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Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Artist… And What To Do About Them

Posted by learntobead on May 8, 2020

For the novice, all that excitement at the beginning, when thinking about making jewelry and making some pieces, sometimes collides with a wall of developing self-doubt. It’s not easy to quiet a doubt.

The jewelry artist organizes their life around an inspiration. There is some fuzziness here. That inspiration has some elements of ideas, but not necessarily crystal clear ones. That inspiration has some elements of emotions — it makes you feel something — but not necessarily something you can put into words or images or fully explain. You then need to translate this fuzzy inspiration into materials, into techniques, into color, into arrangements, into a coherent whole.

You start to make something, but realize you don’t know how to do it. But you want to do it, and do it now. However, to pick up the needed skills, you realize you can’t learn things all at once. You can’t do everything you want to do all at once. That initial excitement often hits a wall. Things take time to learn. There are a lot of trial and error moments, with a lot of errors. Pieces break. Combining colors and other design elements feels very awkward. Silhouettes are confusing. You might get the right shape for your piece, but it is difficult to get the right movement, drape and flow, without compromising that shape. Things take time to do.

To add to this stress and strain, you need to show your jewelry off. You might want someone to like it. To want it. To need it. To buy it. To wear it. To wear it more than once. To wear it often. To exhibit it. To collect it. And how will all these other people recognize your creative spark, and your abilities to translate that spark into a wonderful, beautiful, functional piece of jewelry, appropriate for the wearer and appropriate for the situation? Things need to be shared.

Frequently, because of all this, the artist experiences some sense of doubt and self-doubt. Some paralysis. Can’t get started. Can’t finish something. Wondering why they became a jewelry designer in the first place.

Doubt holds you back from seizing your opportunities.

It makes getting started or finishing things harder than they need to be.

It adds uncertainty.

It makes you question yourself.

It blocks your excitement, perhaps diminishing it.

While sometimes doubt and self-doubt can be useful in forcing you to think about and question your choices, it mostly holds you back.

Having doubt and self-doubt is common among all artistic types. What becomes important is how to manage and overcome it, hence, my idea of Channeling Your Excitement, so that doubts do not get in the way of your creative process and disciplinary development.

8 MAJOR WAYS JEWELRY ARTISTS FALL INTO SELF-DOUBT

There are 8 major ways in which jewelry artists get caught beginning to fall into that abyss we call self-doubt:

1) What If I’m Not Creative Enough or Original Enough or Cannot Learn or Master or Don’t Know a Particular Technique?

2) What If No One Likes What I Make?

3) What If No One Takes Me Seriously As An Artist And Designer?

4) I Overthink Things and Am A Bit of a Perfectionist.

5) How Can I Stay Inspired?

6) Won’t People Steal My Work?

7) Being Over Confident or Under Confident

8) Role Confusion

1. What If I’m Not Creative Enough or Original Enough or Cannot Learn or Master or Don’t Know a Particular Technique?

Everyone has some creativity baked into their being. It is a matter of developing your way of thinking and doing so that you can apply it. This takes time.

So does originality. At first, you’ll try different ways of personalizing projects. There are always things you can do to bring some aspects of originality to your pieces. This might be the choice of colors, or using a special clasp, or rearranging some elements in your composition. Again, as with creativity, the ability to be more and more original will evolve over time. It is helpful to think of originality, not necessarily as coming up with something completely new, but rather as differentiation — how you differentiate yourself from other jewelry designers.

For almost everyone, you don’t begin your design career at the height of your levels of creativity and originality. Yes, if you look around you, other people are more creative and original than you or have more skills than you. Don’t let these observations be a barrier to your own development as a jewelry designer. You get there through persistence and hard work. You handle your inner critic. You may not be there, yet — the key word here is yet. But you will be.

2. What If No One Likes What I Make?

We all have fears about how our creativity and originality are going to be evaluated and judged. We project our self-doubts to the doubts we think we see and feel from others. What if no one wants to wear my pieces, or buy my works?

We can’t let these outsider reactions dictate our lives and creative selves. A key part of successful jewelry design is learning how to introduce what we do publicly. At the least, it is the core nature of the things we create that they are to be worn on the body. Jewelry is a very public thing.

Turn negative comments into positive ideas, motivators, insights, explorations. Allow yourself some give and take, some needs to step back awhile, some needs to tweak. Jewelry design and jewelry making are iterative processes. They in no way are linear. Your outcomes and their success are more evolutionary, than guaranteed.

Distressing about what others may think of your work can be very damaging to your self-esteem. It can amplify your worries. Don’t go there.

Don’t become your worst critic.

3. What If No One Takes Me Seriously As An Artist And Designer?

Jewelry design is an occupation in search of a profession. You will find that a lot of people won’t recognize your passion and commitment. They may think anyone can design jewelry. They may think of jewelry making as a craft or some subset of art, not as something unique and important in and of itself. They may wonder how you can make a living at this.

The bottom line: if you don’t take yourself seriously as a jewelry designer, no one else will.

People will take you seriously as they see all the steps you are taking to master your craft and develop yourself as a professional.

4. I Over Think Things And Am A Bit Of A Perfectionist

Some designers let a sense that their work is not as good as imagined get in the way. They never finish anything. They let doubt eat away at them.

