Birds have always captivated the human imagination – whether we’re being dazzled by their capability of flight, their plumage, or their sheer beauty; birds have forever been a constant source of inspiration. And for Holland’s Myrte De Zeeuw, they’ve become the focus of her beautiful bird cushion range. Since 2008 Mryte has been illustrating photorealistic birds and printing them on one-of-a-kind cushions for the public to enjoy. From the cheeky chickadee to the regal kingfisher, she’s used vibrant colours and a brilliant eye for detail to bring these feathered beauties to life. As the first British retailer to stock a select range of Myrte’s cushions, we’re so proud to be featuring Myrte in our third Mora Spotlight.
1. Myrte you illustrate such beautiful and vibrant birds! Have you always been an illustrator?
Thank you! I was trained a fashion designer, and I have worked in fashion for 10 years. I always wanted to be able to draw and I never thought I could build a business around it. But I wanted to break free and do something that had my name all over it.
2. What’s your design background? How did you get to where you are now?
My family is creative, but always as a hobby next to a 'real job'. My family didn't really get it at first. I was walking a path they didn't know. I sort of had to find my own way in that. But that was good for me. It taught me that even though I didn't get much response at the start, the feeling of wanting to do something creatively in a company of my own didn't go away. Some people told me that at 30 I couldn't just make a career switch, and some asked me where I'd downloaded the images.
3. You live in Eindhoven, in The Netherlands, what’s it like to live there?
It is nice, comfortable and quiet. People here are generally friendly and welcoming. When you get on the bus people say ‘hi’. There's a small town friendliness here. I have lived in other cities in The Netherlands, but I have always been homesick for Brabant. It is ‘soft-Netherlands’.
4. Do you have any advice for any budding illustrators or designers looking to create a range of beautiful textiles or cushions?
Hmm, I would say just start somewhere NOW! You probably will end up in a lovely place, but not necessarily where you planned to be. I never started out with the idea to get here. I had four directions I wanted to explore. And illustration was one of them. I did fashion illustration too. But in the end you need to find 'you' in your work. And nature was the thing missing for me. So explore!
5. What’s involved in a typical day for you?
I get up and I jump on my old bike go to my studio in the old Philips factories! I got the chance to rent a space there last July and I just love to be there. I still have to decorate the place. I do everything, from sales, to packing to shipping. I really have to make time to draw. The inspiration to draw comes in waves. When I get inspired I can't do anything else. So it is a good thing I have two interns helping me out soon. It's hard to think about sewing dresses for orders and drawing a new bird. I like to work in blocks. First a day drawing, then a day sewing samples, then a day sales. But working on a good schedule is always my challenge.
6. What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t doing this?
Still working as a commercial fashion designer, but I would probably shift over to trend forecasting.
7. Based on your lifelike drawings you must love birds! Did you ever keep them as pets? How do you render them so realistically?
Well I love nature, and the wild. My love for squirrels is just as big, if not bigger. I LOVE squirrels, and any rodent for that matter. As a child I had guinea pigs, rabbits, a dog and a pet parakeet too. It was my brother's actually, but he went to university and I kept it in a open cage with the guinea pig in my room. They had lettuce together and were real buddies. Now, I think a lot of animals are not suitable as pets and we should just keep them in the wild. Just watch the animated movie Rio and you'll know. My work is an ode to nature and I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to drawing – that’s why it is so realistic looking… But that is also why one drawing takes two weeks to finish.
8. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
Hmmm I have had some horrible bosses, so it would always be an improvement. The decision-making is not such a struggle. No discussions, I always get my way! And the time I get up, a BIG perk; 8.00 instead of the 6.30 I used to set my alarm clock to.
9. For someone who’s never been to Holland, where would you tell them to go?
Oh that is a tricky one. If you're looking for nature come to the Strabrechtse Heide, or the Kempen in general. I love Friesland and its small cute houses too. The flatness of the land and the water is beautiful there.
10. What Dutch food would you tell them to try?
POFFERTJES! With creamy butter and poedersuiker! (ed note: They ARE amazing!) How I love poffertjes! Fat and sweet is a winner for me. For on the road: Arretjecake, mergpijpjes, roomboterstroopwafels en koetjesrepen. Just check your arteries after every bite.
11. What’s next for you on the horizon? Will you try any other illustrations besides birds?
For now I will stay with birds but I will look at more flora-type illustrations, and blend them in more. And I will look into new bag designs and perhaps clothing designs too. And bedding. And housewares. And tablewares. Or at least I really hope I will be able to expand!
Thank you Myrte - you can be sure we'll be following your avian-empire very closely! To see Mora Approved's range of delightful Myrte bird cushions, click here!