Local artist Rita Silva introduces her crafts
As a young adult, Rita Silva left her hometown of Lagoa to pursue her studies firstly in Portalegre, where she graduated in Graphic Design. With her passion for her chosen path intensifying, the young artist moved to Lisbon, where she gained a Masters in Design and studied Drawing and Illustration at the prestigious Belas Artes college. Rita then had the massively exciting opportunity to join the Park West Gallery from Miami as an onboard representative. This experience was fundamental in her quest to be an independent artist, as the training and connections she made while travelling the world auctioning art on a cruise ship.
Back on terra firma, Rita returned home, where she found a job with a local design company that allowed her to begin working on her projects while earning a salary. In 2016, Oficina da Rita was born and continues to evolve as her ideas and inspirations mature. “I love to draw and paint, and I needed to find something that would stimulate me, allowing me to be creative and at the same time, make some money,” said Rita.
Her range is extensive from fashion accessories to ceramics, to textiles and most recently, even homemade soaps. Rita enjoys making her range of bespoke, hand-painted fashion accessories from Portuguese-sourced woven handmade baskets. There are two types of baskets with long or short handles that the artist receives in their natural state and paints either custom designs for her clients or from her own range. Each basket is unique, even the ones from her image bank as they are hand-painted, and it would be almost impossible to make an identical piece. “I’ve had some enjoyable commissions so far; the latest one was a quirky David Bowie piece, that was a lot of fun to do.”
Rita has duplicated her designs from baskets to mugs, and some people like to commission a specific design across her ever-expanding range collection. “The totes are 100% bamboo, and I use cirography on them, which allows for slight — for lack of a better word — imperfections which makes them all unique,” she explained.
Rita is careful about finding the right suppliers for her materials and buys Portuguese, environmentally friendly, natural products whenever possible. As art is organic, so is the direction of her collection and her inspiration. You can tell that there are many dimensions to Rita’s skillset not only by the images that she creates but also by the wide selection of objects with which the artist works. Recently she has started to paint on wooden panels and making clocks. These pieces are stand-alone, one-of-a-kind wall art with the added functionality of telling the time and kind of sum up what the artist likes to do: Taking everyday objects and transforming them into personal, usable art for every occasion.
Within the selection of items that Rita brought along with her, there was a gorgeous smell coming from somewhere. She had some tiny, delicate homemade soaps that were hiding inside a little handmade soapbox, of course, painted by her. The soaps were made of natural ingredients and first devised as a dear family member had been suffering from a skin complaint. After using the soap, their skin cleared up. The soapboxes and soaps are something of a work in progress and will most likely be in the form of a wedding favour or similar.
As her business grows, Rita is being asked to do all kinds of weird and wonderful commissions but ideally what she would like to do is to push forward with her core items. This is not to say that if you have something specific that you think she could work her magic on that she wouldn’t do it. It costs nothing to enquire, and depending on her commitments and inspiration; it could well work out. Working from her studio at home in Portimão, Rita is surrounded by her work and always busy creating something.
You can visit her site and see if there’s anything from her shop that might tickle your fancy, or get in touch with your idea. Rita speaks English and Portuguese fluently.