Perfectionism is the enemy of the good. It’s great to be meticulous, but emotionally, we get wrecked when anything goes astray, or any little thing is missing, or you don’t have that exact color or part you originally wanted.

Go ahead and plan. Planning is good. It’s insightful. It can be strategic. But also be sure to be adaptable and realistic. Each piece is a stepping stone to something that will come next.

The better jewelry designer develops a Designer’s Toolbox — a collection of fix-it strategies to deal with the unfamiliar or the problematic.

Overthinking can be very detrimental. You can’t keep changing your mind, trying out every option, thinking that somewhere, someplace there exists a better option. Make a choice and get on with it. You can tweak things later.

Yes, attention to detail is important. But so is the value of your time. You do not want to waste too much time on trivial details.

Be aware when you begin over-analyzing things. Stop, take a breath, make a decision, and move on.

5. How Can I Stay Inspired?

Designing a piece of jewelry takes time, sometimes a long time. That initial inspirational spark might feel like it’s a dying ember.

Don’t let that happen.

Translate that inspiration into images, colors, words, sample designs, and surround your work space with these.

Talk about your inspiration in detail with family and friends.

6. Won’t People Steal My Work?

Many jewelry designers fear that if they show their work publicly, people will steal their ideas. So they stop designing.

Yet jewelry design is a very communicative process which requires introducing your work publicly. If you are not doing this, then you are creating simple sculptures, not jewelry.

Yes, other people may copy your work. See this source of doubt as an excuse. It is a self-imposed, but unnecessary, barrier we might impose to prevent us from experiencing that excitement as a jewelry designer. Other people will never be able to copy your design prowess — how you translate inspiration into a finished piece. That is unique and special to you, and why the general public responds positively to you and your work.

7. Over Confidence can blind you to the things you need to be doing and learning, and Under Confidence can hinder your development as a designer.

Too often, we allow under confidence to deter us from the jewelry design and making tasks at hand. We always question our lack of ability and technical prowess for accomplishing the necessary tasks at hand. It is important, however, to believe in yourself. To believe that you can work things out when confronted with unfamiliar or problematic situations. It is important to develop your skills for thinking like a designer. Fluency. Flexibility. Originality. There is a vocabulary to learn. Techniques to learn. Strategies to learn. These develop over time with practice and experience. You need to believe in your abilities to develop as a designer over time.

With over confidence comes a naivete. You close off the wisdom to listen to what others have to say or offer. You stunt your development as an artist. You overlook important factors about materials and techniques to the detriment of your final designs and products. You close yourself off to doubt and self-doubt, which is unfortunate. Doubt and self-doubt are tools for asking questions and questioning things. These help you grow and develop as an artist and designer. These influence your ability to make good, professional choices in your career.

8. Role Confusion
 

 
Jewelry artists play many roles and wear different hats. Each has its own set of opportunities, requirements, and pressures that the artist must cope with. It’s a balancing act extraordinaire.

First, people who make jewelry wear different hats: Artist and Designer, Manufacturer, Distributor, Retailer, and Exhibitor.

Second, people who make jewelry have different needs: Artistic Excellence, Recognition, Monetary Gain, or Financial Stability.

Third, the artist needs to please and satisfy themselves, as well as other various clients.

Fourth, the artist constructs pieces which need to function in different settings: Situational, Cultural, Sociological, Psychological.

Last, the artist must negotiate a betwixt and between situation — a rite of passage — as they relinquish control over the piece and its underlying inspirations to the wearer and the viewer, who have their own needs, desires and expectations.

This gets confusing. It affects how you pick materials and supplies. Which techniques you use. What marketing strategies you employ. How you value and price things. And the list goes on.

It is important to be aware (metacognitive) of what role(s) you play when, and why. Given the role, it is important to understand the types of choices you need to make, when constructing a piece of jewelry. It is critical to understand the tradeoffs you will invariably end up making, and their consequences for the aesthetic, emotional and functional success of your pieces.

Some Advice

While doubt and self-doubt can hinder our development as jewelry designers, some degree of these may be helpful, as well.

To develop yourself as a jewelry designer, and to continue to grow and expand in your profession, you must have a balanced amount of both doubt and self-doubt. Uncertainty leads to questioning. A search for knowledge. Some acceptance of trial and error and experimentation. A yearning for more reliable information and feedback.

Jewelry design uses a great deal of emotion as a Way of Knowing. Emotions cloud or distort how we perceive things. They may lead to more doubt and worry and lack of confidence. But they also enhance our excitement when translating inspirations into designs.

· Don’t let your inner doubts spin out of control. Be aware and suppress them.

· Be real with yourself and your abilities.

· Keep a journal. Detail what your doubts are and the things you are doing to overcome them.

· Create a developmental plan for yourself. Identify the knowledge, skills and understandings you want to develop and grow into.

· Remember what happened in the past the last time doubt got in your way. Remember what you did to overcome this doubt. Remember that probably nothing negative actually happened.

· Talk to people. These can be friends, relatives and colleagues. Don’t keep

doubts unto yourself.

· Don’t compare yourself to others. This is a trap. Self-reflect and self-evaluate you on your own terms.

· Worrying about what others think? The truth is that people don’t really care that much about what you do or not do.

