We sat down with Raquel da Silva, painter/designer extraordinaire and Toronto Artscape Foundation Launchpad Bursary recipient to do a dive into her creative practice, process and experience at Artscape Daniels Launchpad.

When you look at Raquel’s portfolio, you’ll see the work of a talented artist with a distinguished style executed with expertise and finesse. Though she’s been in the game for years, it took some experimentation (and even some trial and error) before she figured out what style and medium really struck a chord with her artistic journey.

The Meaning of Things by Raquel Da Silva

Raquel has always experimented with different mediums of creating. When she was younger, she took a liking to drawing which translated to street art as she got older. After a few attempts in school, she pursued an animation program. While she quickly realized animation was not the medium for her, her biggest takeaway was that she really enjoyed creating visual stories. From there, she shifted her focus to painting and design in hopes of creating those stories.

Collaboration with NIKE x AJ1

Now, Raquel has collaborated with an impressive roster of clients on big design projects. When asked about her career highlights, she took an interesting approach and told us frankly that the good and bad moments of her career have all been noteworthy for her:

“The moments when things were quiet and not so great with work taught me patience and persistence. As for the good moments, I’d say the projects I did with Nike Air Jordan and some of the large-scale commissions (like Artscape) were fun.”

Just this past summer, Artscape Atelier commissioned Raquel to illustrate an abstract “flipbook” along the bike path at the Lakeview Village construction site. The mural, Follow the Eagle, explored themes of reconnecting with surrounding nature, specifically nature that is native to the Mississauga community. Check out the ride-along of Raquel’s flipbook, and a short video about the piece.

As a member of the Launchpad community, experimentation continues to be a theme in Raquel’s creative process. Being a Bursary recipient has opened the doors of experimentation in many ways; for one, she has the opportunity to work with different technologies she normally wouldn’t have access to, such as the TC2 digital jacquard loom.

“Having access to many different machineries in one space opens a lot of doors for creativity.”

Along with access to cool new tech and machines to experiment with, Launchpad has given Raquel invaluable opportunities to meet many of the talented, like-minded and driven individuals that make up the Launchpad community — some who have even become more permanent partners in creative projects. “[Being part of Launchpad’s community has] taught me the importance of collaboration and opening your creative bubble because you never know what might come from that.”

Here in my Garden, I am Alone – Installation for Artscape Daniels Launchpad x HXOUSE

The community has even helped her out during COVID-19, with her friends and peers connecting her to different work and exhibition opportunities she wouldn’t normally have access to. Raquel does her best to return the favour. “As a community, we should be here to support each other’s growth and success.”

You can see more of Raquel’s work here, or follow her on Instagram @raquelnaia.

Written by Maesha Ahmed