Original Interview: February 2017

Stocksy United

Who would have known that Nuno Silva, VP of Product at Stocksy United, was a raver. Growing up he was fascinated by the rave scene and the crazy flyers that promoted them – he put his hand up to volunteer to design a few and years later was still freelance designing flyers on the side. Here we talk about, raving (of course), changing the stigma of stock photography, and taking more photos!

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?
It all began with computers and raves. As a young teenager in Toronto I would walk into record stores (Play De Record, Noise, X-Static, etc.) and see these amazing colorful flyers for parties. I was fascinated with the scene and the artwork that went along with it. Back then Photoshop was only available to me on a monochrome Apple computer and the flyers were made using mostly analogue or primitive digital layout techniques (anyone remember quark?). I would experiment on my own with digital versions and a short while later true photo manipulation was available. By the time I got into the rave scene fully, I had been using Photoshop regularly – manipulating images and the flyers were all being created digitally so I jumped right in – volunteering to design flyers for rave promotion companies for years on.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
I took Seneca College’s “Computer Graphics Technical Program” in Toronto which was meant for technicians of graphic systems, like the guys that would set up render farms for 3d animation or folks who wanted a much more technical approach to digital graphics systems. Because of that, the first few doors that opened for me where working at the college in their print shop and later some computer networking gigs. All the while I was freelancing design with rave flyers which kept me on the bleeding edge of digital art and connected me with some more corporate freelancing gigs later.

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Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.
Currently the VP of Product at Stocksy United. We’re an artist owned co-op that licenses stock photography and video. We’re different in the sense that we believe in fair and sustainable compensation for our artists while also trying to change the stigma of “stock photography” by hand picking our artists and having a very high standard of curation for our collection. My role is quite broad. My responsibilities involve marketing, sales, customer relations, technical product design and working closely with the content team on the end product offerings as well.  I’ve been involved in the stock photo industry now for over 13 years from a designer, to photographer to now helping start and run a licensing business.

What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in?
This is a massive city. Sometimes it feels small as everyone tends to know each other but when you look around you realize how many people and companies you don’t know. There are lots of great incubators and startups, people trying new things, but also a lot of old school companies so it’s as eclectic as the city’s population. There’s an urban design culture here that’s aesthetically clean, minimal and slick. That seems to be the prevailing trend right now and you can see it in the nightlife and the explosion of modern looking condo complexes downtown. When I look around at advertisements and see the old school cliche stock photos I remember why I do what I do. I want to make great photography available to everyone. I guess that’s how I fit in now.

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What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?
Take more photos – especially film. When I was 16, I was just breaking the surface of what I could do in the future with my creative self. I didn’t fully realize the power of photography or how it would evolve so well with digital innovations (Remember 0.5 mega pixel cameras? So nasty.). Had I started to explore film photography at an earlier stage in life I would have been able to do so much more later on once digital photography caught up to where it needed to be.

2016 for you in a sentence.
‘The big change.’

I believe that a lot of change happened last year. Changes from 2016 will lead to a lot of “different” in 2017. Not for worse, but just different ways of doing things. Business models are being turned upside down, creators are becoming more empowered than ever, shifts in the political landscape (Canada and the US) will have some effects on our culture. It doesn’t feel like it’s quite there yet so I think 2016 was a transition year.

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