frieze, and Kimia (Ferdowsi Kline) from the Wythe Hotel. It was a discussion from the art side on how to support women to encourage women.
AZ: How do you support women through your art?
SM: Well, If you can see it, you can be it. If you’re out there and you’re a model for that then people can see you and know they can be that. Every Saturday I do an artist showcase on my social – so I’ll find an artist that I don’t know, maybe sometimes I do know, and I’ll promote them on my social to drive traffic from my account to them. Generally, I advise artists who maybe have done less of the type of work that I have and I advise them with feedback and more behind the scenes stuff.
AZ: Who are some of your role models?
SM: Always kind of a hard question – I’m bad with names, but basically anyone in my life that I’ve seen grow and expand in what they do.
AZ: Is there anything else we should be on the lookout for during this collaboration that you’re excited about?
SM: Tonight we’re doing some live drawing, but maybe just throw it out there that it should involve music and it should involve light. So yes, but no!