Interview with an Artist: Marta Spendowska

Interview with an Artist: Marta Spendowska

One of my absolute favorite things to do is to discover talented Artists, who inspire the world with their creativity. The pleasure is double when they happen to come from Poland. Oh yes, I always get crazy proud of fellow Polish, who with their talent and determination make their way into success. And today it’s going to get very inspiring around here. So please sit back and enjoy the moment of getting to know my lovely guest.

A Polish, US-based illustrator, pattern and web designer Marta Spendowska whose beautiful watercolor work totally stole my heart, is definitely an example to follow. Like many of creative minds out there, Marta had a very non-creative start as she did not believe she could make a professional living as an Artist in Poland.Studying journalism first, thengraduating with Masters in Marketing and Management and then having a dead-end job eventually pushed her to hop on the plane and land in the US, where she understood, America is a place to follow her dreams.
 “I sold my first painting in Atlanta, sitting on the pavement, across of the Whole Foods. That was the moment when I realized how different it might be to pursue my life as an artist in US.
Marta runs two businesses – PolishLab (a web design studio) and V E R Y M A R T A (Art and textile design) which are the extension of her lifelong interest in visual arts and marketing. Apart from her incredible talent and ability to run her own business Marta is a very outgoing and happy person whose positivity is contagious! So let’s get to know her a little bit better!

Tell us a little bit about your background – what led you to moving from Poland to US and becoming an illustrator? 

Poland led me to move from Poland! As sad as it sounds it horrified me to stay there in 2004/2005 and work in the corporate world. I 2002 I came to US for the first time for my internship and after spending 5 months in Atlanta/GA, painting, going to museums, experiencing this crazy land and the most open people I’ve ever met I got a feeling and a realization that it’s my place to flourish. But I had to go back to Poland and graduate which I did very soon. After that it wasn’t easy to find a way to go back to US; once you are not a student anymore the possibility for getting a visa is slim. Time went by, I started working a boring job and after this not so glorious time I decided it’s the end of conforming, so I I got very crafty and I managed to get that visa and leave.

It’s been 10 years already. Since then I waitressed for my ex-president Lech Walesa, I polished toilets at Citgo, thought yoga and finally received another degree from US (design), which gave me enough groundwork for pursuing entrepreneurism and art.
I’ve worked in design for ad agencies and now I still provide design services (PolishLab) but mainly illustration. I’m happy to be now represented by a leading international illustration and animation agency Illustration Ltd with offices in London, New York, Hamburg, Paris and Shanghai. This means I don’t deal with contracts and back and forth emails anymore; my job is to paint.


How would you describe your work?
These days it’s very client driven. The assignment comes my way and my job is to respond. I try to indulge in a healthy does of self-initiated work of course. I like it to be fluid, a bit imperfect, with bursts of color and line. It’s a mix of fashion and abstract, because I like to pay attention to shapes, landscapes of watercolor pools and the energy it generates. I must say I’ve been lucky to know that my work moves people; very often I get emails from different parts of the world telling me how my work influences someone to grab a brush or be well (literally, health-wise because of the joy it brings). Sometimes I can’t even believe…Long gone are the days when I though I draw for myself.
Where do you look most for inspiration?
I follow few blogs I love (In The Make, Art & Culture, Saatchi, The Great Discontent) and I have a healthy collection of books and magazines. I should say that that it’s possible words and music inspire me the most. Classic literature (one of my gems is a very old book from 1922 Beautiful Girlhood by Mabel Hale), seeing Bjork work her magic, reading Polish literature, seeing writers sing their poetry, feeling lonely (because Polish sea and family is so far away), listening to music (you must check this piece here) and a glass of wine is enough to put me in a mood for painting.

Chelsea Fullerton / Go Forth Creative

Can you give us a little insight into your creative process, from start to finish?
All my work starts on a watercolor or mixed media paper. If I know I’ll be creating  a fine art piece, it’s only an Arches or Fabriano watercolor paper, but if I know I’m doing a small drawing that will be pieced together later on, I might use scraps or mixed media. I tent to switch between pencil and crayon for initial drawing. Lately, I started loving my pencil showing up a lot under the paint. It feels like I’m showing my fingerprints. I paint with high quality materials, because I know that some pieces must be archival.
I think a painting mostly paints itself. My cherry candle is lighted, I have my glass of wine, and I proudly go through few of my favorite pieces of work to stay within certain boundaries and I go for it. Can you believe I’m paid to just go for it? 

