Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Martina Sestakova, Textile Artist, Tells Her Story

My creative process is a matter of intuition. I am not sure how to capture it with words but I know when a textile pattern is done and when it is not. There is this feeling that guides me as my hand slides over canvas when I paint or as I take photos of textures, patterns, and colors. Painting and photography are the two main sources of inspiration for my fabrics.

My journey to becoming a textile designer is one of many twists and turns. Originally from Prague, Czech Republic, I now reside in Rockville, Maryland. My educational background may not suggest a direct link to my passion for patterns: I got my degree in intercultural communication and worked in healthcare marketing for about 9 years. The time behind a computer screen was productive, yet often lacked the creativity that I believe resides in my heart and mind. I went back to school and am currently earning a degree in fashion design. You know how they say one class can change the trajectory of your career? Well, I took a textile design class that did just that. So, here I am today running my company RADOST (which is the Czech word for joy) designing fabrics that I turn into fashion accessories, such as scarves, or home décor items, such as throw pillows.

Textiles tell stories. They tell stories of their creators, of feelings, of places. While I love painting and photography as media of creative expression, I just adore the added complexity of textiles. There is something magical about digital artwork printed on fabric. Fabric has a mind of its own in how it drapes, how it wraps around a human body, how it folds on itself. This is why I create, for instance, scarves. They wrap around a person’s neck and act as pieces or art, as jewelry. Every time they are styled with an outfit, they are different and that’s the continued story I wish to convey with my designs: the endless joyous possibilities.

I am totally fascinated with the world around me. Nature is the perfect artist as it provides breathtaking color and texture combinations, ones I could not come up with myself. My goal is to have my eyes always open. The creative process is intuitive; yet sometimes it takes minutes, sometimes it takes weeks. I may snap a photo and continually think about it for weeks. I may redraw it in water color, or I may just take a color or two out of it as inspiration for an abstract painting. Or, I may sit down and draw with an unconventional medium (glue, kitchen salt) and shortly after, I have a collection of textiles that express the precious moment of creativity and inspiration. It seems that most ideas come to me when I am outside, on a walk, looking up at the sun, or taking sight of an interesting detail.

The complexity of textiles has two aspects I consistently study in my work: its fluidity and its static nature. The fluidity is reflected in my scarf collections. The static nature is an aspect of my pillow collections. While scarves taken on new shapes as they are styled, pillows pose an intriguing challenge. How does one design a dynamic textile on a square that does not change and that won’t move? A few years ago, I watched a TED Talk by Emma Rogan. She talks about a 100 Days Project in which daily we conduct a similar task to really tap into our creativity and its possibilities. This idea is with me constantly, and that is how I approach pillow design. I view the square as an invitation, as a blank canvas I can fill up with joy and a fresh point of view. The shape of the pillow does not limit me; it guides me. I tend to stick to nature for inspiration in terms of shapes and textures. I play around with colors, as I believe those can tremendously affect how one may feel about the design. As with my other textile design work, there are endless joyous possibilities.

Since delving into textile design, I have met incredible artists and learned tons about the creative community. I find that people from all kinds of fields can easily become best friends because of their love for color or another creative element. I listen and I learn, and it’s been a rather exciting journey. As an artisan featured at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., I am both humbled by the world out there and incredibly excited about my future work.


This is Week 4 of 52 Artists in 52Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Martina’s story today. To connect with her and see more of her work, please visit the following links:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Patrick Smith, Visual Artist, Tell His Story

As a young child, born and raised in Washington, DC, I had two loves; art and basketball. As a child of the inner city, the outcome of my future was determined by how I spent my time. When I wasn’t playing basketball, I was keeping myself busy with a sketchbook. I strived to busy the body and the mind.

I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the Duke Ellington School of Arts in Washington, DC. It was there that my passion for visual arts was cultivated and explored. While studying at Duke Ellington, my love for visual arts blossomed more fondly into portrait art. While exploring this new found love, I often times found myself in the hot seat with my teachers when I could be found drawing my classmates instead of focusing on my assignments. I would get lost in the expression and tones of the human face, and wanted to archive it on paper.

I found that art was almost often my saving grace. From childhood through adulthood, it was the one thing that gave me peace and faith, no matter how difficult life had become. I even look back at photographs of myself and produce self-portraits based on those periods of my life; remembering joy and pain, and knowing that my brush strokes would memorialize these memories. 

