Today we’d like to introduce you to Blake Silva.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always been dominantly right-brained. Growing up I would draw constantly; I would draw Pokémon, wild animals, stick figures, non-stick figures (that I won’t call bad because it’s all part of the journey), things around the house, you name it. I was enamored with expression. I did gymnastics, I danced. When I was in junior high, I picked up a camera for the first time and I experimented every day. I just wanted to make something. Those Pokémon I refused to trace, the amateur photos I took, and my yearning for color and light made me who I am today.
I pride myself on my passion to be better and I hone in on my crafts daily. I refuse to pick one thing and run. I took AP Studio Art for two years in high school, started my own photography business when I was 17 doing mostly portraits, and decided I wanted to go to school to be a graphic designer. I spent my whole college career getting hired to photograph weddings, engagements, surprise proposals, and TONS of graduating seniors. I studied design day and night all the while, so that I could have more opportunities post-grad, and graduated in 2018 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and concentration in graphic design.
Today I have a design agency job, a flourishing personal business for photography and freelance design, and I have a whole lot of fun doing it all. I have gotten to photograph a ton of cool stuff including an Echosmith concert and I have assisted on a Lululemon campaign. At my agency job, I work with brands such as Patagonia Provisions that make me want to dive deeper into a world where creativity meets activism and we create things that matter.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In a general sense, I am very privileged and fortunate, but I have had my own struggles on this journey. I worked at In-N-Out Burger for five years, pulling all-nighters in the art studios on campus (after closing at work) sometimes multiple days a week. I was tired every day in college, struggling with the concept of my future, with my personal life, all of it. That being said, the part of any creative journey that makes you sweat is when you get really good, and I wrestled with my creativity and passion the whole time; but I am grateful for that. Everyone struggles for different reasons. I think I speak for all creative people too when I say that this is probably the most under-appreciated industry to work in. People always want things for free and that’s really hard because while you want the work, you have to respect yourself enough to hold your ground and charge people. Once you break through that space, people won’t question you.
On top of trying to find my way creatively, I faced adversity being an openly gay man who — wait for it — also identifies as a Christian. I was working so hard to keep my head above water in school, but also to come to terms with my sexuality. Art in every form became my safe space where I was in control. I cling to all the talents and abilities I have because if people won’t listen, show them.
The trick to living a creative life is to never stop, seriously. Just keep freaking going. I am blessed (and cursed) with having passions in a lot of places. I am a photographer, graphic designer, singer and creative spirit that just wants to run free.
Please tell us about Create by Blake.
I branded myself as Create by Blake when I began freelancing after college, so it is essentially my freelance identity. I identify myself on my website, business cards and in person as a designer and photographer; not one or the other. As I find my place in a world of agency jobs, freelance becomes less of a necessity in every day life. My business is in an evolutionary space right now, so I make myself available for photography always, and freelance design when I can.
I think I am more known for my photography because generally there are more needs for it. I shoot a lot of live music, photos for musicians, couples, etc. I like that my graphic design ability is seen as an additional service I can provide and I kind of let my photography be at the forefront of my personal business. I get to do graphic design 4-5 days a week, so I like having my personal business flourish in the photography space. By no means does that mean my design endeavors stop; I am working on launching an online store where I will sell shirts, stickers, prints and more. I have a handful of sticker designs and challenge myself to hand letter and practice making designs for fun on a daily basis.
I am most proud of the connections I have made and the integrity of my work. I have never been an artist that over-charges, and I get great feedback and response from clients after jobs. I think what sets me apart is having the creative eye of a photographer, and the brain of a designer. Graphic design seriously relies on being a good thinker, so being both a good thinker and good at executing creative vision makes me stand out.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
It’s too hard to say one thing was my favorite memory, but I have a favorite theme. In my childhood, I was always, always encouraged to create. I lived in a home with a dad who is a graphic designer and mom, who is an interior designer. So my favorite memory from childhood is feeling like not only did I want to be creative, but my parents wanted me to as well.