The Artist Next Door: Michelle Silver

As a branding designer, Michelle Silver has carved out a professional path for herself. But painting satisfies a different part of her entirely. 

“Branding is about how I can represent my client’s vision, but my paintings are incredibly personal,” explains the Philipstown resident. 

Michelle Silver

Michelle Silver

“In a perfect world I’d be painting every day,” says Silver, who has two young sons with her husband, Bradley, a tattoo artist. “When I do have the time, I explode onto the canvas.

“My paintings are sensitive depictions of personal struggle and growth: the desire to feel loved and accepted, the plague of self-doubt, the struggle to establish identity and the fear of loss,” says Silver, who posts examples of her work at “I use the intimacy and vulnerability of my own lived experiences as a platform to connect larger themes of politics, femininity, desire and fear with a personal anecdote or individual moment.

“I paint emotional landscapes that are as vast as they are lonely; a simultaneous sense of freedom and feeling trapped. What does it mean to be a parent during a global pandemic? How do we escape our bad habits and thoughts during isolation, and what example do we set? Now, I look at my work as a place of understanding of what’s going on inside of me.” 

At Boston University, Silver majored in advertising and minored in art but aspired to be a graphic designer. Her pre-parenthood paintings focused on the intricacies of the human figure. “Sessions lasted for hours because I had lots of time,” she says. “After my first son was born, my painting shifted pretty significantly. The rendering is looser and it’s much less realistic. It’s more about colors and textures, and how the textures reveal light and darkness.”

Silver spent the early part of her career as a graphic designer for two restaurant groups in New York City, Patina and David Burke. Over her five-plus years with the latter, she honed an interest in textiles and began developing what she calls “a strong mission, which merges my love of fine art with my design.”

Today, her branding clients at include Main Street businesses in the Highlands, such as Understory Market and Love Letter in Cold Spring. “I’m not just looking at things visually,” she says. “I want to know the brand’s goals, to align with their values.” Other local projects include work in Beacon for Campbell & Campbell and Wyld Birth & Postpartum.

One misconception about branding, says Silver, “is the idea that ‘anybody can do it; it just needs to look cool.’ But so much work has gone into brands that resonate with people. Visual appearance is not enough; strategy is key. Thinking about what you want to do and who you want to speak to should be considered before popping something out.”

No matter the size of the business, Silver says, “people often have a hard time conceptualizing what their brand will look like. Over the last few years I’ve honed in on a design style that is fun, illustrative and sometimes quite funky. It’s about taking the story and creating a personality that gets it to speak to someone. You bring things to life in a way they might not have imagined.”

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