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Shed Sessions: Silvie Kisters

Interviewed by Luke Vidamour, 6th January 2021

This is the intro. You know, the bit where I tell you something "seemingly" unrelated about myself, deliver a quirky anecdote of life as a creative, and then seamlessly transition to the interview with a dash of big-picture context and a heart-warming compliment.

Well, this week's subject needs no lengthy introduction of that predictable formulae as none could do her justice. All I can say is that she's every Shedder's favourite Shedder, she's obsessed with geoducks, she has a zombie-apocalypse survival bag, her hair is currently turquoise, and I'm already looking forward to what kind of off-the-wall Secret Santa gift she's preparing for next year's Christmas party. She is the one and only, Silvie Kisters.

(Don't say I didn't warn you.)

Firstly, can you explain your role at Potting Shed and what a normal day looks like for you?

I am a designer with all-around skills within the area of design and I like to pursue them all, so for me that includes the areas of (digital) design, animation, creative and print. I usually work on multiple smaller jobs that could be subject to change. I prefer it that way, no day is the same and I like being flexible within my work. So there’s not really a usual day for me as such, I could be working on social media posts at one moment, then typesetting a brochure and setting up artwork for business cards next.

Could you describe the purpose of this job to someone from another planet?

I am sort of a wizard that makes stuff look and work great whilst simultaneously solving problems you didn’t know you had.

What made you pursue a career in design?

When I was around nine or ten years old or so, around the year 2000, I was hooked on Microsoft Paint. My dad gave us (me, my sister, and brother) a book with design tips and tricks for this program, including a tutorial on how to draw Bert and Ernie. However, instead of becoming a Microsoft Paint mastermind, I started my education to become a medical nurse. Regretting my choice after two years I then orientated myself on what to do instead. I decided to study graphic design and when I graduated after four years I enrolled myself to study ‘Business creation’ for the next four years. ‘Business creation’ is a marketing related study that focuses on business modelling and innovation. A big part of this study focuses on creating, building, and maintaining brands, which is very useful in my career.

I know that you’ve recently bought a house, congratulations! How’s it going so far?

We absolutely love our new living space. We purchased lots of plants, a giant cacti, a big ox skull (made of wood), so our home looks like an oasis in the desert. I will throw a hot tub party with some Latin party music soon.

Do you prefer cats or dogs?

I love either species equally, however, I would prefer to live with a cat as I am out most of the day. I would name my cat Doug.

Moving to Guernsey is a pretty unique experience, how have you found it?

For those who do not know - the reason I moved to Guernsey was that I fell in love with a Guernseyman, and later with Guernsey itself when visiting during a summer holiday. The island is a bit less tropical as I had remembered it during my visit but that isn’t an issue as I am Dutch and therefore used to rain. As for the locals, I love how friendly, welcoming, and helpful the people from Guernsey are. So it’s no surprise that I have chosen to marry my favourite Guern soon and that we have bought our first home on this island - and what a beautiful island Guernsey is with its cliff paths, the beaches and of course Herm. My family and friends enjoy visiting and spending their holiday here. 

I enjoy all that Guernsey has to offer! So far I have developed a new hobby called ‘storm-chasing’, I visit as many farmers' markets that I can and hedge vedge-ing is my favourite leisure activity of all time. Seafront Sundays are the best, I wouldn’t miss a La Viaer Marchi, the German underground military museum has enjoyed frequent visits from me and my family, I’ve made some candles at Guernsey Candles, I’ve had a ride on Sausmarez’ little train, I can even say some basic words in Patois.. and loads more. I feel that I might have done a few more Guernsey activities than some locals haha!

Do you have a survival plan for the zombie apocalypse? 

I am glad you asked. One of my favourite mind games to pass time is as follows: the zombie apocalypse has begun. You have ten minutes to get to a place from where you are at in that moment, where would you go? Waitrose (unlimited food but less safe), a bunker (safe but no food), somewhere high up? Run to a boat and hope someone’s left their keys in? 

The best thing you can do to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, or any apocalypse really, is to prepare a survival bag. I am currently working on preparing one with Aaron (my fiancé) to include the important stuff such as a flashlight, emergency blankets, battery, radio, a map of the world, a water filter, etc. We’re searching for how-to-survive-in-the-wild literature, trusting that Google will not be available and therefore won’t be able to inform you on what plants to eat and which ones will give your insides a bad time.

What do you think about when you are alone in a car?

Usually, I am looking at people and wondering what they are about, where they are going, and what their story is. And also wondering where I would escape to if there would be a zombie apocalypse happening at that moment.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?

A fantastic Dutch woman and where to find her.

What inspires you the most?

The internet. I have an attraction to the weird and unusual, and I have access to unravel them all via the web. I especially love exploring strange new trends such as ASMR, Mukbang, and pore squeezing.. it fascinates me where these movements come from and why they have such an online following. I often find myself wondering about random questions, such as ‘what if I would use milk instead of water in my Sodastream’, and ‘how would it feel to bathe in Orbeez’ and ‘what is inside a rattlesnake’s rattle’ - and a quick search on the World Wide Web later I realise that there are likeminded people out there who are equally intrigued to finding answers to the same questions. This makes me feel connected with the world.

What has been your most bizarre life experience?

Picking up my friend from the bus stop in the Netherlands some years ago, armed with a knife, as a killer clown was terrorising the people in our street. My friend heard sadistic laughter coming from the bushes…

In the future do you think computers and AI will ever replace designers?

I first read ‘when computers and AI (as in our CD Al Mitchell)’ and thought by myself ‘he’s busy enough as he is!’ - but I see now we’re talking about Artificial Intelligence, which is, on a side note, a great movie. I think that AI will continuously offer us better tools and equipment for doing our work, but I am of opinion that human assessment, intelligence, and most importantly feelings are essential in the creative industry. 

How would you transport 10,000 sharks safely across the country in the most efficient, safe, and cost-effective way possible?

I would build a giant waterslide, similar design as the salmon cannon. An example can be found here.  The fish look like they have a good time and once all sharks have safely relocated, we can launch our enemies through the same tube. Delicious and suspicious.

Read our Shed Sessions with TomAl, TabithaKeelieDavid, and RJ.