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When we enter the NYC studio of artist Shantell Martin, we cannot stop effusively gushing about how incredible it is. A tiny, stark white room with light streaming in from a skylight, Martin's space is packed with examples of her trademark black line drawings that cover nearly every object in the room.  

With a career that started as a VJ in Japan, Martin moved to New York in 2008, where she has grown into her self-described style that is "a meditation of black and white lines...a language of characters, creatures and messages." Her process is also an interactive experience, with most her work happening in live settings that range from music festivals to tech conferences; it's a multidisciplinary approach that Martin's art philosophy to transcend above the typical art world boundaries and translate to a range of audiences and experiences. 

We talked with Shantell about how she got started, Tokyo vs. NYC, and art-as-performance. Photography by Marisa Chafetz

Tell us more about your background. 

Where do I start? I'm from London and was an odd kid who liked drawing and doodling and doing stuff against the grain. That's what brought me to art school. It was a pathway where you could just be yourself and no one was trying to change that.

In school I did my degree in graphic design. [When I was there, it] was the first time I was around people with different backgrounds and interests, kids with pink hair who listened to crazy music. There are also a lot of Japanese students where I went [St. Martin's in London] so I got really into the culture — animation, movies, toys, and had the chance to go to Japan and visit. I loved it and felt pulled to be there.  

So like most people I graduated from art school and was like, "What the hell do I do now?" So I decided to go to Japan and travel and teach for a year. I did that for seven months and then went to Tokyo and found myself there.
 

How did your work change once you got to Japan?

When I was in London I was doing a mix of performance, tagging, and making little sculptures. When I got to Japan I didn't feel like I could just go write on walls or do things that were kind of illegal. You might get kicked out or put in prison! So my work completely changed…I used a 0.05mm pen and would draw very fine and in detail. In a new country, new place, my focus became this introverted view of quasi-human landscapes. 

And then eventually a friend saw that and she asked if I could do live drawings, done with a projection and camcorder. So we did that and it was one of my first performances — I was drawing to music as a band played. And it helped me realize, "Oh I'm a performer."

And so that's how I started my career, just doing visuals to Japanese avant garde noise music. And then eventually that evolved into the club scene, where I moved into using [a digital] tablet and computer. I'd open my computer, drawing software, and just draw to the beat — zoom in, zoom out. It was black and white for the first year, and then went very colorful. I would also draw on my fans, that became something I did. 

And this was something that not many other people were doing, right?

Right. It helped pioneer a way of doing illustration and music in clubs and it was received really well. I was sponsored by Wacom and was really successful as a VJ in Japan because I had a very recognizable style. 

But then, I was ready to leave Japan and came to NY for a holiday in 2008. Of course I loved it. I had never been to the US before then. So I got an artist's visa and moved here and then was like, "Oh crap. What did I just do?"

Was that transition difficult, work-wise?

NY has everything, but not if you move from Tokyo. The visual/club scene doesn't exist here like it did there. 

People weren't into projections ("It's a fire hazard"). I thought I'd be big here, but then I very quickly realized that no one knows who you are or cares who you are. So that first year and a half was a huge struggle. I was sleeping on couches just spending my savings. It wasn't until I decided to leave that things worked out. 

I realized that I was waiting for someone to give me the life I had in Japan. And then when I realized that, I knew I had to go out and create my own opportunity. So I asked friends about getting a space and started doing projections and then started getting calls. And things slowly started to take off. 

When do you feel like you really started doing things in the style you're doing now — black and white, more stark, and text-heavy?

Eventually I devolved. I went from the digital high-tech world of Japan to just picking up pens. I was doing what had been doing in Japan except analog, and as a performance. It would be a drawing in a performative space. And that's what I've been doing — drawing...really fast...on whatever is around me. 

Can you talk more about the different areas you work within besides just the traditional art scene?

I work in a few worlds. I'm in the fine art world, in the technology world, in the fashion world, and in education — I teach at ITP, NYU, and am starting a fellowship at the MIT Media Lab.   

Is performance still a big part of it?

Yes, I rarely draw without people watching. 

Your work incorporates a lot of language and the repetition of words. How did that start?

The words have always been there. It's always been words and lines, even when I was a child. Sometimes I look back on my work and realize I'm creating a language. 

Words I repeat are mixtures of: You-Me, Someday, One Day, Why Me, Today, Why Now, Why Here.  

Do people call you out on the streets about your daily uniform — black pants and a drawn-on white shirt?

I'll be on the subway and people will just be staring at me. Sometimes they ask. Sometimes they want to buy it. Mostly just stares, though!


