1st Q&A | 10 Questions About Jewellery & Life as a Jewellery Designer and Maker after graduation.
Everyone knows and understand jewellery on its basis as an adornment. Diamond earrings, Pearl Necklaces, Ceramics rings, Golden Diadem, Stone bangle, Crystal Pendants, and the list goes on, but have you ever wonder who makes them? Why they make them? And how do they see the world?
Last week we put polls on both our company and designer instagram story on whether or not Charmain as Pusaka Designer and maker should make a Question and Answer session about "jewellery topics and life as a jewellery designer and maker after graduation", and it receive an overwhelming YES.
Following the poll result, We decided to gives the audience 3 days chances to ask their burning questions on which we receive another good responses. On this first Q&A post, we choose ten of the most asked questions to be answered by our Designer.
1. Why Jewellery, and what made you want to pursue a career as a jewellery designer?
Situated between art, fashion and craftsmanship, Jewellery has become a bridge to connect my cross-discipline design practices.
I come from a textile-producing family background and studied graphic design as my Bachelor degree, I love working with jewellery because there are lots of techniques found in graphic design and textile productions could be implemented into the body Of work. More than that, jewellery could tell a story and serve as a medium to connect people with their inner self, which I found fascinating.
2. Work on a Design Company or Starting your own brand ? why ?
Each option have their plus and minus; It depends on your future vision and dreams.
I’m quite fortunate that I have done both (I work for a design company for one and a half year before deciding to start my own) and I could say that If you never have any work experience before and are still in your prime age when you graduates (early 20s) you might want to consider working for another company first before making yours.
Having your own design company or brand could be very tempting and sounds like a good idea, Thanks to all of those “work anytime anywhere” advertisement. But I’m afraid the reality is not as beautiful as the concept.
Building a business that is yours took a high amount of resilience and persistence if you want to create a sustainable one. It is a lifetime commitment that demands focus and attention 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yes you could work from a Café in Italy, or Restaurant in France but it is not because you want to, most of the time it is because you have to. In my case, it happens during the time I attend a fair, exhibition, conference, or other similar events to represent my business and brand.
And if you think you are not ready yet to do it, start with working for other people First. Having the opportunity to do so will allow you to:
Have a stable income every month that you could either save up for your future or use to pay your student loan if you have one.
Learn to discipline yourself through the regular working hour (usually, start at 09:00 a.m. sharp for an independent design company, and earlier for retail companies), deadlines to meet and no excuse to make.
Learn what is needed to build a sustainable business in terms of workforce, system, connections, funds, and other relevant things.
Practice your leadership, decision making and public speaking skills through handling multiple projects and interact with other people either stakeholders, colleagues or clients with their personality and view of the world.
3. Why Silver ?
Among the precious metal family, Silver has a malleable and light characteristic that makes it a perfect medium to work with. This material allows my work to be big enough to catch people attention, yet still light when it is worn on the body.
Silver also has a brilliant white colour, perfect for colour exploration either through plating, or pairing with colour gemstones (which what I am currently looking at). Its price also not as expensive as gold, which as someone who is just starting their brand provide an excellent material cost.
I also love the fact that this material is highly recyclable and have a small shrinkage percentage. It could be found in some electronics components (Printed circuit boards, computer chips, keyboard membranes, some capacitor, and silver oxide battery) or the film developing solution.
All of them of course needs to be extracted, treated and purified by a professional due to the nature of the recovering process that involves harsh chemical and require adequate space, specific sites and licensed/training to be able to perform it.
4. How do you approach Galleries, Magazine and Other Companies to exhibit your work ?
Everything starts with my graduation show. at that time, the theme that I am working on is on the raise. But having a popular topic or brilliant works won’t do anything if you, as the designer is not proactive or engage with your “customer”, mainly because a massive chunk of exhibition opportunity and an article covering comes from connections that you make.
Always remember that you are your business, so apart from having exciting works, you need to be interesting. I always try to be there and talk to or at least say hello to everyone who comes to my table regardless of who they are because you never know who they knew. I have met Talent scouts, journalist, as well as manufacturer and suppliers when doing this.
Don’t be shy or nervous, or at least try your best not to look like one because nothing goods come from it. You might still be a student or recent graduates who aren’t necessarily where you want to be nor who you want to be yet. But have faith in your works and skills, be brave, stand straight, smile, wear your jewellery, say hello and hand your name card on the end of your conversation if you have a good one. Most of my exhibition opportunity comes from this interaction, on which I receive it in the form of e-mail.
After you receive this e-mail offer, it is really up to you if you want to do it or not really. All I could say is Don’t wait till you ready cause trust me you will never 100% ready. I am not that ready when I do my Ventura exhibition. I didn’t have a display stand nor loads of product stock, but regardless I still sign up, and once I got the deadline, I work my best to meet whatever I have to do.