· Don’t beat yourself up.

· Get re-inspired. This might mean surrounding yourself with images and photos of things. It might mean a walk in nature. It might me letting someone else’s excitement flow over to you.

· Take breaks.

· See setbacks as temporary.

· Celebrate small steps.

· Keep developing your skills.

· Set goals for yourself.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer… 5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An…

Posted by learntobead on April 20, 2020

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer
 Should Have An Answer For

Interested in trying your hand at jewelry design? 
 
 Before you begin, consider the following 5 questions I pose for you…

  1. Is what you do Art, Craft or Design?
  2. How do you decide what you want to create?
  3. What materials (or techniques) work well together, and which do not?
  4. What things do you do so that your finished piece evokes an emotional response?
  5. How do you know when your piece is done?

Many people begin to explore jewelry designing as a hobby, avocation, business or career. This requires, not only strong creativity skills, but also persistence and perseverance. It means understanding that jewelry can only be judged as finished and successful as the piece is worn. Jewelry design is more than the application of a set of techniques; it is a mind-set, as well. It is a way of thinking like a designer.

A lot of the achievement and accomplishment in this pursuit of jewelry design comes down to ability to make and follow through on many artistic and design decisions. Some have to do with managing a process, which can take an extended period of time. It also comes down to being fluent, flexible and original in your thinking through design. The greater your disciplinary literacy, the more empowered and confident you become in your design work.

Susan is one example of what happens when uncertainty — that paralysis or deer-in-the-headlights feeling that we so often face — sets in. Susan felt very unsure of herself. And unsure of her jewelry. Would people like it? Was the color mix appropriate? Was the construction secure? Was the price smart and fair? She allowed all this uncertainty to affect her design work — she had difficulty finishing pieces she was working on, starting new projects, and getting her work out there.
 
 
Like many of my jewelry design and beadwork students, Susan needed to be fluent as a designer. With fluency comes empowerment, confidence and success.

Fluency and Empowerment

The fluent jewelry designer is able to think like a designer. The jewelry designer is more than a craftsperson and more than an artist. The jewelry designer must learn a specialized language, and specialized way of balancing the needs for appeal with the needs for functionality. The jewelry designer must intimately recognize and understand the roles jewelry plays for individuals as well as the society as a whole. The designer must learn how art, architecture, physical mechanics, engineering, sociology, psychology, context, even party planning, all must come together and get expressed at the point where jewelry meets the boundary of the person.

And to gain that fluency, the designer must commit to learning a lot of vocabulary, ideas and terms, and how these imply content and meaning through expression. The designer will need to be very aware of personal thoughts and thinking as these get reflected in all the choices made in design. The designer will have to be good at anticipating the understandings and judgements of many different audiences, including the wearer, viewer, seller, exhibitor, client, and collector.

With fluency comes empowerment. The empowered designer has a confidence that whatever needs to be done, or whatever must come next, the designer can get through it. Empowerment is about making and managing choices. These choices could be as simple as whether to finish a piece or not. Or whether to begin a second piece. The designer will make choices about how to draw someone’s attention to the piece, or present the piece to a larger audience. She or he may decide to submit the piece to a magazine or contest. She or he may want to sell the piece and market it. The designer will make choices about how a piece might be worn, or who might wear it, or when it might be worn, in what context.
 
 
And for all these choices, the jewelry designer might need to overcome a sense of fear, boredom, or resistance. The designer might need to overcome anxiety, a sense of giving up, having designer’s block, feeling unchallenged, and even laziness.

In order to make better artistic and design choices, the Fluent and Empowered Jewelry Designer should have answers to these 5 critical questions:

Question 1: Should BEADWORK and JEWELRY MAKING be considered ART or CRAFT or DESIGN?

The jewelry designer confronts a world which is unsure whether jewelry is “craft” or “art” or its own special thing I’ll call “design”. This can get very confusing and unsettling. Each approach has its own separate ideas about how the designer should work, and how he or she should be judged.
 
 
When defined as “craft,” jewelry is seen as something that anyone can do — no special powers are needed to be a jewelry designer. As “craft”, there is somewhat of a pejorative meaning — it’s looked down upon, thought of as something less than art. The craft piece has functional value but limited aesthetic value.
 
 
But as “craft”, we still recognize the interplay of the artist’s hand with the piece and the storytelling underlying it. We honor the technical prowess. People love to bring art into their personal worlds, and the craftsperson offers them functional objects which have some artistic sensibilities.
 
 
When defined as “art”, jewelry is seen as something which transcends itself and its design. It is not something that anyone can do without special insights and training.
 
 “Jewelry as art”
evokes an emotional response. Functionality should play no role at all, or, if an object has some functional purpose, then its functional reason-for-being should merely be supplemental. For example, the strap on a necklace is comparable to the frame around a painting, or the pedestal for a sculpture. It is not included with nor judged as part of the art work.

When defined as “design”, you begin to focus more on construction and functionality issues. You often find yourself making tradeoffs between appeal and functionality. You incorporate situational relevance into your designs. You see “choice” as more multidimensional and contingent. You define success only in reference to the jewelry as it is worn.

