Creative Processes and Self Care: with Narilou Studio


Cristina is the creative behind Circular Bodies branding. She lived most of her life in between Asia and Europe. She decided to move to North America and went to Parsons School for Design, which is where we met. We have been good friends since and I feel so honored to have her as the creative force behind the beautiful visual identity to Circular Bodies. 

Cristina, tell me about your work: What influences your aesthetic and inspires you to create?

Hi Dominique, it is so good to be here! As you know, I come from a design strategy background at Parsons and a design engineering background at The Royal College of Art, so I am lucky to have been surrounded by art driven individuals throughout my life. My main inspiration comes from that: living around creatives. When I reflect about my day, take time to breathe, relax and hang out with my community, I feel inspired and stimulated creatively. Through social media I can connect to the artwork of friends all over the globe, which helps me work creatively across different cultures and locations. Community exchanges and conversations inspire my aesthetics and help me visually materialize projects. By having a strong creative community, I feel empowered to innovate my mind and transform ideas into projects. 

What was your vision when working in this project for Circular Bodies? If you could describe the brand in a few words, how would you describe it?

A huge advantage for me in this project was already knowing you and having a long relationship through our studies and our careers. Being there for each other on a personal and on a career level really helped. I envisioned building a brand for you, honoring the understanding of your ethos, morals and the energy you give off. Our long time connection was crucial to be able to develop this project as quickly as we did (it came together in just two months!). Even though Circular Bodies identity has a lot of your personal values in it, it is a movement that was created for many other like minded individuals which are the community you are a part of. With that in mind, I knew building Circular Bodies would mean building a collaborative, welcoming brand. 

A word that struck me while developing this project is “feminine”. I know that is a word with a somewhat exclusive connotation and Circular Bodies is definitely not just for women. I define this word as meaning an elegant flow, more as the form of energy than a binary definition. Acknowledging gender as fluidity allows us to embrace characteristics that we are not assigned to us but that we want to embrace. Circular Bodies allows for the celebration of the feminine, a creative flow that connects us to our bodies and to the environment. 

Why did you decide to work on this project? What kind of projects motivate you creatively and professionally?

This project came in the perfect timing. I was finishing my masters, which you were involved with and gave me advice on. At that point we realized our skills were very complimentary and that we worked very well together. This was a great career start after my graduate studies, and within the limitations of COVID it was amazing to be able to collaborate on a project overseas. It was my first formal job as a solopreneur and it was great to do that with a friend whose project I love. I like helping clients to reach their full potential by making their visions happen, I act as a catalyst funnel that directs an idea to its essence. It takes a village to get there and in this case it was a 2 person vision that felt powerful and exciting from the moment you mentioned it, which made the project development flow smoothly and naturally.

You are the sole creative behind Narilou Studio. Can you tell us about the studio, why you started it, and what projects bring you excitement in your business?

I graduated during Covid (summer 2020) and all was uncertain. Before Covid I thought it would be doing something completely different. I was working on my own digital platform, created to streamline creative production. Starting to work with you as a creative consultant brought me to learn about a lot of opportunities in the space and become a catalyst between the fields of design and business. With these opportunities, I got to organically transform this practice into a formal business, and Narilou was born to bring creative consulting for brands and business development for artists, building foundations for artis’s careers. Narilou is a multidisciplinary art and design studio with consulting, design, management and commercial business vision development. It brings me excitement to be in a multidisciplinary field facilitating an independent creative consulting studio. 

I see you as a very meticulous, minimal person that can truly grasp the essence of a project, understand it’s main purpose, and create a narrative from that very bare point. Do you identify your process in that way? What is important for you in your work?

I am a visual learner. I am also what I call a “visual listener”. I focus on listening to people and empathetically figuring out what they need the most. I identify what skills are lacking in a project and can’t be delivered and I offer to make things productive and efficient by tackling those missing parts. Being dyslexic has contributed to my creative process for it allowed me to sensorially connect to my work. Since reading has always been hard for me, from a young age I learned to adapt text materials into visual or oral constructs. Interacting in a creative way with what I need to learn helped me develop the skill set to pick up things in different ways. I grasp understanding really quickly and it comes from bringing imagery and sound as the foundations of my process. I study what is already there and translate words to visuals. It comes naturally to me and is a core skill that allows me to do the work that I do. 

Would you mind sharing your relationship to self care? Any rituals that help you feel connected and grounded? Anything that is important for you when keeping your body and home healthy?

2020 physical isolation created a detachment from society that allowed me to pause and process what environments were toxic to me mentally. I opened space and time to learn and love myself. I came to accept self love as a lifelong learning journey. Before the lockdown I rarely gave myself time. Now, time and calmness have brought me healing and space to connect to myself. I honor self care by going on walks and practicing light movement exercise. Another ritual that has been important to me is to take a hot shower at night right after work. Working from home makes it hard to stop working but I try to not work past 6pm / 8pm, and by then, I embrace the self care ritual of taking a shower, which allows me to relax my muscles and ease into sleep. This helps me separate work from rest and have a better night of sleep.

 Lately, I feel more confident and more connected to myself. I am working on accepting that I can be proud of the place where I am now. I have a lot of things I want to do in my career so whenever I get to a place, I raise the bar and expect more, which I realize is not very healthy. I am trying to enjoy every moment and learn new things as I go. It is important to stop and give yourself a pat on the back for your work. Taking a break helps me renew things and remain present, celebrating the process as I go. 

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