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: