By Lara Pickford-Gordon
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say, I used everything you gave me” – Erma Bombeck, US writer
Kevin Allister Garcia is a self-taught artist and interior designer, grateful for the gifts he received from the Master. “I always reflect on the man with the talents. When he appeared before his master, his master asked ‘what have you done with the talents I gave you?’. And I don’t want to be the one who buried them. So, I’ve been able to make that link to what I see as my God-given talent to create, and it is really something I connected with a lot more seriously in my later adult life.”
Catholic News interviewed Garcia recently about creating prayer spaces within the home and his involvement in interior design.
Garcia did not study Art while a student at Fatima College, although he was interested. “My parents at the time would not have seen the value of my pursuing Art as a subject in school.” He did not want to burden his mother with the cost of art supplies, which can be expensive.
It was while working full-time in the banking sector that the chance arose to express his creative side. He created a Christmas wreath for a colleague at work, then he was asked to decorate homes and bank branches along the east-west corridor.
Garcia began getting calls from people as ‘word of mouth’ promoted his work. “While I was doing things here and there, really from 2017, I became more serious about it.” K Allister Designs was born in 2015 after he left the banking sector.
He said interior design involves a listening ear. “What they say, as well as what they don’t say”. Clients know what they like but describing their vision is not always easy.
Garcia said he tried to “draw it out of them”, with assistance from the internet. “I get a sense of what colours they like, what furniture pieces …so I start building around that conversation. And from that I can go to Pinterest and select five different room set ups, use pictures from my own work and send to them. And tell them from these five, tell me what grabs you right away.”
Painting developed along with his interior design pursuits. Starting with watercolour, he went on to acrylics, and is now doing oil painting. “I think I am developing a love for oil more than the first two. I was more deliberate in trying to develop my art skills and so on and that just went along with the interior design of things,” he said.
Sometimes Garcia created artwork to go with the spaces he designed. Creativity feeds creativity as Garcia and his brother founded a landscaping company in 2008 to deal with designing outdoor areas.
Garcia was completing a Masters in Business Administration when it occurred to him that there was something he could do to help people confined at home during the lockdown. He knew he was fortunate to have activities to engage his interest but for others the home was the “hub of everything”.
“The thought came that people became so consumed by all these activities that were taking place within the home, were they really unplugging from it to take time to reset, relax, practise self-care?”
The Loveseat was about creating a space for reflection and relaxation. Viewers were encouraged to use items within the home to avoid additional expense. Garcia ran the Loveseat “design mini-series” for six weeks (July 9 – August 13) this year on Instagram: the_loveseat868
“You might not have thought of combining certain articles that you already you have and so on. It was an activity to get your family involved, your kids involved doing with you or create one for them.”
Garcia’s tips included choosing for a quiet area within the home e.g., a bedroom, porch, unused corridor. Each week he used a different space within his own home to show versatility in the spaces.
Another tip is to choose a brightly lit area in case you decide to do reading in the spot. Garcia said, “central to creating space was making it very personal. Because if it is more personal, you would tend to use it more; you are not just creating a spot with a chair and a table that you are going to throw laundry on.” It can be an area to showcase treasured items, like family photos, your favourite books, mementos collected from your travels.
The elements for a place for prayer are similar. A quiet spot, “somewhere you can actively engage in that kind of reflective mode you want to go into, meditative mode.”
Garcia said for him it is connecting with nature and reflecting on God’s creation. The quiet place can be a balcony looking out at the natural landscape or through a window to a nature scene.
“In addition to your own possession that have that religious theme—pictures of your saints, the virgin Mary, that keeps you in that mood, that frame of mind; scents also help create the ambiance that you want. Different scents convey different emotions. Diffusers and scented candles are all very readily available.”
Garcia’s “day job” is Director of Operations, Lennox West Coast Operations Ltd, but art and interior design provide inspiration. “Design and art are what really light my fire, to use the expression. It gives me that outlet to create, I know within me is that natural ability I have been blessed with.”