See more of Shantell's work here

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From left: Cadien, Jack, Clay, and Connor of Twin Peaks.


Last weekend at FYF Festival I met up with another of my favorite bands,
Twin Peaks, from Chicago, IL. Nobody in the band is over the age of 20, and already, they've released two albums, most recently being Wild Onion, which have both been received with very high praise. Cadien, Clay, Jack, and Connor have been on tour with The Orwells, Arctic Monkeys and Criminal Hygiene, and have been making their way up the ranks all summer. Read on to see what music the guys have been influenced by along the way and how they're feeling about it all. These guys are here to stay.
Interview and photography by Maddie Sensibile

You just released your new record, Wild Onion, a few weeks ago. How are you feeling about it?


Clay: We feel good about it, we feel great about it.

Cadien:
We made a mix tape with a lot of our favorite kinda songs.

Name a few bands for me that have influenced you when it comes to making music.

Clay:
I probably wanted to start making music from The Velvet Underground. Big influence for me.

Jack:
I like Black Lips. That was really one of the first concerts I went to that like, made me really want to play rock and roll seriously. I like R. Kelly a lot, and The Beatles.

Cadien:
Those are all great. I’m gonna throw out Jay Reatard too - he was pivotal for me.

Connor:
Watching Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin videos, ‘cause like, playing live what made me want to play music more than anything.

What were the first records you bought?

Clay:
The first time I bought music was when I bought Dark Side of the Moon. It started playing and I thought it wasn’t working or something. It was the first CD I ever had, so I turned it all the way up. It just starts with that woman screaming, and it keeps getting louder and louder, it really freaked me out. I didn’t listen to it again for another three years probably.

Cadien: I copped Beatles’ 1 when I was a little dude, from my mom, and I blasted that for a long time.

Connor:
A Blink 182 CD, and I don’t remember which one it was, but I remember buying it and being super stoked about it.

Jack:
To be honest, I was a big Britney Spears fan, and had mad love for N*SYNC as well, it was probably one of them. It’s pop perfection, who can blame me.



Clay, tell me about those dance moves you do with your guitar on stage.

Clay:
For most of us, I think we would just feel uncomfortable standing there. I don’t know, it just seems natural to me. I know it looks pretty weird.

I did see you guys perform last year in LA for the first time. How do you feel about playing larger festivals and moving up the bill at such a young age?

Clay:
We’re so about it.

Jack:
We’re starting to play more festivals like these, and the more it happens, kinda the more surreal it seems that we’re here now.

Clay:
In places like this, the artist area, you get to meet people, even just for a little bit, and everyone’s pretty nice most of the time so it’s cool.

Who are you listening to right now?

Clay:
I’m listening to a lot of Kinks. I just got Kinda Kinks, and it’s a really good record.

Jack:
I’ve been recently really getting into Blood Orange’s most recent album, and I got to meet him for a little bit, and he’s fucking cool.

Cadien:
Naomi Punk’s new album is super great, like their first album, and more people should check them out.

Connor:
We played with this band on our first tour called Teenage Moods, and a week ago I just kinda stumbled back on their stuff, and Mood Ring is so cool.

Twin Peaks music

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Space Ninety 8, the Williamsburg, Brooklyn concept store from Urban Outfitters, opens its doors on Friday with an adidias pop-up shop in collaboration with the painter Jason Woodside, a Market Space featuring a curated selection of goods from Local Made artisans and designers, one-of-a-kind Urban Renewal vintage and a dedicated shoe shop (among many other things). We took a sneak peek at the space before the grand opening, where a team of young merchandisers from across the country was busy custom-building fixtures, hanging lights, handwriting signs and decorating the multi-story space with crystals, ceramics and plants.


Danielle, Store Merchandiser


Hi Danielle! Where are you from? I'm from the Roosevelt Fields store in Garden City, New York. 

What's been the best part about setting-up Space Ninety 8? Working with some of the most talented people in the company from all around the country and collaborating and pulling inspiration from each other. And working with the product—there's a lot of special one-of-a-kind pieces here. 

Do you have your eye on anything you want to buy? A Himo Art macrame wall hanging and the beautiful marbled ceramics by Bailey Doesn't Bark


Chris, Display Artist


Hi Chris! Where are you from? I work at the Studio City store in Los Angeles. 

What do you love about Space Ninety 8? I really like the space itself—it's unique. I feel like we translated the concept well. It has a really different feel [to other stores]. 

Anything you have your eye on that you want to buy when the store opens? The vintage metal shirts. 


