New York Creatives Take Shantell Martin’s Bicycle for a Spin


You’ve probably seen Shantell Martin’s distinctive drawings before — on clothes, on walls, on Converse — as befits her “draw on everything” style. And now, thanks to a collaboration with the bicycle company Martone, Martin’s work has taken to the New York City streets anew with nine custom, hand-decorated bicycles, which were then handed off to nine New York–based creatives and cultural influencers, from Guggenheim associate digital marketing director Jia Jia Fei to Wythe Hotel curator Kimia Ferdowsi Kline to skate shop artist Ty Lyons. In conjunction with Artspace, we asked each participant to take us to a place in the city that inspires them — and, once there, asked a few questions about the specifics of their spot and creative life in New York overall. Check out their answers, below — and of course, to see even more of each rider’s two-wheeled journey, follow the #shantellmartincycle tag on Instagram!


What is the significance of the location you chose?
I first started coming to Wythe Hotel when I got hired in September 2012. I needed a way to help pay rent and support my art career, so I responded to an ad on NYFA for a front desk position. The first time I came to the hotel was for my interview. Lucky for me, I was offered the job, and a year and a bit later I transitioned into curating the art collection.

At the time, I had just moved back to New York after a year of living abroad in India for a painting residency. My apartment had just flooded (twice), my husband had just started grad school, we were broke and tired and busy. But this place was like an anchor for me — a home away from home.

How has New York inspired you professionally?
I get really inspired by collaborations and the coming together of great minds. Living in New York has opened the doors for me to meet other creatives and be part of things much bigger than myself. It’s also incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by so many museums and first class galleries/artists. When you’re surrounded by the best art in the world, it forces you to try harder and do better in your own studio.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen while cycling around the city?
I saw a guy on stilts in the middle of the street once. That was pretty crazy.


JIA JIA FEI, Associate Director, Digital Marketing at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum—THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE


What is the significance of the location you chose?
I bike across the Brooklyn Bridge everyday to get to work. The ride (and view of the city) are best part of my day.

I first started biking to work a few years ago, unknowingly, on National Bike to Work Day. Complete strangers were giving me free coffee and high fives on the bridge, so I figured it’s something I should start doing all the time.

I only like to bike across the Brooklyn Bridge before 9 am after 9 pm — otherwise, it’s death by tourists with selfie sticks! If it’s late enough at night, the bridge is super empty. I have a lookout spot at the center where I make a pit stop, take in the city skyline and all of the lights.

Why do you like cycling in New York?
Though there are times I fear for my life, biking in New York is truly the best way to see the city. You’re always in control; never waiting for a train, waiting on an Uber, or trying to hail a cab to your next destination. It’s also one of the rare times I truly have to myself; not talking to anyone, not checking my phone, not in front of a screen. Just me and the road.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen while cycling around the city?
I’m always super impressed when I see people biking with their pets (in baskets or backpacks). One day (when she’s ready) I’d like to take my cat out for a spin.


WILL THOMPSON, Clothing designer at XXBC and personal shopper at Opening Ceremony—DOYERS ST, CHINATOWN


What is the significance of the location you chose?
My friend Jordan is a New York kid, so he knew all the spots to go, and this area is the main spot he would always take me. I think it’s great for people-watching; it’s great for inspiration.

I think it’s funny to see people walking in this area because they don’t know it’s a dead end. Half the time they don’t even know it’s a club or there are restaurants around here. This is one of the places where I can actually sit down. I feel like other places you go in the city, people are always everywhere, there’s no room to just sit and stretch your feet and just chill.

It is definitely a tough city, and it’s crazy because a lot of people come from overseas and abroad — and they’re like “how can you leave New York?” But I think if you’re here for a while, sometimes you need that breakaway, because it’s a lot to handle. That’s why, in the downtime I do get, I’m usually in this area. It’s pretty serene for me.

How has New York inspired you professionally?
The big thing about having a brand and having things produced in New York it’s really tough. Finances are a concern, but I feel like I surrounded myself with a pretty good base of people, so things I’d normally have to pay for they’d do just off the strength of supporting the brand.