How you define your work as ART or CRAFT or DESIGN will determine what skills you learn, how you apply them, and how you introduce your pieces to a wider audience. [The bias in this book is to define jewelry as DESIGN, with its own disciplinary-specific, specialized knowledge and skills base, where jewelry is judged as art only at the point it is worn, and where jewelry-making is seen as a communicative process.]

QUESTION 2: How do you decide what you want to create? What kinds of things do you do to translate your passions and inspirations into jewelry? What is your creative process?

Applying yourself creatively can be fun at times, but scary at other times. It is work. You are creating something out of nothing. There is an element of risk. You might not like what you end up doing. Your friends might not like it. Nor your family. You might not finish it. Or you might do it wrong. It may seem easier to go with someone else’s project.

Applying creativity means developing abilities to generate options and alternatives, and narrowing these down to specific choices. It means developing an ease and comfort generating fix-it strategies when approaching unknown situations or problematic ones. It means figuring out how to translate inspiration into design in a way that inspires others and taps into their desires. It means differentiating yourself from other jewelry designers as a measure of your originality.
 

 Creative people…

Set no boundaries and set no rules. They go with the flow. Don’t conform to expectations.
 
 Play.
They pretend they are kids again.
 
 Experiment.
They take the time to do a lot of What Ifs and Variations On A Theme and Trial and Error.
 
 Keep good records.
They make good notes and sketches of what seems to work, and what seems to not work.
 
 Evaluate.
They learn from their successes and mistakes.

As jewelry designers gain more and more creative experiences, they begin to assemble what I call a Designer’s Tool Box. In this virtual box are a set of thinking routines, strategies and fix-it strategies that have worked well in the past, are very workable in and of themselves, and are highly adaptive when used in unfamiliar situations. Every jewelry designer should develop their own Tool Box. This vastly contributes to success in creative thinking and application.

QUESTION 3: What kinds of MATERIALS work well together, and which ones do not? This applies to TECHNIQUES as well. What kinds of TECHNIQUES (or combinations of techniques) work well when, and which ones do not?

The choice of materials, including beads, clasps, and stringing materials, and the choice of techniques, including stringing, weaving, wire working, glassworks, metalworks, clayworks, set the tone and chances of success for your piece.

There are many implications of choice. There are light/shadow issues, pattern, texture, rhythm, dimensionality and color issues. There are mechanics, shapes, forms, durability, drape, flow and movement issues. There are positive and negative space issues.

It is important to know what happens to all these materials over time. It is important to know how each technique enhances or impedes architectural requirements, such as allowing the piece to move and drape, or assisting the piece in maintaining a shape. Each material and technique has strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, and contingencies affecting their utilization. The designer needs to leverage the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.

All of these choices:
 
… affect the look
 … affect the drape
 … affect the feel
 … affect the durability
 … affect both the wearer’s and viewer’s responses
 … relate to the context

Question 4: Beyond applying basic techniques and selecting quality materials, how does the Jewelry Designer evoke an emotional and resonant response to their jewelry? What skill-sets do Designers need in order to think through powerful designs?

An artistic and well-designed piece of jewelry should evoke an emotional response. In fact, ideally, it should go beyond this a bit, and have what we call “resonance”. The difference between an emotional response and resonance is reflected in the difference between someone saying, “That’s beautiful,” from saying “I need to wear that piece,” or, “I need to buy that piece.” 
 
 
Quite simply: If no emotional response, and preferably, resonance, is evoked, then the jewelry is poorly designed. Evoking an emotional and resonant response takes the successful selection and arrangement of materials, the successful application of techniques as well as the successful management of skills.
 
 
Unfortunately, beaders and jewelry makers too often focus on materials or techniques and not often enough on skills. It is important to draw distinctions here.
 
 
Materials and techniques are necessary but not sufficient to get you there. You need skills.
 
 
The classic analogy comparing materials, techniques and skills references cutting bread with a knife. Material: bread and knife. Technique: How to hold the knife relative to the bread in order to cut it. Skill: The force applied so that the bread gets cut successfully.
 
 
Skills are the kinds of things the jewelry designer applies which enhance his or her capacity to control for bad workmanship and know when the piece is finished. Skills, not techniques, are what empower the designer to evoke emotional and resonant responses to their work.

These skills include:
 
— Judgment
 — Presentation
 — Care and dexterity
 — Knowing when “enough is enough”
 — Understanding how art theory applies to the “bead” and to “jewelry when worn”
 — Understanding the architectural underpinnings of each technique, and how these enhance, or impede, what you are trying to do
 — Taking risks
 — Anticipating the desires, values, and shared understandings all client audiences of the designer have about when a piece should be considered finished and successful
 — Recognizing that jewelry is art only as it is worn

QUESTION #5: When is enough enough? How does the jewelry artist know when the piece is done? Overdone? Or underdone? How do you edit? What fix-it strategies do you come up with and employ?

In the bead and jewelry arenas, you see piece after piece that is either over-embellished or under-done. Things may get too repetitive with the elements and materials. Or the pieces don’t feel that they are quite there yet.
 
 
For every piece of jewelry there will be that point of parsimony when enough is enough. We want to find that point where experiencing the “whole” is more satisfying than experiencing any of the parts. That point of parsimony is where, if we added (or subtracted) one more thing, we would detract from the whole of our design.