Hard at work setting-up the rooftop bar, Top Deck

The view from the top

Erin, Store Merchandiser


Hi Erin! What store are you from? East Village, NYC.

What's your favorite thing about Space Ninety 8? The Urban Renewal shop.

Have you seen anything you want to buy while setting-up? A pair of Modern Vice boots. 


Ricky, Market Space Team Lead at Space Ninety 8


Hi Ricky! Where are you from? I'm a Brooklyn local.

What's the best thing about Space Ninety 8? The exposure for local artists. I'm an artist myself, so it's really nice to see.

Do you have your eye on anything to buy when the store opens? All the Salt Surf stuff!


Trevor, Store Merchandiser


Hi Trevor! Where are you from? The DTLA store.

What's the best thing about Space Ninety 8? It's an exciting concept—it's a lifestyle center! It's a cool place to hang out. I love the localization with the Market Space and the artist collaborations. I feel like you could spend hours here and not just shop. 

Anything you've got your eye on to purchase? There's some really special vintage mens pieces and the jewelry by young local designers. 


Urban Renewal Vintage

Nabil from Salt Surf setting up shop

Skateboards by Salt Surf, part of Local Made at the Market Space


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This month The Fresh List highlights a handful of people and places we're excited about in 2014. First up, one of the freshest new voices in photography, Joyce Kim. Los Angeles-based Kim is a guest poster on our Instagram throughout January, sharing a bounty of bright, beautiful behind-the-scenes images from our Get Fresh shoot. We chatted to Kim about what separates her from her peers, the personality behind her pictures, and her relationship with technology.  Interview by Ally Mullen

Photographs by Joyce Kim for Urban Outfitters

Name: Joyce Kim
Hometown: Scarsdale, NY
Location: Echo Park, L.A.
Occupation: Freelance Photographer
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Instagram: @jokimbo

When did you first pick up a camera? 
I have a horrible memory, so it came from wanting to record good memories. [It was] around 15 years old, when I was super angsty and just wanted a way to connect with my friends and surroundings. My mom did an incredible job at documenting my entire childhood, so I think I got some of that from her without realizing it.

Did you study photography at school? 
I took a class in high school and that was the start of my photo education. I went to art school in Baltimore and started out in photography, but I switched my major very quickly because I figured I loved [photography] so much, I would keep doing it on my own. 

How would you describe your work? 
Meditative, quiet, minimal, and natural.

Photograph by Joyce Kim for Urban Outfitters

What type of camera do you use the most? Do you prefer film or digital?
A Canon 5D Mark III I bought less than a year ago—up until that point I had primarily shot on film. I’m used to a digital camera now and I shoot with it the most often, but if I had it my way I would always shoot with my Mamiya 7.

What is the biggest influence on your work?
I’m most inspired by travel and new places, and I’m most excited to shoot in a new environment. When I’m on the road I always want to bring my camera; I’m so obsessed with the world.



Personal works by Joyce Kim


What was your first big break?
It was definitely my first job for FADER Magazine this past July when I photographed Sir Michael Rocks. It was the first time I going to have a photo in print; having my photo in a magazine that’s on real magazine stands. It was really the ultimate.

Who has been your favorite person to photograph?
Ty Dolla $ign. He was so generous with his time and hung out with me for the entire day.

Ty Dolla $ign photographed by Joyce Kim

Where are your favorite places you've taken photos?  
Japan and Korea.

Favorite time of the day to shoot?
It’s hard to deny the golden hour. If I can get up that early, really early morning when the light's just coming out… nothing beats the sunrise or the afternoon sunset.

Who are some up-and-coming photographers we should be watching out for?
Daniel Shea, John Francis Peters, Milan Zrnic, Stephanie Gonot, Amy Elkins, Zoe Ghertner

What do you think separates you from your peers? 
I used the word meditative to describe my work because it very much describes my process; I take a lot of time to consider whether something’s a good image. I don’t even want to post a photo that I think is even touching on mediocre. I only want to show my very best all of the time. I really focus on a strong composition instead of letting a celebrity carry an image. I want to make sure all of the elements are harmonious. I think that consideration and that ability to take things a little bit slower and sit with it translates through my work.

Photographs by Joyce Kim for Urban Outfitters

How do you keep your work fresh and continue to evolve? 
Technology! The acquisition of this new digital camera has been a huge inspiration and motivation to keep shooting. I think embracing new technology and realizing how powerful it actually is, is what's getting me excited again. All of it is very scary but important for my growth as a photographer.

