Als voorwoord verschenen in Collections by Martine Brand, tijdens New York Fashion Week, september 2014

‘ Sometimes the smallest things can take up the most room in your heart.’ A.A. Milne

Our world is filled with beautiful people who create beautiful things, for us to admire and enjoy. But every artistic expression starts from within, as an outlet for emotions, opinions and thoughts. And every artistic expression is shaped by the countless sources of inspiration the artist collects throughout life. The smell of autumn leaves, the sight of a scenic sunset, a ravishing young woman or a staring old man: the list is endless, as inspiration can be found everywhere. At any time. In every little thing. In the things we love, and in the things we don’t.

To inspire means to give rise to something, to create something or to affect others to do so. Not surprisingly, it also means to breath in. But our artists show us it’s not just air we breath. Every day our five (or six) senses inhale all that’s around us. And that’s a lot to process. So how do artists pick their favorites, among all these billions of possible sources of inspiration? A highly philosophical question really, that I – being a journalist – am continuously prone to ask. Whether I like it or not. Because people want to know why the artist of their liking prefers roses to lilies, or seventeenth century paintings to contemporary street art. So I keep on digging.

The many artists I’ve spoken to in my career, usually have a clear answer to what inspires them: other, renowned or unknown, artists they admire, nature, old people’s wrinkles, beautiful fabrics, bright colors, the smell of the ocean. I’ve heard it all. But they hardly ever know the answer as to why these are the things that inspire them. They follow their heart, and their art is the result. They just love the smell of the ocean and old people’s faces make them smile. For no apparent reason. They just do.

Of course, every one of us is shaped and nourished by our surroundings, our family, our friends, our cultural background. They become part of us, naturally. Unconsciously. And then you notice that every time you pick up a pencil, you draw beautiful faces of people you’ve never met. That every time you sit behind your piano, you play mellow, jazzy tunes that make you feel all warm inside. All you’ve inhaled throughout life, you exhale through your creations. And through those creations, the world can see what inspired you. You can see what inspired you.

The question as to why has automatically become irrelevant. Because the artists I’ve met, merely have the irresistible urge to create. And to share their creations with the world, in the hope that others will enjoy them, love them, find peace and comfort in them. Artists are solitary social workers. And it’s just not important to know why. I find it truly inspiring when an artist reminds me of the beauty of an old, wrinkly person, while I’m obsessing over my first grey hair. I’m thankful when an artist reminds me of the grace of a beautiful flower, while I’m worrying about making a deadline. Art makes me a happier person.

So thank you Martine, for inspiring us with your beautiful, refreshing illustrations and gorgeous little paintings, for all of us to simply admire and enjoy.

Claudia Ruigendijk – Art & Culture journalist for Vogue Netherlands