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There’s something about Myrte

November 2nd, 2010

Filed under: ART & DESIGN

Some sources of Myrte de Zeeuw's inspiration

Myrte de Zeeuw is actually an established fashion designer at a large international company based in the Netherlands, but like everyone, she needs to escape the hectic pace of her professional life: she finds solace in her little bird subjects. The idea to start drawing them came to her while on a business trip in New York (as you do). A Northern Flicker crossed her path. Entranced by this encounter, it triggered her to tell his story. The story of Myrte’s sweet love affair with birds can also be read here or watched on the video below.

In Dutch, the word “kunstenaar” has different connotations than it does in English. The word means “artist”, but this is too big a word for Myrte to carry. She can accept the title “vormgever”, designer. But “artist” either means someone with a deep social and historical significance with something profound to leave behind in the world, or it’s the wife of a man with too much money, who has little else to do than dabble in oil paints, wear turbans and noisy jewellery.

Myrte came from good stock, stemming from Amsterdam grandparents who made the move to Eindhoven in the 50s. She was taught that “the professions” were the sort of future that mattered. But when she was inspired by her drawing teacher at high school making her lean in the direction of fashion design, let’s say there were a few ruffled feathers in the family. Shy young Myrte surprised even herself when she went off to fashion design school. To keep her family’s wishes for her at bay she chose a particular course which gave her very practical skills such as the construction of clothing, a deep understanding of textiles and a commercial nose; this grounding has served her well throughout her long-lasting fashion career to date.

But what do her birds give her, that goes deeper than fashion? Myrte is quite pragmatic – despite having mixed with fashionistas for more than a decade. She understands what authenticity is. To express herself, she has found her birds to be an outlet to help herself show who she is to people she doesn’t know – with the utmost eloquence. The process, the eyes, the sense of observing the histories of what lies within these little creatures and the attention to detail seem almost to be therapeutic to her. Her motivation is neither technical nor ornithological – her stories about her birds come from real meetings with her feathered friends. An honest fascination with her subjects. Watch the movie to see how she produces her art and the range of products she has to sell at her Etsy store.

Myrte and I talked a lot, and long, about many things, and one of Myrte’s self-professed battles is the one with her uncertain nature, which translates into her self-declared tendency to be overly critical. But I see what a gift her birds have given her, to help her spread her wings, and be sure of every step she takes on this path. When she showed me her plates, prints, cushions, jumpsuits and prototypes of all sorts, there was nothing but humility and modest pride in every gesture that she made. It’s an inspiring thing to witness: true healing and self-awareness, through art.

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