An Artist’s Quest for Reinvention

It was a Saturday night when Yari and I went out for an easy outing. She’s my sister in law, and we’ve known each other for what feels like a lifetime. We’ve been roommates for about a month while she’s relocating the whole family closer to me in South Florida. It’s a monumental task to say the least, since coordinating all loose ends has been complex. We needed to chill, so we headed out into the city with little expectations.

Lincoln’s Beard Brewery received us with live music as we squeezed into a little corner of the bar downstairs. We ordered our beers as a Jesus figurine hanged from the wall, quietly watching and sending us a good dose of good vibes. The bar is decorated with all sorts of paraphernalia, and it was funny to also see a picture of Nicolas Cage randomly looking at us. I chuckled. It’s been hard times of adjusting and slowly turning the page on what seems as a new chapter in our lives, so we were both just enjoying ourselves as we said our hello’s and how are you’s to the people seating next to us.

Yari is an artist; she lives in colors and the associations made on those colors. Her inner world feeds from the quiet experimentation with tools while incorporating whatever new design or idea she wants to investigate next. In her college years it was all about the strokes on the canvas; nowadays it’s about the strokes in Photoshop with the Wacom Tablet. Times have changed and like any smart professional would do, she has adapted to those changes as well. I am genuinely curious about the creative process of anyone who is doing anything interesting, so with our beers finally in our hands I asked, “what makes you want to create anything?”

“It’s a compulsion, I can’t help it. Sometimes I start drawing something that makes no sense and takes me nowhere. Other times, the idea flows.”

She told me about her early years in school and how she made it into the School of Architecture of Universidad de Puerto Rico. This is my island’s finest and most recognized higher learning institution, so it was a pretty big deal to have made the cut. She was very proud of it. “But soon enough a professor took note of my wild designs and bluntly said that I was really a Fine Arts student. He redirected my route.”

Like most things in life, it takes interventions like these for us to be able to see the way forward on a much clearer way. The early versions of ourselves lack so much self-discovery that it takes a good, loving eye to discern this on us and nudge us on a new direction. For Yari, this meant going deep into herself the only way Art allows her.

“There’s something about the Fine Art’s experience that would make me so anxious though. The vulnerability required to put out the real art that speaks from your soul paralyzes me. I am able to design whatever client wants me to design and not take it personal. If they trash it and make me redo the whole thing, fuck it, I’ll do it. They are the ones paying me. But if I am showing a piece of art that I did because I felt like doing, I really don’t care to know what others think. I am not willing to put myself in such a place for another person to criticize what belongs to my heart.”

Lately, however, her interest has geared towards a completely new endeavor: sneaker design. The opportunity landed on her lap, one of those happy coincidences I was writing about earlier, where desire and action meet at the right moment. She applied for a sneaker design internship with Asics and, to much of her surprise, her portfolio was received with great interest. She traveled to Portland for a month and immersed in a whole new path that had her connecting with other designers as eclectic in their styles as hers. It was the beginning of the next phase of her artistic expression.

As we went on to our second round of beers, the conversation geared towards what is available to her right now. “Designing sneakers hits a sweet spot, since I get to be concerned with structure and materials, while keeping the colors and aesthetics in mind.  It is a challenge for me since it is a step up from branding and package design, which is what I’ve been focusing on all these years.  Now I have to be involved with the construction of the item itself, which is pretty cool.”

The brewery had gathered a good crowd by the time we finished our conversation.  We joined the live music singing our hearts out, enjoying the night out.  Like art, much of the good parts of life happen when we surrender to a moment.   Letting go of expectations and exploring the thing that is calling us to move forward.  For Yari, the path led her to unexpected experiences.  I wonder what would be available if I just let go, and wander out myself.

Yaritza’s sneaker portfolio can be found HERE.

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