We don’t have a showroom, we don’t have any types of representation. Social media outlets have been our PR, but there are still a lot of people we need to reach. But this is something I think New Yorkers pride themselves on — if there’s something you really need and want to get done, you’ll find a way to get it done, whether a friend’s going to help you out or if you need to maneuver around some plans. Because there are always challenges — even when things are going well, there are always going to be challenges.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen while cycling around the city?
When I cycle I like seeing other cyclists and checking out their outfits. I saw this one lady the other day with crazy yellow onesie. I feel cyclists now have become a lot more aware in terms of what they wear.


ERIN WAHED, Founder and designer of Bande des Quatres—THE HIGH LINE
BICYCLE high line

What is the significance of the location you chose?
The High Line is such a great place to spend some time relaxing when the weather is nice. Now that The Whitney Museum opened there, I’ve been dying to check it out, especially since they carry my jewelry.

Are you familiar with Shantell Martin?
I’ve been a fan of Shantell’s work for a while now and was so excited when I got to meet her last Christmas at the Neuehouse pop-up shop. We both had booths selling our work. She was live drawing on people and she graciously did my arm. I loved wearing her work. It would have been quite an amazing tattoo.

Why do you like cycling in New York?
Citi Bike has made riding a bike around New York City one of my favorite things to do in the summer. The landscape and architecture of each neighborhood inspires me and influences many of the Bande des Quatres designs.


JOEY JALLEO, VP of Culture and Communications, Standard Hotels—CROSBY ST, SOHO


What is the significance of the location you chose?
Crosby Street is where I first became a New Yorker, in Manhattan, when I arrived here 18 years ago. It was near my first job, and where I acclimated to the city. This one stretch of Crosby Street — which is ultimately a back alley with cobblestones, stone pillars, and garbage — is sort of a behind-the-scenes look at what happens on Lafayette and Broadway.

This was the heart of Soho in the mid-90s, as it is now, and it was one of the most incredible times, when Soho was beginning to shift over from this gritty artist neighborhood to its current gentrified state.

How has New York inspired you professionally?
It’s a kick in the ass moving to New York and trying to figure it out when you’re not from here. New York City is one of the most aggressive learning experiences. Learning just the day to day, for instance, hailing taxis — I didn’t know the light had to be on on top; I kept trying to look into the backseat to see if it was empty before the cab whizzed by.

New York is the media capital of the world, it’s the cultural center of the world, it’s the capital of everything. It’s the easiest place to be able to dip your toes in art, fashion, business, culture and entertainment — everything is at your fingertips on this one island, which makes everything you want to do that much easier.

Why do you like cycling in New York?
There’s something really freeing about cycling in Manhattan. One of the first times I rode it was about 2 in the morning. We were all going from a bar in Tribeca up to a bar in the East Village and someone had their bike and he was a little drunk and I told him to let me ride it for him. It was one of the most incredible experiences flying up Broadway against traffic on this hot summer night. It was a spectacularly beautiful moment.


ZEYNA SY, Writer, art publicist—MOTT ST, NOLITA

Zeyna_SyWhat is the significance of the location you chose?
I love riding past places I’ve heard in songs and actually being here. This spot in Nolita is important to me because the first job I ever did in New York, where I worked in the same office as Lorenzo Martone, it was on 73 Spring Street. This is also the spot I know the most now. This is where I bring people who are not from New York.

I’m a loner — I really enjoy spending time on my own. Around here there’s so much I can do on my own: I can eat by myself, I can walk the streets, there’s always something to see, and if I bump into someone I know, I can have a quick catch up and keep it moving. There’s places like Lovely Day that I always used to hang out at, and Café Habana.

How has New York inspired you professionally?
I love the energy here. You don’t feel it anywhere else in the world. Even though I’m born and raised in London and I love London it just doesn’t have the same feeling. I can work as hard as I want, but I can also be as chill as I want as well, and here I can be more balanced.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen while cycling around the city?
The strangest thing I’ve seen riding in the city is a guy dressed in all newspaper — he has a headpiece and a little skirt thing. I was wearing stockings that day, and he said “You gotta run in your stockings, chocolate”! The “only in New York” line is so true. I’ve never seen anything like that, ever.


YALE BRESLIN, Writer, editor of Industrie—FEDORA


What is the significance of the location you chose?
Fedora in the West Village is a special spot for me. The proximity to my apartment is amazing (it’s right next door). I think when you live in New York, you set your boundaries — everyone has their local delis and drycleaners and whatever.