A few tips for you who just starting are to have:
Good Images, at least 5 product shoots in white backgrounds and some models shots.
200 - 300 words (your elevator pitch) and 500 words project description
Credible Websites that explain not only about your collection but also who you are and where to find/reach you.
And last but not least are name card (Bring this everywhere, because you will never know who you will bumped into).
These Items are what company, galleries or magazine usually ask for.
It is full of ups and downs and rejections will eventually become your every day, so If you didn’t land on one, it is most of the time because the work that you use to apply didn’t suit the theme that the company/organiser are looking at that year. Having said that there is no reason to feeling that you are not talented enough or your work is not good enough because of that, keep on going, continue to explore and evolve, and you will eventually be where you want to be.
5. Keeping Your Original Style or Following the market ?
Keeping my original style because that’s what makes my works unique, it is an identity that is unique to me and will differentiate my products from their competitor.
Designer that have a signature style is not common, and finding one is not easy, so if you already have one, why letting it go ? There will always be a market for your style, and one of the way to find it is through case study on established designer or brands that shares same value as you. another way is by coming and participating in fair and exhibition.
Find your voice and be yourself, because each of us are unique.
6. Idealistic or realistic ?
If you are too Idealistic, you won’t be able to pay your bills because you are way too niche. But if you are too realistic, your products will lack of innovation and sparks. Having said that if you want to make a living from your business and at the same time surviving the competition, you have to find the balance on both aspects.
To balance both, you first need to know what is the core of your business, what it is stands for, and what are its vision and missions. This first step will shape your Idealistic part of your business, while the realistic part formed through trials and error by participating in fairs and exhibition to test the market, attending seminars and talks from established designers or company to learn from their experiences, and having a conversation with other designers to enrich your point of view.
7. As a jewellery designer and maker, what is your biggest challange ?
For me, it is educating the consumers to see jewellery beyond its material aspect or what could be seen on the outside. Primarily when I work with handcrafted jewellery that utilises recycled and “secondary” materials such as Ringed/baroque/semi-baroque freshwater pearls or Cubic Zirconia to construct the body of work.
Handcrafted jewellery, took a long process, requires skills and precision. Starting from the making process to the quality of the craftsmanship It operates differently than its counterpart. Same with Recycled material, just because it is recycled doesn’t mean that it is cheap. There are recovering, sorting, extracting, and purifying process that needs to be passed before those materials are useable, which general publics are not that aware off, and it is my duty as a designer and maker to pass this information further through my making and storytelling skills.
8. Will Filigree be your main focus ?
Yes, and this has a strong relationship with what inspired the works of Pusaka. Pusaka works draw inspiration from textile production and elements like batik, lace making, weaving and crocheting.
Filigree as technique uses a thin silver filament that could replicate elements found in those textile process. As a cross-discipline designer and maker, I see the material produced using this technique as a replacement for a thread in regular textile production. Being said that, I believe that whatever could be made using a thread, it is possible to replicate the same process using filigree.
There are a lot of things that could be explored, and I am excited about the future that this technique holds.
9. Do you find that jewellery is essential when completing an outfit? Why/ Why not?
Yes !! Just like how clothes reflect Its wearer personality, so does jewellery. Rather than seeing it as an object of adornment to be collected or worn, I saw jewellery as an extension of our self. It represents who we are and what we believe without having to say a word.
a good example is former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who likes to wear brooches and pins to express her opinions. On an interview with Smithsonian Magazine in June 2010, she said that jewellery for her is as an ice breaker, an opener to the conversation. It expresses who she is and what she believes in the most elegant way.
10. What inspired you to start doing sustainable designs?
I come from a textile-producing family background in Pekalongan, Central Java, Indonesia. The city is well known for its long history and tradition of Batik making and craftsmanship.
But ever since machine production is being introduced to meet the demand of the market, the dynamic in Batik Industry change. The traditional way of making using "canting" and "cap" is slowly being left and replaced by the industrial printing machine. The reactive chemical replaces natural dyes. Batik knock-off produced by prominent textile/garment industry become popular. Appreciation of handcrafted batik and craftsmanship are weak, which results in:
The job as an artisan become unattractive and redundant.
Terrible river pollution and ecological disturbance from the unprocessed chemical dyes, and
A dilemma in today's batik communities about the survivability and sustainability of traditional craftsmanship in this machine production era.
All of these form the basis of my thesis project and becomes the main reasons why I got into sustainable design.
And that's the 10 questions around jewellery & life as jewellery designer and maker after graduation are being answered, based on Charmain knowledge and experience as jewellery designer.
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