“There’s something very special about keeping it black and white. It’s very common, and you can’t hide.”1 When I first laid eyes on Shantell Martin’s illustrations, that visual part of my brain that’s really good at playing Memory immediately jumped to Yuka Choco Moo and Kesh.
All three are young female artists that have earned their own in the art world. You might’ve caught one of their solo shows in New York or L.A., London or Paris.
Yuka Choco Moo via Quiet Lunch Magazine
All three have found inspiration abroad. Shantell from London lived and worked as an illustrator and performance artist in Tokyo for some time and now lives in Brooklyn. Kesh also began in the UK and now makes her living in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Yuka Choco Moo is from Kyoto, now based in Tokyo, but often finding herself traveling far and wide for exhibitions, collaborations, and performances. She mentions in an interview, “There are so many things that influenced me in the U.S. When I went there, something inside of me opened up.”2
The overlap that caught my attention the most (maybe because I’m a fan of both) is the place each of the artists has made for themselves in music and fashion. Yuka Choco Moo performs elaborate live drawings at concerts and in high fashion store-fronts. Kesh has served muse to and been influenced by designers and musicians like Jeremy Scott, Kanye West, and Azealia Banks. (She also recently released a line of clothing for American Apparel.) Shantell Martin has collaborated with design brand Suno featured in Vogue just this past summer, among LaneCrawford of Hong Kong and dozens of others. She has also performed live drawings on music stages.
Kesh via Instagram
I’ve wondered what it is about working in black and white that makes these artists not only stand out, but also what makes them in such high demand for fashion and music collaborations. Clean lines, minimalism — maybe it’s as easy an answer as the simplicity of black and white working similar to a blank canvas. Like Shantell says, black and white is like “common” ground — something we can all relate to and jump off from.