By Anita Goharfar
“Local”: a word that has found its way into our twenty-first century vocabulary as we frown at the growing hold of mass consumption, and in return place a newfound emphasis on what it means to be sourced from a place of familiarity.
“Artists”: a maker, a do-er, and a creator of sorts; a person who seeks to find his or her place in the creative realm, whether with a tool as complex as a camera or as atypical as typography.
What happens when these two powerful words come together? Who is a “local artist”? Is he or she any different than the renowned artists we hold in high praise or the newcomers learning the basics? I have to admit, I don’t have an answer to this question, nor is it an easy one to answer. However, I’m starting to learn how to tackle this, so there is a lot to be learned from aspiring designers and artists such as Christina Silva, who themselves truly define the term.
Part-time faculty and alumni Cristina Silva graduated from Northeastern University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Interactive Media. Originally from Boston, she transferred into Northeastern from Fordham University and soon began to thrive in her work and in the campus community. During this time, she founded Scout, an organization for designers and creative thinkers with a strong entrepreneurial drive. But to Cristina, design is more than just studio work. She incorporates her passion into her newfound hobby, pottery, as she brings together crafting skills and influences from her surroundings to create unique bowls and mugs. And just as most of us can relate to, food plays an important role in her life. From cookbooks to experimenting with new recipes, she uses the skills she learned in college and through co-op to constantly expand the scope of her art.
Just as all artists have their own studios, offices, or even corner coffee shops, Cristina has a special place where she creates. Her current position as Senior Product Designer at BevSpot allows her to work partially at home. And this home office is like no other. She works surrounded by her favorite inspiration posters, string lights, cozy throws, and plants that create an energetic vibe in the room. This environment gives her the perfect opportunity to read the works of her favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, or make works she is most proud of, one being front-end development for bars and restaurants.
Cristina considers herself a designer, and not necessarily an artist. She consumes, but she also creates and she emphasizes the importance of collaboration as a source of inspiration. For example, she sports tattoos with a meaning, but also cool works of art such as those of Justine Wayne, Hannah Medeiros, and Magic Mallo — an artist by whom she will soon be tattooed — who motivate her to travel as far as Paris to materialize the aesthetics of linework. And Paris is not an unusual destination. Cristina has had the opportunity to travel all over the wold, from a dialogue in Berlin to visiting family in Italy and other — often solo — ventures to Iceland, Lisbon and Amsterdam. Alongside linework, Cristina is extremely passionate about typography. Her belief, which I find truly eye-opening, is that design must be made for its platform. So when she plays with fonts, she must consider, How does this font fit this web app?
Design, she expands, “is positive. It makes you happy. It doesn’t need to necessarily be intense.” That is something we typically overlook at a place such as Northeastern where the why is the driving force in our education. I asked Cristina to describe her why using only three words; a question I can barely answer myself. She responded: intention, delight, and pride. Because after all, good, thoughtful work influences people and regenerates satisfaction.
Retreating back to the original purpose of highlighting artists such as Cristina Silva, it is crucial to assess how these local artists interpret the term themselves. Cristina connected it to her concern for the role a city plays in deviating artists from living in expensive places such as Boston and New York City. With the pre-existing concept of the starving artist, how do we welcome back these talented people?
And of course, like any other artist, Cristina has her own notable preferences that give individuality to her craft and her personality. The following Q&A is a glimpse into Cristina’s lifestyle:
Q: What is the one tool or tech you can’t live without?
A: Kindle/Kindle App
Cristina enjoys reading and listening to audio books such as Swingtime by Zadie Smith and cookbooks such as Salt Fat Acid Heat, which she highly recommends as all you need to know about cooking.
Q: What is your go-to song/artist?
A: Drake, Emmett Kai, Phoebe Bridgers, and of course Ariana Grande’s new album
Who can resist hits like “break up with your girlfriend” and “7 rings”?
Q: If you were to revive a fashion trend, what would it be?
A: Candy Jewelry
Just like me, she is very much opposed to the revival of tiny sunglasses. How do you even wear those? Am I supposed to be squinting this much? That being said, candy jewelry is a must; What’s better than having hip, colorful accessories, as well as a snack on you at all times?
Finally, I asked Cristina for any advice she may have for students and even artists. From her own personal experience, she encouraged us to “keep making things” even if there is a gap in the craft. I consider Cristina a local artist, but not in the connotation that hinders her reach. From the time I spent with her and the works I’ve seen, she is a force. She constantly designs and exercises her craft in every aspect of her personal and professional life. But most importantly, she taught me that local is not necessarily small. And an artist is not always a painter or a photographer. Through words on a website and in hobbies like pottery, Cristina illustrates that it is always important to return to art if that is the dream, and her words “don’t stop making things” are a compelling phrase to live by.
Check out Cristina on social media:
portfolio: cristinasilva.com code pen: https://codepen.io/cristina-silva instagram: @ohaicristina