Rebel Feature: Caitlin Snyder, Designer & Painter

Designer on orange loveseat living room

Caitlin Snyder left Santa Barbara, CA (“the most beautiful place on earth!”) for Boston about ten years ago to begin her undergrad education in art and graphic design. She fell in love with the New England area, but still makes the trip back to California twice a year. While at home in Cambridge, she fills her days with her creative professions and pursuits, including designing stationery, apparel merchandising and curating her beautiful apartment. When we first received our shipment of Freedom Flags, we asked Caitlin for some expert styling inspiration. Read on to learn more about her—and to steal some of her styling tips for yourself.

Tell us about yourself!

I currently work as an Apparel Department Manager at Anthropolgie and with Paper Moss as a stationery designer. Both jobs allow me the creativity that I so desperately need, but in such different ways that I feel like I am stretched to grow. Working on a computer, using spatial and computer skills can be so different than physically merchandising a 600 square-foot space with product and whatnot.

Sounds like you're very busy! What do you most like to do on your days off?

On days off, I try to spend time with my husband, Zach. We just got married this past summer and our schedules are so different that we could go a couple days without really seeing each other. He is much more of an intellectual, so we don’t necessarily “create” together, but we are able to talk through art history and philosophy, which is something that I greatly miss from studying art in college. We also do house projects together, like replacing the countertop in our kitchen, or mixing up the wall art. I guess nesting is never compete.

Painter Caitlyn Snyder

How did you get into design?

Sort of by accident. I was a painter in high school and always saw myself studying painting. I even applied to the art department at my college as a painter. However, when I got my class schedule during my freshman orientation, I was in Design! I guess my portfolio had more “design-y” thing in it. Honestly though… I am glad I never switched. I realized that I would probably never make it as a painter and I loved graphic design. I loved its rules and grids. I loved its blocked-out color, and I loved that I could paint (so to speak) within my designs.

Do you think about going into business for yourself? What might that look like?

I believe that most creatives want to work for themselves. And I very much hold true to that. I don’t think that dream is for right now or in the near future, but eventually I desire to start my own business. I love design and working with stationery, so I assume that would be the direction I go in. It’s crazy because I am so terrified of even thinking about starting my own business. I’m fearful that no one will like my work, or me, or that I won’t get clients. What if I fail? What if I screw up something and someone sues me? It's sort of dramatic, but nonetheless, these are real fears. I love working with clients, and some of my favorite people I've met because I designed their invitations. That is more of what is important to me: making a connection with a client and having this amazing relationship throughout their designs. It changes everything! The best way to do that is to start local and have sit downs, coffee, cocktails and just get to know each other. If I were to ever start my own company, starting small and local would be the first step… as I write this I am wondering if I am planning my business model right now.

How do you stay inspired?

Staying inspired is so difficult. In fact, I forgot how hard it was while I was studying—I was surrounded by and engaged with art regularly. Now I really do have to seek it out. Zach and I have a Museum of Fine Arts membership, and we have aimed to go twice a month. That alone has been so inspiring and encouraging to get me back into the “art world.” I keep around books that help me understand what it means to be an artist, from an antique book on aesthetics to different artists’ stories of their struggles with creativity (or lack thereof). Knowing that I am not the only artist who has dry spells is encouraging.

Visiting restaurants, cafes and even antique stores is another way to stay inspired with design. I am such a nerd, but restaurant menus fascinate me. Since I love layout so much, I am so impressed with food menus. I mean, c’mon—we all know when we are looking at an amazingly designed dinner menu and when we aren’t! I also love interiors, which is probably the reason why I have curated my apartment.

How do you keep your place so well edited?

That is a great question! I probably keep my home edited because I constantly have to get rid of older stuff to fit new stuff in. I try to keep my home within an aesthetic idea that any piece could live in any room. I used to love everything vintage, but each room felt cluttered and mentally over-stimulating. I have since tried to streamline and clear out certain rooms to just “breathe” better. Like our bedroom—at one point it was my “art room” and office, complete with three random desks, a chalkboard paint wall, and open closets. It was the worst space to actually sit down and get anything done. Now that it’s a bedroom, the closets are covered and the walls are white with minimal decor. It is so helpful to have that space within the house that is bare compared to the rest.

Do you have any home decor tips for the rest of us?

I think one thing that Is important is to have a “narrator” for each room. The one piece (a couch, a painting you found at a flea market in Quebec, an antique sideboard that belonged to your great grandmother, etc.) that tells the story for the room. When you find that one thing that you can have as a focal point, then it is easy to build “support” around it. For example, a narrator of my living room is the orange velvet loveseat. I have had this thing for years, because I couldn’t pass up the amazing deal it was. The color is rich, the frame is sturdy, and I love velvet! So everything was sort of built around it. The art on the wall was placed to compliment the color and draw your eye up the space. I have neutrals that don’t detract and the green antique chair compliments it as well.

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