Creativity’s Necessary Discomfort

“Sometimes, when you’re too comfortable you get scared to move ahead.” — Shantell Martin, author of WAVE

Recently, self-made artist and uber-collaborator Shantell Martin sat down with the magazine 99U to talk about the creative struggle. Creativity does not come out of comfort Shantell reminds us.

She recently moved from her highly successful New York City life for a San Francisco residency, working with fabrication machines and 3D printers. “I’m trying to put myself in a position to again have a learning curve, to be in an uncomfortable place,” she tells 99U. “[T]hose newly uncomfortable zones you find yourself in is where you are your most creative.”

Shantell is also the author of the TarcherPerigee one-of-a-kind fold-out mural book WAVE: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE SEA OF IMAGINATION FOR THE ADVENTUROUS COLORIST. What makes it so special? WAVE folds-out into a nine-foot-long piece of art, inspired by the ekoamnaki scrolls she loved during her time living in Japan.

Wave photo front

And if you’re having self-doubt about your creative abilities, Shantell has advice on that, too. From the 99U interview: “I’d think, ‘There are so many people that are so good and I could never do that! I’ll never be that good!’ I felt that way for a long time. And then I started to realize, ‘They’re not me.’ I thought, ‘What can I do that they can’t do? I can do me. And if me looks like this, then let that be the case.’ It’s easy to look around and see people with high skill and lots of accolades, and it can be hard to start. But just start. Start drawing a line. Work at that line. Get comfortable with that line. And see where that takes you and you’ll start to see what you look like.

WAVE is out Tuesday, May 17 from TarcherPerigee. And if you preorder now through May 16 using the form below, you get a bonus segment of the book as digital wallpaper background!

Also, watch Shantell Martin work her magic in this New Yorker video following her one-of-a-kind artistic process.


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