When Marta arrived in the US for an internship in Atlanta, she sold her first painting on the sidewalk for $20 and soon set herself the goal of becoming a professional illustrator. Today she’s one of the most experienced watercolor artists around, with a distinctive, impactful style and her own range of pillows, scarves, clutches and tops under the Verymarta brand.
For Marta, the paint does the work, she simply manages it, and she loves how watercolors bleed and blend into both the paper and one another. She’ll often include little touches with pencils, crayons or a brush, adding graphic elements, lines or some rough shapes to round off a composition.
Whether in portraiture or still life, Marta really has a knack for expressing emotions in every piece. Her work is fluid, vibrant and immediate, and engages the imagination of the viewer. Influences include Egon Schiele, John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Annie Kevans and Jenny Saville.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Marta: I've always loved to draw and paint, but I was really intrigued by words. For the longest time I thought I'd be a writer and a journalist.Question: Do you have any formal design training? Marta: I wanted to go to Art School in Poland — after meeting with a professor and showing her my portfolio she suggested to apply. But I chickened out. I knew I didn't want to starve and this is what being an artist meant to me at that time. I studied journalism for a year and then 5 years of marketing (Masters). I also finished a 2 year college here, in America in Design Communications.Question: Where are you originally from? Marta: Poland, small old cute town, Jawor.Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Marta: I'm based in US, Green Bay, Wisconsin. My husband has a business here, so we have to be here, but planning on moving. Maybe Puerto Rico?Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? Marta: My studio is in one of my house rooms. It's my sacred space. Overload of brushes, tidy each morning (can't work in a mess). Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Marta: Georgia O’Keefe, Bjork and Elfride Jelinek. Women who plough their own path, unconventional, brave, contemplative.Question: How do you get your ideas? Marta: They just come to me. iPhone, a handy journaling tool is always on and records everything in the app I can't live without — OmniFocus. Music makes me really alive. And poems. Question: Do you collect anything? Marta: Not intentionally. But if you'd come over you'd see old books about women studies, watercolour books (Sargent, Wyeth), always a ton of paper and brushes. Oh, and a lot of fountain pens. Question: Do you keep a scrapbook? Marta: My scrapbook is my Instagram (@martaspendowska), I used to blog more, but people want snippets, so I share a lot and print my own books based on my online photos.Question: Tell us about a favourite project you've recently completed. Marta: I'm finishing up a big project for a Thailand beauty brand with a brief for over 80 botanicals and 100 letterings. I can't share more yet but the products will be released soon and the preview of the final look floored me. Can't wait!Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Marta: To be commissioned to travel and paint places, faces and food very relevant to that specific city/country. Question: Who is your art hero? Marta: Georgia O’Keefe. She never stopped exploring. This is the most important value for me & I love her quote "I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do".Question: What's the best advice you've ever been given? Marta: Stop crying, keep going.
Oprah Magazine, Norwegian Financial Times, House of Creed, Verily Magazine, Paperboat, AKASHA, Rockport Publishers, Moroccan Oil, Papyrus, METcolors, FAB.com, Deny Designs, Joss & Main, Pop.com.au, Gilt.com, You Art Me, Queen Helene, Y Media Labs, Ready366, Computer Arts,
Kavarna Coffee Shop
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
My mom's red borsch and potato pancakes
Honduras coffee by Luna Coffee
Poland; Jawor and Baltyk