In present day, some of my favorite subjects, like Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, respectfully) and Marvin Gaye, are those whom have struggled and overcome, and inspired social change.  Even as I grow older, I find myself drawn to images of global significance, often feeling connected to imagery of children and families in Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East, as seen in some of my more recent work.  It is the intricacies and nuances of human expression, struggle, and emotion that moves me in my art.

In early adult years, I also found a strong love for music. Being able to channel all of life’s experiences into something positive and productive was paramount. In addition to visual art, music and writing became that outlet.  I now enjoy creating music and art compilations; putting rhythm to what I felt when I completed a new project.

I am humbled by this opportunity to share the story of my passion, and I thank you for reading.

This is Week 3 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Patrick's story today. To connect with Patrick and see more of his work, please visit the following links:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lakshmi Mohanbabu, Artist, Architect & Fashion Designer, Tells Her Story

Having grown up in Afghanistan seeing all the destruction and chaos, cultivated a keen desire in me to create rather than to destroy, thus started my sojourn of design. I studied architecture at the Manipal Institute of Technology. On completing my degree in Architecture I joined a prominent architectural firm, Benjamin and Benjamin, in New Delhi.

However, I allowed myself to grab any chance that would give me an opportunity to draw, paint, or just create. I got work illustrating books with the World Health Organization, the Voluntary Health Association of India, and the National AIDS Control Organization, to name a few. The subject was very interesting and it gave me an insight into yet another aspect of life. My unconventional approach led me in yet another direction when I decided to study Fashion Design at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, a premier design school and the only one of its kind at the time.

The way I saw it there was no real departure from my training as an architect. Both Architecture and Fashion deal with the design of a protective space -- Clothing is the immediate space around us, and Architecture is the bigger space. Paintings and sculpture create focal points in the larger interior, or architectural space, just as jewelry and accessories create areas of focus in Fashion. The fundamentals of designing a painting a sculpture, a building, or furniture deal with an understanding of function, form, structural and material properties. Over the years I was able to connect the dots and delve into all areas of design.

Traveling and interacting with people from across the globe instilled in me a desire to share my worldview with a message that I believe would have a positive impact on people. As an artist, I feel I could spread a message for the betterment of society. Having extensively traveled in Europe and Asia, studying architecture and fashion design I was able to incorporate various cultural aspects into my world of art and design.

My experience teaching at NIFT Delhi and Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore has made me a perpetual student of Art, Architecture, Jewelry and Design for it is my belief that learning never stops. Having traveled the world with significant time especially in Europe and the Asia Pacific has enabled me to incorporate cross-cultural elements, philosophies and interactions in my designs, be it in painting, jewelry or art.

I believe I was born to study the history of art techniques and explore the unexplored reaches of fine art - not restricting myself to painting  - but in the design of jewelry, furniture, sculpture, shoes, building, clothes, etc. and create a new world. 

Over the last few decades of my journey, I have created a plethora of work in various mediums such as Pen and Ink, Pencil Color, Charcoal, Acrylic, and Watercolors. My paintings and jewelry have been in circulation with private clients for the past few decades. I currently have design studios in both Singapore and India.

This is Week 2 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Lakshmi's story today. To connect with Lakshmi and see more of her work, please visit the following links:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Katey Ladika, Photographer & Digital Media Artist, Tells Her Story

If you hear a photographer describe their work as My Life Through a Lens then chances are their images are as cliché as their word choices I am not one of those photographers. It seems I have a need to create, instead of just a mere desire for it and that has lead me to love the adventure for the artistic phenomenon.

Adventure. Such a simple word, yet it is a huge determining factor in my artistic style. Each day is a personal expedition into the unknown and, frankly, it has led me to new experiences and opportunities that I never felt possible. I spend a ton of time stepping outside of my comfort zone just because it makes me happy to be doing something cool. I like to describe it as a constant need for motion. I believe it was Newton who stated that an object at rest will stay at rest until acted on by an outside force... My art IS my outside force. If I'm not moving or exploring, then I'm not particularly happy. It's a blessing and a curse all wrapped up into one, but I think this weird enjoyment for the unknown is what has driven me even further into my passion for art and my love of photography.

My art. My art is my life, my passion, and my love. I have spent eight years getting as close to perfect as I possibly could with my work. I know I have a lot to learn in my field still, but I am excited to learn it. Oddly enough, while capturing the image, I do not see my subject matter as clearly as those cliché photographers I have mentioned above. Instead, when I put my face up to the viewfinder, I see the world as a mass of color and shapes. I use the abstracted image in my head to create my composition.

