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Christine Castro is Darling

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Hi Christine! I think your spycats wallet is the “unofficial”, favorite wallet around the Poketo studio. We love it, tell me a bit about the design you did for that story.

Hi, Poketo! Thanks for inviting me to this interview and for asking me to participate in this 826LA project. I am so glad you liked the wallet designs, especially the spy kitty design. I was over the moon to get that assignment because I have always had a thing for spies–whether it’s old spy films from the ’60s, those early episodes of Alias or, yes, Harriet the Spy. Mystery, intrigue, travel, love, adventure, I love it all. As my homage to one of my favorite spies, I thought it would be fun to model the wallet after old James Bond film posters. I enjoy imagining the cat as 007, the beaver as a spy who loved him, dogs as the conspiring bad guys and the tropical island as Bond Kitty’s secret getaway spot.

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If you could meet the young authors of the stories you illustrated for the wallets, what would you like to tell them?

Camellia and Brian, I love your stories. It’s a challenge to capture so much detail and action in a single paragraph, but you both did it wonderfully. Keep writing and sharing your stories. Stories are powerful. They inspire, engage, entertain and connect us. And, like yours, sometimes they make us laugh, and everyone can always use a good laugh.

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You have your own design studio (Darling), you draw, you build website, and you blog. How did you get involved in all this? Were you always involved in the arts? What is your background? How did you start Darling Design, how would you define your aesthetic and mission behind Darling?

I come from a family of artists. My mom is an architect, my older brothers Tom (www.lust.nl) and Ricky (www.ifthenstudio.com) are designers and my father, while not an artist himself, is a big fan of the arts. So yeah, art has always been a huge part of my life. As a child, it meant making my own paper dolls and greeting cards and doodling in the margins of my notebooks.

I was always making art in one way or another, but I didn’t know it was something I could do for a living, so in school I opted for the “practical” route. I got a degree in Communications and American Studies and pursued a job as a newspaper reporter. After a year covering city council and school board meetings, I felt burnt out. (Who wouldn’t?) I wasn’t being creative enough and my spirit was suffering. At this same time, I’d discovered the web and was excited about the new medium. So I decided to switch gears and got a job as a web production assistant at a magazine publishing company. That’s where I rekindled my love for design. A few years later, my friend, Sabrina Ward Harrison, asked me to design a web site to showcase her beautiful art work, and my freelance career was born.

When I found myself focusing more on my freelance work, I realized it was time to quit my job and start Darling Design. That was 3 1/2 years ago. I can hardly believe it! I continue to work with artists and designers, as well as small business and boutique owners. I design logos & business identities, web sites and custom stationery & invitations.

It’s funny you should ask about my aesthetic, because “darling” has become the way to describe my work. I have friends and clients who come to me, send me an image or show me a product and say, “It’s so *darling*!”

As for my mission, I don’t know. Pay the rent?

On your bio, your 15 seconds of fame began with Maganda.org. What is Maganda.org? How did Maganda.org begin? Where does the name come from?

Maganda.org is my personal web site. I started it in 2000 after journaling online for a few months on one of those free sites (www.gurlpages.com). I had seen and admired some web sites created by talented writers and artists, and I thought “I could do that.” All the domain names I wanted were taken, so I chose a word in Tagalog (the Filipino national language). Maganda means “pretty.”

It has evolved over the past 8 years from a site with several sections to a journal where I tell stories, share some art and photos, and stay in touch with my friends and family.

I know Maganda is an award winning site, tell us about that, what fanciness were you awarded?

Maganda.org was nominated for a Webby award several years ago. It was the first year the Personal Web Site category was included, and a lot of people didn’t even know that there was such a thing. I remember having conversations at the awards ceremony that went sort of like this:

“So what award are you up for?”
“Personal web site.”
“So what’s your web site about?”
“Um, me.”

My site has also won smaller web awards and was featured in college writing text books and magazines.

What about Sari Sari??

Sari Sari (www.sarisari.org) was a collaboration between me and my friend Erlina Tulabut. We met in journalism school and edited the college newspaper together, so a few years later we thought it would be fun to work together again and make a zine. We decided on an online format to save trees and staples. We were able to interview some pretty cool, but our day jobs got in the way and our enthusiasm died down. Sometimes, we talk about reviving, so you never know.

It seems you love to share your life–friends, food, love, family. I love your flickr! You also host parties and gatherings at your house quite often. There is such a warmth in your work and in your home. Art is often an individual expression. It seems your art, projects, the things you make come from this desire to connect. Would you say that is true? Is what you do for others?

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I think that’s very true. I grew up in a household that was always hosting vacationing guests, dinners and parties, and I like having people around. Now that I have a home of my own, I like to host crafternoons, Wii parties, movie marathons and dinner parties. There is a warmth that lingers long after the guests have gone, and I love that.

Maybe my work and my life are about sharing and expressing that same warmth and joy. I like to make people happy, whether it’s by feeding them a cupcake, inspiring them to make art, sharing a good laugh or giving their work a voice through design.

You share a home studio with your husband, Rama Hughes. You are the subject in a lot of his work. Do you ever use his likeness in your work? Do you guys ever collaborate on illustration projects? Or any projects?

We collaborated on our wedding invitations 2 1/2 years ago. We drew childhood portraits of each other, which became the basis for the design. We also recently worked on our first web site project together for our friend Debby Herbenick (www.mysexprofessor.com), which should launch very soon. Hopefully there will be many more Christine-and-Rama projects in the future. In the meantime, Rama stars very prominently in my sketchbooks.

What is a normal day in the life for you? Where do you find inspiration? How do you divide your time with clients, your own illustrations, your blogs.

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There is no such thing as a normal day in my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel like the beauty of being on my own is that I *can* work in my pajamas or at a coffee shop, take long lunches with friends and go on field trips in the name of research. I will be the first to admit that sometimes, though, I am so busy with client work that the most excitement I get in a day is making conversation with the bag boy at Ralphs.

I find inspiration everywhere. I think a more interesting question is where *don’t* I find it? Hmm. I can’t think of any object, medium or place yet…

If you could dream up a perfect day, what would it be?

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A lazy morning reading a magazine and drinking coffee by a sunlit window. A trip to the farmer’s market. Lunch with Rama at one of our favorite spots. Some time to read, doodle, write, collage, shop, laugh. A home-cooked meal with dessert and more coffee. Music, dancing and more laughter until I drift off to sleep.

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Last but not least, what are you excited about coming up? New projects, food, trips, anything that you want to share with us so we can get excited too?

I am working on a series of True*Stories, which incorporate my art and writing in one piece. I launched the first print this summer. I haven’t been able to introduce a new one as often as I had hoped, but I do intend to release at least one or two more by the year’s end. I want to make more art and more cupcakes–and maybe, someday, a book.

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Check out all the wallets from Poketo + 826LA.
Visit Christine at www.maganda.org

Tagged with: 826LA Interviews

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