Danika Maia is kinda living the dream. After years of working as a creative strategist — including some time working in digital media for Vice and also for us here at Uproxx — she took what was once a side hustle and turned it into a bonafide job. That’s not to say that what was once a point of interest for her became a grueling slog. We mean the kind of gig that’s rewarding and fulfilling and keeps you in traveling cash. That notion everyone talks about: making money through passion? She’s pulling it off.
On her Instagram, Maia is essentially a digital curator. And with her curator’s eye, she created BLA — a multicultural creative collective and talent management company that showcases art and music. Through cultural exchanges, Maia facilitates a space for artists and the general public to connect on a personal level and develop a greater and more compassionate appreciation of one another.
On Saturday, Maia launched a full-fledged exhibition (curated with Tova Lobatz) called Illuminate at the Heron Arts gallery in San Francisco. The show will run from September 22nd to October 20th and its free-to-the-public opening reception featured Swedish-Kenyan musician Beldina. Throughout the run, thirteen artists personally-selected by Maia and Lobatz are showcasing work that explores cultural identity and stereotypes through a variety of different mediums.
On the eve of the Illuminate launch, we spoke with Maia about her hustle and asked her to share some of the art being shown in the show.
BLA is a creative agency but your roots are through blogging. So how did you get from a blog to what BLA is now?
I began my career in college, I studied digital media and communications which was very focused on branding and content, marketing, and digital marketing. Eventually, I started to realize that working with brands was an amazing way to A) Show people new art and B) get artists paid, because it’s very hard as an early-career musician or artist to actually make money out of it. And I was very interested in seeing how I could sort of showcase all the talent and friends that I had worked with in Copenhagen and L.A. because they’re both such hubs for all things entertainment and art. I was very interested in the idea of being “experiential” as well. How do we get people not just looking at things online and consuming content but actually out and looking at art in real life, meeting artists in real life, and meeting other people who are interested in art and building community?