What Matters: Josh Silverman and the Art of Making Connections

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Debbie Millman has started a new project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an ongoing effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer 10 identical questions, and submit a decidedly nonprofessional photograph.

Up next: Designer, educator and coach Josh Silverman.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

Making connections. By introducing people to each other. Combining flavors in cooking. Pairing type, color and content. Curating and shepherding teams toward project goals. Helping people find their purpose.

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

My mom’s interior design business was in my childhood home, and I used to “play work-work”—solo or with my brother—mimicking what we saw take place in an office: stapling pages together, then using a staple remover, or a three-hole punch. Photocopying, faxing and coloring in report covers (with blank pages). Slightly crafty, slightly silly. I also collected the fresh-cut grass, left over from the team that mowed it, and put it in a giant box to sell on the street—right next to where I was selling lemonade.

What is your biggest regret?

Not listening to my instinct when it was fighting to be heard.

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

With the help of friends, the reassurance of poetry, art and literature, and time. Also, travel and writing. And wine.

What makes you cry?

Lots of things. I’m an emotional creature.

For joy: a perfect bite of food in a beautiful setting with my lover. An overwhelmingly happy moment shared with others, like a wedding or celebration. A deeply moving, honest and heartfelt conversation. A character’s spoken truth in a story.

For suffering: when people die.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

It depends on the accomplishment, but regardless, it’s tough to put a timestamp on it. For projects, it’s fleeting, because there’s always work to be done. For something accomplished in a relationship, typically longer.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

I believe in a universal force or energy we rarely see or feel, but is all around us. I dipped into it once, just briefly, after a really great yoga class—it was like walking in thick air, like molasses. When our bodies no longer serve us, our spirits continue. I’d guess that our spirit energy dissipates, redistributes—until it’s called upon to reassemble in some other form, human or non. So many things we can see wax and wane, ebb and flow; so many things we can measure are bifurcated, are on or off. So why wouldn’t we be, too …!

What do you hate most about yourself?

Hate is a strong word; I don’t hate anything about myself. I would like to improve my physique, especially as I approach 50.

What do you love most about yourself?

My versatility.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

Wherever I am: Whatever is fresh and local.