And I think there’s something super sexy about it; it’s underground, it’s the perfect spot for that late night drink you really shouldn’t be having and — especially seeing it’s right beside my apartment — you really don’t know where the night could go. It’s amazing food and drinks, and I like to support the local community. And then I can stumble home.

I think in New York often we lose sight of the human connection and often things are in big groups – big meetings, big conferences, big parties and fashion shows and there are so many people in one big space at once and you really don’t get the one on one time, and I think Fedora is so conducive to one on one conversation. I think the atmosphere is really good for reconnecting.

How has New York inspired you professionally?
I’ve been living here for about 6 years. I’m Canadian, so moving here was a great opportunity for me. I honestly just don’t think I could do what I’m doing in any other city. When people say things happen in a New York minute, they actually do. The people you meet here have such drive and creativity, they want to excel and be the best they can be and everyone’s driven and really hungry. I feel like as a collective community, this is where I thrive.

Why do you like cycling in New York?
I love nothing more than biking through the city and seeing my friends on the street. I think there’s something really special about it. Once I saw my friend on the street, and we never really bump into one another, and he was on his bike and I was on my bike, and we both parked and went to get a drink together. It was the perfect New York summer afternoon.



BICYCLEWeatherbeeWhat is the significance of the location you chose?
This particular bike path is in the middle of so many different neighborhoods. There’s the Lower East Side, the East Village, we’re right next to Chinatown and Soho, and I think coming to this spot and being in my neighborhood is just a source of inspiration. I consider it a crossroads of everything that is interesting and special about living in this part of New York. This is truly a place where artists live, and it’s also home to everyday families.

How has New York inspired you professionally?
I grew up in Minnesota and moved to New York over ten years ago now, so it does feel like home. It has an energy, just stepping outside your house everyday there’s a million details of every day life to see.

New York is very competitive, and there are a lot of very talented photographers out there, so I think the challenge is building up a portfolio that really speaks about what you do best. Honestly, when I first moved here, it was really about finding my style and figuring out what I was really drawn to photographing — and I think New York is great for that.

Why do you like cycling in New York?
I love cycling in New York — it’s such a fast way to get around. You can be here in the Lower East Side and in ten minutes be in the heart of the East Village which is a completely different feel. It’s so much more special to me than taking the subway. Being in a car, you don’t get the wind on your face or get to absorb the sights and sounds of the city.

Cycling is just such a great way to take in a neighborhood using all of your five senses. With the kind of photography that I do, I can be out and about in every day life and absorb everything down to the smallest details, and cycling is a great way to do that.


TY LYONS, Skateboarder, artist at Supreme skate shop—LAFAYETTE STREET, SOHO

BICYCLELyonsWhat is the significance of the location you chose?
I used to go to elementary school down here in Soho, but living in Spanish Harlem, it opened my eyes to a different world — like, “Right, I can chill uptown but hang out downtown.”

It opened up doors for a whole bunch of other things like meeting new people, getting more into art. I got to travel because of just being down here; I started skating and met people through the place I work at. Otherwise I would have been selling drugs or locked up or something. I met people through mutual friends and now have best friends all over the world. That’s very rare for someone from my neighborhood. I know people who have never left my block — they call 86th Street “downtown,” like they’ve never been to Brooklyn, and that’s ridiculous to me.

Why do you like cycling in New York?
I like getting into trouble. The kid in me will just go the wrong way in traffic. Skateboarding in the city is sketchy as hell but it’s fun, it keeps you alive, in a way. It keeps you on your toes. You get to see stuff, you get to feel. Being in a car you get carsick, you never get bike-sick or skateboard-sick. Being in a car you’re confined in a place you’ve gotta sit in traffic. You don’t have the same traffic on a bike or a skateboard, you just blaze right through it. Red light? I’m gonna keep going.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen while cycling around the city?
The strangest thing I’ve seen while I’ve been riding around is a naked person on Second Avenue, racing. I see the weirdest things ever, always. I just try to block it out.

I guess the strangest thing I’ve seen in this city is this city. And keep it like that. Keep the kooks up.


The interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.

— Anneliese Cooper (@DawnDavenport)
with reporting by Kiron Heriot-Darragh

(Photos: Kiron Heriot-Darragh. Photo of Kimia Ferdowsi Kline by Simon Courchel.)