What do you hope your photos convey?
I think every photo I take is a direct reflection of myself and how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking. I think the fact that I try to find a lot of stillness in my work, the overarching feeling is maybe taking a moment and trying to find something genuine. I want to shoot as naturally as possible, beyond just using natural light. I want to capture people and not pose them. Catching something real and making it feel genuine. 

What's the best piece of photography advice you've ever gotten?
At the end of the day, just always make sure it’s an image that I like and I’m using my own voice. Take all the rest into consideration, and stick to an assignment but not lose sight of an image that you want to shoot.

Who would you want to take your own picture?
Robert Frank. He’s incredible. It’d be him, catching me on the street.

When do you feel most alive?
I like when I hike to the top of something tall. I really like to get up high—walk, climb—and when I can look really far into the distance over a landscape… I feel pretty awesome.

What are your top five obsessions at the moment?
Green juice, my beanie, Canada, RunKeeper and seaweed.

What's coming up next for you?
Right now I’m heading to San Francisco to shoot a feature story for a magazine. Beyond that I’m just really trying to take control of my freelance life and travel abroad at least twice this year. And I want to just keep taking pictures!

Photographs by Joyce Kim for Urban Outfitters

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Budding photographer, cinephile and model (and star of Samatha Pleet's latest look book), Tara Violet Niami isn’t your typical college sophomore. She owns a leather prom dress and collects Victorian flea market finds, while her style is inspired by the changing fashions of the early 1900s and the young protagonists of Little Women.
Interview by Maddie Sensibile; Photography by Amanda Charchian




Hi Tara! Tell me a little bit about yourself, and what you're up to right now.
At the moment I am studying fine art photography at the Pratt Institute and I am also doing other photography on the side, like fashion photos. In my free time I’m modeling as well.


Tara for Samantha Pleet S/S 14 photographed by Jacqueline Di Milia

When you walk into your closet, what are some essentials you always gravitate toward?
I really like my black oxfords, which are just really classic looking and worn out because I wear them so much. I generally like flat shoes. I'm also drawn towards patterns and interesting textures.

How would you describe your style?
Old fashioned, but with my own modern twist on it. I’m into drama in my clothes, and feeling like I’m a character in a movie or book. People that I look up to, style icons...I’m really into the 1900s. I guess because it was a very restrained time, both in terms of how women had to act in society, and how they had to dress. People found a way to express themselves in interesting ways with their own personal style. Also, growing up as a kid, I was really inspired by Little Women, and the idea of these really cool girls who would wear long dresses but would get them dirty and adventure around--I wanted to be like them. I like the idea that you should have fun in your clothes, even if you’re wearing something feminine, and you can mess it up.





You clearly love vintage. Where are your favorite places to search for special pieces?
In L.A., American Vintage on Melrose. The Melrose Flea Market is also really fun. There's also Jet Rag, which has a one dollar sale, and in Westwood, where my family lives, there's an Out of the Closet thrift store. I’ve found amazing things there, including a cashmere sweater for ten dollars. Those places are my go-to places in L.A.

What's the most treasured item in your closet?
I have this rainbow harlequin skirt that was my mom’s. I love it because it’s so colorful. I think it's from India, because it has batik symbols on it. I’ll never let that go. She also passed down to me this leather dress that I wore to prom. It's '50s style in the front with corset lacing in the back. It's really special. I don’t wear it that much, but I want to wear it more. Another thing that is super, super fragile that I love is a hand-embroidered 1920s dress that I wore to my graduation. It has butterflies on it and it reminds me of The Virgin Suicides.



What's your approach to skincare and makeup?
I don’t really wear makeup that often, but when I do, I’m really into lipstick, like wearing a red or plum color. I like the classic look of lipstick. It can dress up outfits too, and make you look more sophisticated and elegant.



Who inspires you?
Photographers that inspire me are Diane Arbus, William Eggleston, Edward Steichen, and Amanda [Charchian, who took these photos] is really amazing. And my friend Shae Detar, she hand-paints her photos. A photographer I’ve loved for years is Ellen Rogers, who’s British. She shoots large format and hand paints her photos, and they’re incredibly beautiful. They look like they’re out of a dream. And I always go back to the films I watched as a child: The Secret Garden and the Little Princess had a big influence on me, and still do. Those rebellious, complex girls in dresses. I don’t know, I just really like them.

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NUMBERS





What started as a 2003 club night in Glasgow evolved into the record label we know today by the same name: Numbers. In honor of their 10th anniversary, we spoke to the men behind the music and talked to them about their past decade in the business.

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ALEXA CHUNG


Alexa Chung’s new book IT is out this month. We spoke to her about books that meant a lot to her as a child, her reading routines, and her plans to write a sci-fi novel.

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