Though I may abstract an image in my own eyes, each of my photographs is done in an extremely strict fashion. I have my own set of rules for my photography that I always follow. As I have come to create my own personal style, I have determined the Dos and Donts for my artwork: Do add visual dynamics through shadows, dont have motion blur. Do allow yourself to have complete artistic freedom in your design style, dont rely on Pinterest for all your ideas. Do monitor all aspects of color in your image, dont forget about the classic loveliness of a successful black and white photograph. As you can see, it is easy to say that I am stricter toward my photography than most aspects of my life, but a strict photographic style is a large part of my tale.

How I edit certain pieces of my work is also a very important key in my artistic portfolio. I can spend hours upon hours dabbling in Photoshop just because it is something I enjoy. For that reason, (and the fact that I also create works of graphic design, desktop publishing, and videography), I tack on the title of Digital Media Artist as well.
Eight years have gone by since I first picked up a camera. Some would say, Well, what is eight years -- barely a decade, wars have lasted longer than that., but if we take the time to look at where I was when I started my photographic journey, a mere child with an eye for the more artistic aspects of life, then it may be stranger than assumed.

On a family vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, I found myself annoyed with the average beach surroundings. A wave here, a palm tree there, and a group of 16 people who were perfectly content with simply parking their behinds in the sand and staring at the sea foam. As I attempted to keep sane in the overwhelming heaps of boredom, I took my mother's Point-and-Shoot camera from her purse. A few hours later, my family was in complete awe at what I had captured. At the time, I was just eleven years old, but apparently I was using a camera like a seasoned veteran. I will be blunt in saying, eleven year old me didnt particularly care what my elder counterparts were saying, but when twelve year old me was given a camera for her birthday, my life changed for the better.

Growing up with an above average artistic talent was a strange occurrence. Throughout middle school I seemed to be coddled by teachers who thought it was cute that I wanted to be an artist, all the while they were trying to push me to try for a real career. Of course, the stubborn child I was never diverged from my path and continued to learn the photographic trade. In high school, I met a whole different perspective on my love and creation of art.

(Now, I wont say that I am good at photography. I will say that I like what I create and I am proud of it and that my images have also left me with 180+ art awards to my name, but, as with most things, some will love it while others will hate it.)

From an art teacher who refused to help me accomplish my dreams (actually telling me to stop entering my work into galleries and such because I should Leave it for someone else”) to people who actually were angry that I allowed myself to fully embrace my passion, I cant say that my life as an artist has been a walk in the park. Actually, there have been a great deal of hurdles I had to overcome before I was able to really allow myself to embrace the art world, but it is because of those hurdles that I have such a high level of respect for all artists in the industry and for the creation of all forms of art, in general.

After teaching myself for five years, I was given a full scholarship from Scholastic, Inc. to study Fashion & Commercial Photography at Maine Media Workshops and College in Camden, Maine in the summer of my Junior Year of high school. I spent the summer gaining a better understanding of the aspects of portraiture and I found that, hey, I was actually pretty good at it. Prior to that summer, I was a self-deemed Nature Photographer, but through my time at Maine Media I was able to find my true niche in the realm of Portrait Photography. It is sometimes odd to me to think that I had found something so incredibly important to me at such a young age and that I actually was successful at it, but I know that I am truly blessed with this ability.

So, with an eye for design and a passion for creativity, I first held my camera at the age of twelve. Nearly eight years later and a hefty amount of time spent behind the lens, my photographs have taken on a personality of their own. Mixing my knowledge of fashion photography and the strict ethical codes of photojournalism, I have left myself with the ability to capture moments like no other!

Currently, I reside in the beautiful mountains of the Alleghenies (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to be exact!) where I am completing coursework for the prestigious Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Robert Morris University. I hold the Assistant Photographer position at RMU Sentry Media and am the Photo Intern for Pittsburgh City Paper. My work has been showcased all of the United States and abroad, including cities such as NYC, Washington D.C, Paris, and London!

Finally, I find a vast importance to add a thank you to those who have helped me become an artist. The first being God, as he has blessed me with this gift and this understanding of the visual world and I am so thankful he has directed me thus far. Second, I must thank my amazing family. My mother, brother, father, and grandparents are always there to help me when I fail or assist me in the purchase of a new camera. They are my rock. Third, I must also give a huge shout out to my friends who are all amazing models and amazing inspirations. Thank you all. You make my world a little more colorful!

This is Week 1 of Artists Tell Their Stories 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Kateys story today. To connect with her and see more of her work, please visit the following links: