Culture: Art meets fashion – Marta Spendowska

This piece started when an art director from The Norwegian Financial Times contacted me for a series of illustrations on Stella and 2 hours later I was at the drawing board.

Marta Spendowska is a Polish-born, American, artist and illustrator with a diverse artistic resume from working with art collectors and consultants, to interior designers and fashion and beauty brands. She prefers to work with water-based materials: watercolor, acrylic paint, or ink. Watercolor is her preferred medium because it is immediately responsive; it reminds her that life does not allow for “do overs.” The only certainty is here, now. The fluidity of materials allows spontaneity, with no plan or obligation other than to react to what is happening with that particular paper, that brush, that moment.

It was the Stella McCartney piece that caught TWAIN’s eye – a fusion of fashion and art. Because that’s our motto day in day out. We spoke with Marta on this beautiful commissioned piece…

On the Stella McCartney piece

It was commissioned by… The Norwegian Financial Times who were doing a piece about Stella and her collaboration with Adidas. I was commissioned to paint her portrait and few fashion looks.

Hours involved... Wee hours! I love to illustrate in the evening really. Total hours spent— I am not sure. Some wine, few podcasts.

Materials used… Watercolor, pencil, cleaned up in Photoshop and wine (of course!).

The inspiration was… I love how she feels to me — a hot ice. I was inspired by her reserved eyes and a strong, very recognizable smile and mouth. I wanted her to look straight at us, to emphasize her aptitude and focus, the same as her career.
The colour palette… I had freedom but I wanted to incorporate some blurry black, which you’ll find in her top. The cool pinks were essential for her face.

On life as an artist

Art to me is… Everything. My life is about art. Making it, experiencing it. Most of my bodily experiences come from either making or seeing art. I physically feel connected to what’s invisible. It has nothing to do with skills and how I manage materials. It’s all about the spiritual cord with which I’m connected to the expression via a visual form of art.

I have always looked up to… Strong women. Georgia O’Keefe (her focus, the way she treated her work), Bjork (the visionary), Louise Bourgeois (obsessive making, the meaning of art in life), Danielle LaPorte (for her heart and mind connected by bursts of genius), many women who do their thing.

My favourite piece… I’m currently developing a body of work called Prophet Series. My favorite is : “Where flows the river like a heart unbounded“.

I’d love to experiment with… Getting away from anything except painting. I’m currently researching residencies to focus on painting alone.

I learnt from… My experience. I’m a trained designer and I have Masters in Business but I’m a self-taught artist. Well, self-taught by experience. Coming from a small town, from a small weird country pushes me forward. The experience of not having much, doing something from nothing, leaning on the unexpected turns in my life to progress, as an artist.

I am inspired by… Bałtyk Sea, Polish poetry translated to English (so different!), Georgia O’Keeffe, fog and mist, next year.

Career highlight… First — Oprah magazine — an illustration and being interviewed as a contributor. Second — having collectors in the whole world. Third and recent — my collaboration with Danielle LaPorte on her 2016 planners. If you get one your life will take the Only Right Turn. Trust me!