I understand completely what you are saying. However, I have taught
procedures in resin inlay and photo-etching which students have
learned and one who is now doing very similar work to mine. She is
actually doing a very nice business in this style and even though our
styles look similar, I am happy that she is working and selling. And
somebody taught me, and they were taught by somebody else who read it
in Oppi Untracht’s book.
As an artist, I get to change my methodology, learn, create a voice
of my own, and if that person can only copy and not innovate, then it
will always look like a project piece. As an artist, this is not
limited to just jewelry fabrication, but to my marketing techniques,
photography, cooking, tool design. My passion is in everything I do
as I am a passionate person and try to live in the moment.
When I juried for the NYC Couture show, I saw five selections of
work from one jewelry artist (what does that mean exactly) and in
each one, I could tell from what workshop it came from.
To be truly unique, distinct and to stand out, takes patience,
perseverance and more patience. Your own voice will always win out.
Sure, I can learn how to do granulation from Ronda Coryell, and push
my little granules so they stack up like nice neat symmetrical rows
of pure golden beauty. But what makes them distinct from everyone
else who has learned the same technique?
To develop a voice, or your “art”, I can now take the "technical"
knowledge and begin making my own variations. However, without
repeating the basics and fundamentals of my teacher, without copying
her style of working or that of another, as I began to understand the
combination of chemistry, physics and panic (if you have ever done
granulation, you will know what I mean), I had to do work on projects
that was like hers or somebody else. If I copy the Etruscan piece of
jewelry in my art history book, will the ghost of the jeweler past
come to haunt me?
Now I am doing something very different with granulation. My
interest in biology, math and quantum physics have merged with my
artwork and the drawings in my sketchbook are surreal.
Students garner more confidence if they have a starting point and
are encouraged to take the basics and fly. If not, then there work is
only a photocopy of what you teach and in the long run, this cannot
Sharing knowledge is noble service and should be given freely
without ego. If in sharing that knowledge, or teaching a concept,
another artists method or vision works better to drive the point home
so they can learn and move on, then I see nothing wrong with it.
What happens when you go to a museum? You sit and copy by drawing or
photograph somebody else’s creation. Is that bad, is it wrong? No. I
did it all the time in art school and it became the FOUNDATION of
finding my own voice. I’m now just beginning to understand that
voice. I like photography, but I have a lot to learn in editing and
filtering the ambient noise to make a kick ass photograph. But, if
you look at my photos, they are distinctly me. Jewelry, I’m still
working on, but I’m getting there.
Look at Metalwerx where you took a class. So many students came up
to me wanting to know how to start a school. Fine I said, I’ll take
you through it. I’ll share my knowledge. But starting a school and
running a school is a very different beast. Copying another persons
work for education and creating their own line of jewelry draws from
the same experience. Now little schools have popped up all over the
place. Was I worried that this was happening? No. In the end, the
student will decide what is best for them. My job in running
Metalwerx was to keep the INSTRUCTORS as happy as possible. The draw
of the amazing talent of the instructor base is what built the
school. The innovation of marketing, community studio space, online
Insider is what fills the classroom and still does. In October,
Metalwerx will be 10 years old! Even though I am not running it any
longer and off to doing other projects, no school will be just like
Metalwerx. Either will anybody else’s jewelry.
My feeling is, people are always going to complain about something.
Let them complain! No need for you to take on their baggage about an
experience. Teach and let it go. It’s their problem, not yours.
Teach from your heart, teach from truth and the petty problems that
others have is theirs to deal with. Step out of the way and take on
the next student who will listen and be grateful for the experiences
you are so willing to share.
It’s a big sofa and there is plenty of room for everyone.