Knowing that point of parsimony is also related to anticipating how and when others will judge the piece as successful. And what to do about it when judged unfinished or unsuccessful.

There is no one best way — only your way

The fluent and empowered jewelry designer will have answers to these 5 essential questions, though not every designer will have the same answers, nor is there one best answer.
 
 
Yet it is unacceptable to avoid answering any of these 5 questions, for fear you might not like the answer.
 
 
The fluent and empowered jewelry designer will have learned the skills for making good choices. He or she will recognize that jewelry design is a process of management and communication. The fluent and empowered designer manages how choices are made. These choices include making judgments about selecting and combining materials, both physical and aesthetic, and techniques, both alone or in tandem, into wearable art forms and adornment, expressive of the desires of self and others. The artist’s hand will be very visible in their work.
 
 
This is jewelry making and design.

This is at the core of how jewelry designers think like jewelry designers.

This is the substantive basis which informs how the designer introduces jewelry publicly.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer … Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

Posted by learntobead on April 20, 2020

“Japanese Fragrance Garden Bracelet”, piece and inspiration, FELD, 2018

BECOMING THE BEAD ARTIST AND JEWELRY DESIGNER:
 The Ongoing Tensions Between Inspiration and Form

Abstract: As a jewelry designer, you have a purpose. Your purpose is to figure out, untangle and solve, with each new piece of jewelry you make, how both you, as well as the wearer, will understand your inspirations and the design elements and forms you chose to express them, and why this piece of jewelry is right for them. Not as easy as it might first appear. This involves an ongoing effort, on many levels, to merge voice and inspiration with form. Often challenging, but very rewarding.

BECOMING THE BEAD ARTIST AND JEWELRY DESIGNER:
 The Ongoing Tensions Between Inspiration and Form

As a jewelry designer, you have a purpose. Your purpose is to figure out, untangle and solve, with each new piece of jewelry you make, how both you, as well as the wearer, will understand your inspirations and the design elements and forms you chose to express them, and why this particular piece of jewelry is right for them. Not as easy as it might first appear.

You will want the piece to be beautiful and appealing. So you will be applying a lot of art theories about color, perspective, composition and the like. You will quickly discover that much about color use and the use of lines and planes and shapes and so forth in art is very subjective. People see things differently. They may bring with them some biases to the situation. Many of the physical materials you will use may not reflect or refract the color and other artistic effects more easily achieved with paints.

You want the piece to be durable. So you will be applying a lot of theories and practices of architects and engineers and mechanical physicists. You will need to intuitively and intrinsically understand what about your choices leads to the jewelry keeping its shape, and what about your choices allows the jewelry to move, drape and flow. You also will be attentive to issues of physical mechanics, particularly how jewelry responds to forces of stress, strain and movement. This may mean making tradeoffs between beauty and function, appeal and durability, desire and acceptance.

You want the piece to be satisfying and accepted by various wearing and viewing audiences. So you will have to have some understanding of the role jewelry plays in different people’s lives. Jewelry is more than some object to them; jewelry is something they inhabit — reflective of soul, culture, status, aspiration. You will recognize that people ascribe the qualities of the jewelry to the qualities of the person wearing it. You will bring to the forefront ideas underlying psychology and anthropology and sociology, and even party planning, while designing your jewelry or introducing it publicly. You may find the necessity to compromise part of your vision for something socially acceptable, or in some degree of conformance with a client’s taste or style.

BECOMING THE BEAD ARTIST AND JEWELRY DESIGNER

Sometimes becoming a designer begins by touching some beads. Or running a strand of pearls through your hand. Or the sight of something perfectly worn around the wrist, or upon the breast, or up near the neck. Or trying to accessorize an outfit. Or finding something for a special occasion.

Jewelry designers are extraordinarily blessed to do what they love for a living. For many, they have turned a hobby into an avocation into a lifestyle.

But it’s not like a regular job. There are many intangibles. Such as, what exactly is creativity and creative thinking? What are all the things that have to come together to recognize that creative spark when it hits you in your heart, gut or head, and how to translate that into something real, with beauty, with function, and with purpose? How do you mesh your views of and desires for aesthetics and functionality with those of your many audiences — wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, collector, exhibiter, teacher and student?

What exactly does it mean to design jewelry, and how do you know it is the right path for you? This is a tough question. You may love jewelry, but not know how to make it. You may get off on creative problem solving or be a color addict but not know what specific techniques and skills you need to learn, in what organized way, with what direction, leading you towards becoming that better jewelry designer. You may wonder what it means and what it takes to be successful as a designer. You may feel the motivation, but not know what the jewelry designer really has to do each day.

You may be taking classes and getting some training, but how do you know when you have arrived? How do you know when you have emerged as a successful professional jewelry designer? And what are your responsibilities and obligations, once you get there?

THERE IS SO MUCH TO KNOW

There is so much to know, and so many types of choices to make. Which clasp? Which stringing material? Which technique? Which beads? Which strategy of construction? Which silhouette? What aesthetic you want to achieve? How you want to achieve it? Drape, movement, context, durability? How to organize and manage the design process?