How has your style changed over the years? It’s more free. It’s mine. I used to paint a bit in acrylics but I stopped and focused on more spontaneous watercolor. Then I used to paint only in transparent media due to a rigorous rules of entering judged shows, but I dont enter anymore and I tend to grab for different materials now. What a freedom. I’m much more confident in my style and so my work naturally became more instinctive and improvised.


Which other artists inspire you and who are your current favorites?

My favorite artists and Schiele, Sargent and Georgia O’Keeffe. When I saw her painting in Atlanta’s museum in 2002 I cried. My second cry was because of an original from Pollock. Seeing original work, reading about the artistic journey of the artists, knowing few of their secrets is very voyeuristic but for me, almost as interesting and important as just watching their art.
My favorite contemporary painter is Annie Kievans (who just gave me a shout out on Twitter and I almost fainted!) known for painting controversial series of Boys, portraits of dictators like Hitler and Pol Pot as children, and another female painter is Jenny Seville known for her paintings of bodies and meat, all lonely and almost medically depicted. I’m drawn to female artists and melancholy of the body and portraiture. These two women make me pause and be moved. I’m not the one who likes birds and sunset art.


What are you currently working on and what can we expect to see in the near future? 
There is a lot going on for me right now. Usually I can’t talk publicly about projects I’m currently indulged in but there are portraits for a beauty brand, spiritual abstracts and a lot more in the workings. Please, keep you eyes open on my fun collaboration with a brand founded in 1760, House of Creed; we’ll be releasing 7 illustrations with their perfumes and landscapes that inspired the new scents of Acqua Originale Collection.
I’m also hoping to release my #100FashionGirls book this year as my personal project. I’m still deciding if I should self-publish or pitch the book to the publisher. Today, life is full of love (paraphrasing Bjork) and dreaming is a form of planning (paraphrasing Gloria Steinem) so I imagine all the time and make my to do lists vigorously.



What was your greatest success in your business experience?

I think having a full page in Oprah Magazine is pretty insane. This Polish girl from that tiny Polish town appeared in Oprah! I’ve been quite established until then but this feature was just so good for my ego. 

What advise would you give to all the creative people trying to find their voice?
I get a lot of emails from other artists who ask me this question, so I created an advice page on my website (here). The most important thing to keep in mind is that this journey, if it’s supposed to be a professional one, needs time and devotion. I often say I tend to skip some parties and a new season of a favorite show because my focus is art and expansion in this area. So, there, stop watching Two and a Half Man and get working!
Thanks Marta, for your time and sharing your thoughts with us today, it was a pleasure getting to know you and your creative process!

To see more of Marta’s work make sure to view her beautiful portfolio (here)
Have a great week guys!


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Insanely beautiful and it’s always great to have a little insight into Artists life, especially when it’s so inspiring. I recently watched movie about Pollock and I enjoyed it as much as his work, so I can definitely relate to the crying 😉
Have a great week! x

    Aga Tinca

    I agree! It’s on my movie watch list 🙂

    Marta Spendowska

    Ha! Idada, seeing the “behind the scenes” is so interesting, right? We always want to know how “this” (talent, situation, opportunity) was born.. Thank you for reading!

Karolina z HOUSE LOVES

very creative person I didnt know about but thank you sharing – she is awesome

    Aga Tinca

    I’m very honored to have such a talented guest on my blog 🙂

    Marta Spendowska

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Marta Spendowska

    Karolina, such nice words! Thank you! Much love <3

Marta Spendowska

Thank you so much Aga for sharing our interview!

    Aga Tinca

    My pleasure Marta! Thanks for being so awesome and share your thoughts with us! 🙂

    Marta Spendowska

    My pleasure Aga! Hope we’ll meet again, here, there, everywhere 🙂

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