I did a fine art course at uni majoring in gold and silversmithing.
I went on to do an honours year in the same course. In the last six
months at uni I managed to get a foot in the door to the jewellery
industry with a part time job for a major Australian company as a
casting assistant. Twelve months later, having been finished uni for
some time and with a lot of empty promises about moving onto a full
time position unfulfilled I left the company and took a job with a
small manufacturing company. In my new job I was unofficially in
training - mainly polishing, some very basic benchwork, and
housekeeping. I was treated particularly badly at the new job and had
major concerns over the complete unwillingness of my boss to address
some major health and safety hazards and so I left the job two months
after starting it. (This company, as I found out, rarely has any new
staff stay as long as I did - it has a reputation in the industry for
treating its staff badly, under paying them, giving no notice of
termination of employment, and refusing to payout leave and super
This brings me to where I am now. I am in my third day of official
"unemployment" … after the way I have been treated by both
companies I have worked for, my confidence has been completely
crushed and looking back, I realise no one in either of these
companies ever believed in me. I believe I am a good artist-jeweller
going by the marks I got at uni, comments I’ve heard at exhibitions I
have participated in… and going by the fact that when I was in my
last job (with the small company) the manager saw my uni work as I
was showing it to another colleague and was so blown away that the
same day there was talk of offering me an apprenticeship.
I know that in both jobs my lack of speed was a major issue and
probably the reason that no one had any belief in my potential… and
thus the reason that I was never going to go anywhere in my first job
in particular. In both jobs, interestingly enough, my employers and
supervisors were happy with my high standard of work, thus they kept
me on staff even though I was well under their expected speed. I
still can’t understand why they couldn’t put two and two together to
see that no one works fast and to a high standard… its one or the
other. I was trained at uni to work to a high standard - I feel that
this is my reason for struggling with speed in the industry.
Anyway, that is the story of how I have come to be where I am today.
Today I am certain that there is no future in the jewellery industry
for me. I can see it leading only to struggle after struggle and
constant disappointment. My new plan is to get a regular full time
job and as I manage to save money to build up a studio on the
side… then, over time, to make and sell my own work aiming to
reduce my bread and butter work to a part time position… then,
maybe even, to eventually rely on my art-jewellery work for an
income. The question is though, what kind of job I should be
applying for. I think I could cope fairly comfortably with an
administrative position and I do have a fairly decent data entry
speed along with a little bit of temping experience in admin and data
entry. The thing is though, I would really like to get a job that is
still somehow related to jewellery, jewellers, tools, supplies
etc… I think it would help me to not get side-tracked in an
ulterior career if it was all somehow unified.
So, there are two questions I have for all of you.
Can you suggest what sort of job I could look at getting into
that keeps me in touch with jewellery? I am very willing to
canvas… I just need some hints for who I should approach and how.
Could you tell me your stories of the process you got through to
be where you are today - whether that is in the industry or working
as an artist jeweller? Most of all, I would like to hear if you’re
happy where you are - why, or why not?