And this is the essence of this series of articles — a way to learn all the kinds of things you need to bring to bear, in order to create a wonderful and functional piece of jewelry. Whether you are just beginning your beading or jewelry making avocation, or have been beading and making jewelry awhile — time spent with the material in these segments will be very useful. You’ll learn the critical skills and ideas. You’ll learn how these inter-relate. And you’ll learn how to make better choices.

Everyone knows that anyone can put beads and other pieces together on a string and make a necklace. But can anyone make a necklace that draws attention? That evokes some kind of emotional response? That resonates with someone where they say, I want to wear that! or, I want to buy that!? Which wears well, drapes well, moves well as the person wearing it moves? Which is durable, supportive and keeps its silhouette and shape? Which doesn’t feel underdone or over done? Which is appropriate for a given context, situation, culture or society?

True, anyone can put beads on a string. But that does not make them artists or designers. From artists and designers, we expect jewelry which is something more. More than parts. More than an assemblage of colors, shapes, lines, points and other design elements. More than simple arrangements of lights and darks, rounds and squares, longs and shorts, negative and positive spaces. We expect to see the artist’s hand. We expect the jewelry to be impactful for the wearer.

We want to gauge how the designer grows within the craft, and takes on the challenges during their professional lives. This involves an ongoing effort to merge voice and inspiration with form. Often this effort is challenging. Sometimes paralyzing. Always fulfilling and rewarding.

Jewelry design is a conversation. The conversation in ongoing, perhaps never-ending. The conversation is partly internal and partly external. The conversation is partly a reflection about process, refinement, questioning, translating feelings into form, impressions into arrangements, life influences into choice. It touches on desire. It reflects value and values. Aesthetics matter. Architecture and function matters. People matter. Context and situation matter.

Jewelry focuses attention. Inward for the artist. Outward for the wearer and viewer. In many directions socially and culturally and situationally. Jewelry is a voice which must be expressed and heard, and hopefully, responded to.

At first that voice might not find that exact fit with its audience. There is some back and forth in expression, as the jewelry is designed, refined, redesigned, and re-introduced publicly. But jewelry, and its design, have great power. They have the power to synthesize a great many voices and expectations into something exciting and resonant.

JEWELRY DESIGN: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Jewelry design is an activity which occupies your time.

How the world understands what you do when you occupy that time, however, is in a state of flux and confusion, and which often can be puzzling or disorienting for the jewelry artist, as well.

Is what you are doing merely a hobby or an avocation? Is it something anyone can do, anytime they want, without much preparation and learning?

Is what you do an occupation? Does it require learning specialized technical skills? Is it something that involves your interaction with others? Is it something you are paid to do?

Or is what you do a profession? Is there a specialized body of knowledge, perspectives and values, not just mechanical skills, to learn and apply? Do you provide a service to the public? Do you need to learn and acquire certain insights which enable you to serve the needs of others?

Are you part of another occupation or profession, or do you have your own? Is jewelry design merely a craft, where you make things by following sets of steps?

Is jewelry design an art, where your personal inspirations and artistic sense is employed to create things of aesthetic beauty for others to admire, as if they were sculptures? Is the jewelry you create to be judged as something separate and apart from the person wearing it?

Or is jewelry design its own thing. Is it a design activity where you learn specialized knowledge, skills and understandings in how to integrate aesthetics and functionality, and where your success can only be judged at the boundary between jewelry and person — that is, only as the jewelry is worn?

The line of demarcation between occupation and profession is thin, often blurred, but for the jewelry designer, this distinction is very important. It feeds into our sense of self and self-esteem. It guides us in the choices we make to become better and better at our craft, art and trade. It influences how we introduce our jewelry to the public, and how we influence the public to view, wear, exhibit, purchase or collect the things we make.

What Does It Mean To Become A Professional?

At the heart of this question is whether we are paid and rewarded either solely for the number of jewelry pieces which we make, or rather for the skill, knowledge and intent underlying our jewelry designs.

If the former, we do not need much training. Entry into the activity of jewelry design would be very open, with a low bar. Our responsibility would be to turn out pieces of jewelry. We would not encumber ourselves too much with art theory or design theory. We would not concern ourselves, in any great depth, and certainly not struggle with jewelry’s psycho-socio-cultural impacts.

If the latter, we would need a lot of specialized training and experience. Entry into the activity of jewelry design would be more controlled, most likely staged from novice to master. Our responsibility would be to translate our inspirations into aspirations into designs. It would also be to influence others viewing our work to be inspired to think about and reflect and emote those things which have excited the artist, as represented by the jewelry itself. And it would also be to enable others to find personal, and even social and cultural, success and satisfaction when wearing or purchasing this piece of jewelry.

To become a professional jewelry designer is to learn, apply and experience a way of thinking like a designer. Fluent in terms about materials, techniques and technologies. Flexible in the applications of techniques and the organizing of design elements into compositions which excite people. Able to develop workable design strategies in unfamiliar or difficult situations. Communicative about intent, desire, purpose, no matter the context or situation within which the designer and their various audiences find themselves. Original in how concepts are introduced, organized and manipulated, and in how the designer differentiates themselves from other designers.

The designs of artisans who make jewelry reflect and refract cultural norms, societal expectations, historical explanations and justifications, psychological precepts individuals apply to make sense of themselves within a larger setting. As such, the jewelry designer has a major responsibility, both to the individual client, as well as to the larger social setting or society, to foster that the ability for the client to fulfill that hierarchy of needs, and to foster the coherency and rationality of the community-at-large.

