Susana DeVoe hails from Portugal, but she came of age in New Bedford, Mass. She remains very much in-tune with her Portuguese roots, visits her family there every few years and speaks three languages (Portuguese, Spanish, French).
DeVoe began her artistic career after attending the Wentworth Institute of Technology, but has since shacked up on Elm Street in Jamaica Plain where she runs a crafty design firm called MAKE.GOOD. She's a regular at the SoWa Open Market in the South End. You can also find her bags at Salmagundi on Centre Street.
DeVoe’s current work certainly pulls from her experience in architecture, which continues to this day. But it’s a mighty far cry from her first gig out of college, where she was asked to design a Storage USA…
Patch: Tell me some of the parallels you can see between your architecture and your MAKE.GOOD designs.
Susana DeVoe: There is absolutely a relationship between how I think about architecture and how my work for MAKE.GOOD comes to be. Architecture is a very visual, graphic profession. I always say, architects don't make buildings we make 2D representations of the 3D spaces we envision. This mode of thinking is clearly visible in my handbags. The physical structure of the bag is important but it takes second place to the graphic nature of the end product.
Patch: Do you still pursue architecture work?
Susana: I do still pursue architecture projects, but only those that really excite me. I'm currently working on a small micro brewery at Fort Point Channel. The client, a good friend, is super passionate about his beer, which makes it a really fun job. Check out this recent article written about it.
I don't think I will ever not do architecture. It's ultimately what I'm most passionate about. I have also taught architecture at Wentworth Institute of Technology for about 10 years. Teaching keeps me in touch with the process of design which, for me, is relevant no matter what it is I'm currently making.
Patch: Are there through-lines/philosophical threads that unify all the MAKE.GOOD products?
Susana: Yes, they have to have some component that is reclaimed or recycled, they have to be well made and they have to be beautiful to look at.
Patch: Maybe you could share one or two ideas about essential elements to sustaining a career these days as a vending artist?
Susana: Having a support system is essential. I don't think I could do it alone. It's so much physical work as well as emotionally draining. Try to be at shows as consistently as possible; It works to build a customer base that will return to buy more of your products later.
Patch: How have outdoor markets like SoWa impacted your business?
Susana: The artist market is essential for getting people to know that you exist. I also think I'm 'better in person,' so having people meet me is great for my business. It connects the product to the maker and that doesn't happen nearly enough with the things we consume today.