Imagine being blindsided with a major hip condition, needing multiple surgeries, and then relearning—not once, but twice—how to walk. This is what Kirstin Huber had to deal with two years ago, when she was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia. But Huber, an art director and designer (in-house with New York City’s Public Theater) wore it as a badge, using her experience and recovery to further her dive into the performing arts. This year, she had a residency with The Bellwether, a Brooklyn-based independent arts collective, and has spent more time working with her band, Curry Puffs.
Huber’s work at The Public Theater is wide-ranging and widely-seen; her proudest accomplishment was designing subway posters for the theater’s Shakespeare in the Park shows alongside Paula Scher, a leader in the field of graphic designs. All things considered, Huber says she sometimes freaks out about just how lucky she’s been.
How old are you, where do you live, and what is your job title? I live in Kensington and I’m 27. I’m an art director and designer (in-house at The Public Theater) and a performing artist.
What made you first interested in your profession, and how old were you when that happened? I started playing music when I was about 8, and joined my first band in high school. Music and visual art have always felt inseparable to me. I was obsessed with making flyers and merch for my band, and someone told me that what I was doing was called graphic design.
Do you feel Brooklyn is still a viable place for a young person to build a career? Yes. I see people doing it every day…
Where do you see yourself in ten years? On a stage, writhing around, headbanging, singing, jumping and thrashing…my band Curry Puffs will be raging in some parallel universe and I’ll be able to ride a motorcycle.
Have you ever felt like leaving your career path? I recently had a traumatic experience that totally disrupted my preconceived ideas about my “career path.” Two years ago, I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia and then had two major surgeries to repair my wrecked pelvis. The process of recovering from this was utterly transformative. I had a sort-of spiritual response where I suddenly realized how grateful I was for my body. It reignited my passion for movement and my latent dream of being a dancer–a goal that I buried and didn’t pursue because I thought I was too old to start. I had to re-learn how to walk, twice. The shock of my rapid descent into disability was like a wake-up call: my body was saying to me, you can’t have double hip surgery and then go back to sitting at a desk all day. It’s never too late to learn anything.
I was very fortunate this year to have a residency with The Bellwether, a Brooklyn-based independent arts collective. I developed very personal work surrounding my recovery, exploring themes like identity, pain, and body positivity. Now I’m taking dance classes (ballet and gaga) and devoting more time to making music and performing with my band. So, my path is starting to veer into the performing arts in a bigger way than I ever thought it would (or could). I’m sure that working in-house at a theater for 8 years has had something degree of influence on this–even if it took an unexpected, radical physical transformation to actually push me down that road.
What’s felt like your biggest professional accomplishment? Designing Shakespeare in the Park campaigns with Paula Scher feels like a significant and awesome accomplishment to me. Getting to see my posters in the subway; my friends texting me photos of them. I’m really proud of the team I’ve assembled in-house at The Public and the insane amount of cool work they/we crank out– the fact that Paula trusts me to art-direct such an iconic NYC institution is sort of surreal and sometimes I freak out about how lucky I am.
What’s some advice you’d give to people trying to get a foothold in your industry? Work hard and stay hungry for more. Make things you like. Go to as many shows as possible.
Who are your role models in your industry, and what do you hope to see happen or change in the industry in the (near-ish) future? I hope to see more women running things in every aspect of every industry.
Who would be your pick for a 30 Under 30? I would have picked my BFF Kei Meguro but you already picked her 🙂
To learn about 29 more sub-30 standouts, visit this year’s list of 30 Under 30.