I saw an Exhibition in Madrid in October 2013 about the concept of upcycling. It featured intriguing art and photographs about the idea, sparking my interest in it. Embracing creative reuse, upcycling “is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful”. This was something I could get on board with.
Ever since then, upcycled art, jewelry and decor had always been on my mind but it was finally at this moment when the stars aligned to bring it front and centre to my attention. I feel serendipity, "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way", brought me into contact with Gabriel when I selected a seemingly random coffee shop where he happened to be working one late 2017 winter afternoon in Montreal and upcycling came back into my life in a way I couldn't ignore.
While Gabriel prepared me a café con leche, we chatted about his family, his past, his business endeavours. Gabriel designed and made one-of-a kind pieces made from recycled materials. He was turning junk into useful household accessories and decor. He was adding value in a creative way, with his quirky, post-modernist flair. He was looking for someone to sell his products online and I just so happened to appreciate what he was creating and in a position to do so.
A few weeks later, after another coffee meet-up to go over his pieces, Gabriel picked me up from the Cartier metro station on a rainy Friday afternoon in Laval. We drove across the river again to a satellite community of Montreal, a town where Gabriel and his family decided to seek refuge several years ago. Having lived in Venezuela for many years in a medium-sized mountain town called Merida, the family wanted to live in a quieter place with more privacy and nature.
He invited me into his his quaint A-frame home and, more importantly, into his workshop. Though it was the definition of organized chaos, there was also seemingly a place for everything, while everything was in its place.
Necklaces hung on a shovel in mid-air. Cookware beside lamps, beside pots, beside whatever. It was wonderful for a creative, down-the-rabbit-hole workspace. In this place, anything goes. One person’s trash is another’s treasure. In Gabriel’s work, in his workshop, in his world, that was certainly true.
We took pictures of every lamp, every candle holder and clock. It went efficiently and successfully with both of us working together. As I reset and checked out photos, Gabriel swapped out the products from the shot. It was effective; we took 250 photos of perhaps 50 different products in a matter of two hours, with good lighting. Gabriel had a blanket that just happened to blend perfectly in tone with the blue background colour of the walls. Everything seemed to work out in our favour that day.
These are the first pieces I am releasing through the New Light Design Collective and this short story was the beginning of many similar experiences I hope to share as I grow this family of artists with their own shared vision, to turn one person’s trash into treasure. To make something, once old and discarded, into something of value again.
Meeting Gabriel got me back into thinking about how I could learn from others, support other artists with my knowledge and resources, and create an online and In-Real-Life community of like-minded entrepreneurs. That I could provide others like myself a service and experience that would be beneficial on all fronts. Art, online entrepreneurship, networking, marketing, community-building, story-telling and business management, New Light Design Collective would allow me to do it all. The universe had presented me with an opportunity to nurture multiple parts of myself at once.
Through the Collective I hope to provide the kinds of services to those artists that don’t have the time and interest to manage their online brand, presence and sales. Starting with Gabriel, who wants to be free to focus on what he knows best and wants to spend his time creating his art, through this project, everyone wins. Most importantly I hope to gain invaluable hands-on experience from my successes and failures, make new friends through the community that this project will become and learn as much as I can along the way. Please follow along for the ride! :)