All this can happen in a very small, narrow way, or a very large and profound way. In either case, the professional roles of the jewelry designer remain the same. Successfully learning how to play these roles — fluency, flexibility, communication, originality — becomes the basis for how the jewelry designer is judged and the extent of his or her recognition and success.

Why People Like To Bead and Make Jewelry

Most people, when they get started beading or making jewelry, don’t have this overwhelming urge to become a star jewelry designer. On the contrary, fame and fortune as a designer are some of the furthest things from their minds. Most people look to jewelry making and beading to fulfill other needs.

Over the years I’ve seen many people pick up beading and jewelry making as a hobby. They are drawn to these for many reasons, but most often, to make fashionable jewelry at a much lower cost than they would find for the same pieces in a Department store, or to repair jewelry pieces they especially love. When you start with the parts, and the labor is all your own, it is considerably less expensive than the retail prices you would find in a store for the same pieces.

Some people want to make jewelry for themselves. Others want to make handmade gifts. Giving someone something of great value, that reflects a personal expression of creativity, and a labor of love — you can’t beat it. And everyone loves jewelry.

When people get into beading and jewelry making, they discover it’s fun. They tap into their inner-creative-self. They see challenges, and find ways to meet them. They take classes. They buy books and magazines. They join beading groups and bead societies and jewelry making collaboratives. They have beading and jewelry making parties with their friends. They scour web-sites on-line looking for images of and patterns for jewelry. They comb the web and the various beading, jewelry-making and craft magazines, looking for sources and resources. They join on-line jewelry and bead boards, on-line forums, on-line web-rings, on-line ezines, groups, and on-line blogs. They take shopping trips to malls and boutiques and like little good Agatha Christies and Sherlock Holmes, they spy, looking for fashions, fashion trends, and fashionistas. They attend traveling bead shows. And every town they visit, they schedule some free time to check out the local bead stores and boutiques.

As people get more into beading and jewelry making, some discover that these avocations are not only sources of artistic self-expression, but also have many meditative qualities. They are relaxing. They take your mind off the here and now, and transport you to a very calming place.

Still, for others, beading and jewelry making become a way to earn some extra income. They might be to supplement what you’re making now. They might be ways to generate some extra dollars after you retire. They might be the start of your own business as a designer of jewelry. They might be a sense of independence and self-reliance. Having someone pay you for something you made is often the hook that gets people addicted to beadwork and jewelry making.

Most people, however, are content just to make jewelry. There are no professional Design paths to pursue. They may realize that they are out there somewhere, but don’t particularly care. Or sometimes they are unfamiliar with or can’t see all the possibilities. Perhaps they get stuck. No mentor, no book, no magazine, no project to entice them or spark an interest in something more than what they are doing now.

For those fewer people, however, who get a whiff of what it means to design jewelry, and jewelry which resonates, well, what a trip they are in for.

Do You Chase The Idea or The Material?

It is important up front to ask yourself, as a jewelry artist, what is more important to you: the piece of jewelry itself, or the reason why it was made? The idea? Or the material object?

The idea is about cause and effect. How the inspiration resulted in choices about colors, materials and techniques. How the artist’s intent is revealed through choices about composition, arrangements and manipulation of design elements. How the jewelry relates to the person and to the body? How the artist anticipates how others will understand whether a piece is finished and successful, and whether the piece incorporates these shared understandings into the choices made about design.

As solely a material object, the jewelry so designed shies away from resonance. It becomes something to be judged apart from the wearer. It too often gets co-opted by global forces tending towards standardization and same-old-same-old designs. The designer’s mastery is barely referenced or attended to. The designers voice is reduced to noise. The very real fear is that, with globalization and standardization, the designer’s voice will no longer be needed.

Jewelry as idea fosters communication and connection between the artist and his or her various audiences. It bridges thinking. It bridges emotion. It bridges social, cultural and/or situational ties. It goes beyond simple adornment and ornamentation. It becomes interactive, and emerges from a co-dependency between artist and audience, reflective and indicative of both.

Analyzing reasons, finding connections, and conceptualizing forms, components and arrangements are the primary functions of jewelry designer survival.

Otherwise, why make jewelry? Why make something so permanent to reflect your inner motivations, efforts, even struggles, to translate inspiration into this object? Why make something wearable, especially when each piece is usually not worn all the time? Why make something that might have such an intimate relationship with the body and mind? Why make something that can have real consequences for the wearer as the jewelry is worn in social, cultural or specific situational settings?

The Challenging Moments

Developing yourself as a jewelry designer has several challenging moments. You want to maintain high expectations and goals for yourself, and see these through. Some challenging moments include the following:

1. Learning your craft and continually growing and developing within your profession

2. Recognizing how jewelry design goes beyond basic mechanics and aesthetics, thus, differs from craft and differs from art, and then learning and working accordingly.

3. Getting Inspired

4. Translating Inspiration into a design

5. Implementing that design both artistically and architecturally by finding that balance between beauty (must look good) and functionality (must wear well)

6. Organizing your work space and all your stuff

7. Managing a design process

8. Introducing your pieces publicly, and anticipating how others (wearer, viewer, seller, marketer, exhibitor, collector, teacher, student, for example) will desire your pieces, as well as judge your pieces as finished (parsimonious) and successful (resonant)

9. Infusing your pieces with a sense of yourself, your values, your aesthetics, your originality

10. Developing a fluency and flexibility when working with new materials, new techniques and technologies, and new design expectations, including well-established ideas about fix-it strategies when confronted with unfamiliar situations

11. Differentiating your jewelry and yourself from other jewelry designers

12. If selling your pieces, then linking up to and connecting with those who will market and buy your pieces

Some Bottom-Line Advice For The Newly Emerging Jewelry Designer

Always keep working and working hard. Set up a routine, and do at least one thing every day.

Find a comfortable place to work in your home or apartment. Develop strategies for organizing the projects, your supplies and your tools, and for keeping things generally organized over time. But don’t overdue the organizing thing. A little chaos can be OK, and even, sometimes, trigger new ideas.

Give yourself permission to play, experiment, go down many paths. Everything you work on doesn’t have to meet the criterion of perfection, be cool, or become the next Rembrandt. A key part of the learning process is trial and error, hypothesis, test, and conclusion. This helps you develop fix-it strategies so that you can overcome unfamiliar or problematic situations, enhancing your skills as a designer.

Don’t let self-doubt and any sense of impending failure take over you, and paralyze you. Designer’s block, while it may happen occasionally, should be temporary. Jewelry projects usually evolve, and involve some give and take, change and rearrangement. Often the time to complete a project can be lengthy, and you have to maintain your interest and inspiration over this extended time period.

Don’t get stuck in a rut. Try new materials. Try new designs. Try new styles. Try to add variation, new arrangements, smart embellishments. Learn new techniques and technologies.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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THE ARTISTS AT THE PARTY

Posted by learntobead on May 7, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

THE ARTISTS AT THE PARTY

yuppieparty

 

Jayden and I were invited to a party.   Not just any party.    A party at the renovated early 1900’s home in the Belmont section of town, a section of town somewhere squeezed from the West by Vanderbilt and from the East by Belmont universities.      A silversmithing student of his had invited us.    We had been to her home for dinner before, but it was just the two of us and she and her husband.

This was to be a party.    Perhaps a hundred people had been invited.    People associated with the universities.   People associated with the primary alternative newspaper in town – The Nashville Scene.    People in politics.   Professional people.    People with job titles who handed out business cards and spoke in that upwardly mobile dialect which made less-than-upwardly mobile people feel small and out of place.

When we arrived, the party was well underway.    The home was renovated in the way that people pay for to see in magazines that show page after page of inside and out.    Exquisite.   Creative.    Truly the home of someone very into the arts and very into home preservation.

I always head for the wine and cheese first.     I’m a cheese addict.     And I love rich, mellow red wines, not too sweet.

We walked around, trying to mingle.     We had conversations with some painters, one sculptor and one actor.     We tried to converse with others there, but when presented with that question of questions very early on after introductions — “What do you do?” — our answers were less than satisfying.   We were jewelry artists who owned a bead store.

We had no currency there.

We had no political ties to network off of.   No interesting gossip to trade.    No similar career paths.    We had nothing to say of value to the almost one hundred people frantically circulating room to room and hallway to hallway in this very beautiful but crowded house.

We were the decoration.

The entertainment.

The artists.

I stood in the corner of one room, watching the scene before me.    It was a madhouse of people playing some kind of speed dating game where the prize was upward mobility for the sake of mobilizing upwardly.      I realized I did have some currency.    My name and avocation.   All these people would be going back to their offices and social networks and political operations and news services, able to tell others that they met so-and-so the jewelry artist.

They knew they would never be questioned about what exactly I made.   Or be asked to evaluate anything I constructed.

They would only be asked my name and avocation – Warren Feld, Jewelry Artist.

 

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THE COMMUNITY CROW

Posted by learntobead on December 16, 2010

THE COMMUNITY CROW
A message from David Chatt

David Chatt recently sent out an email calling attention to his current project, and requesting financial support.

This project and this process for finding support of one’s creative self are fascinating.    We have a professional campaign for personal philanthropy.   We have a coordinated marketing effort with an email campaign and a facebook presence.

I wanted to share this with you.      You may want to make a worthy donation to his cause.     You may also want to learn from his successes.

David wrote:

 

Hello,
At some point in the past  you expressed interest in what I have been doing, specifically about my writing a book.  Well for the past three years I’ve been living in North Carolina doing an artist residency at Penland School of Crafts.  I am now working on a large finale piece.  a 2000 pound window for the front of my house. I am going to be blogging  and posting on Facebook about it as I make progress. I invite you to become a fan of the Community Crow by joining my fan page on Facebook.   I am including a link to a video I have done to introduce this project… fair warning, United States Artists, where you will find this video and a link to my blog, is helping me to raise money for this project.  Fear not, while I am welcoming all donations, you need not feel obliged, and I welcome your interest whether it comes with a donation or just good wishes.  I hope this finds you well.

 

You can find some more requests from other artists, craftspersons and performance artists for “Personal Philanthropy” on this web-page:

http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/projects

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