As you can see from the responses here, there is not one path to
take with this career choice, but many. Depends on where you want to
go. Designer? Artist? Business owner? Educator?
Let me offer an analogy: You say that you love music and want to be
a musician. The first question I’d ask is: “Do you play an
instrument?” If your answer is no, I’d suggest you pick one, take a
few lessons, and PRACTICE. You may decide to change instruments along
the way, or you may decide that the long hours of practice are not
the way you want to spend your life. You don’t need to go to the
Juliard School for this. A local teacher can be all you need.
Sometimes it’s a family member or friend that can get you started.
So, you’ve been playing for a while and you show some talent, and
you decide that you want to pursue this as a career. OK, what kind of
career do you envision? A Rock Star? Hip-Hop? Blues? Classical? I’ve
known a LOT of musicians. Some rock stars just started playing and
were so talented, and ambitious, that they formed a band, started
playing local gigs, and worked hard at promoting themselves. Some
took formal classes at a university. Some went to a university for
other reasons, started playing on campus, and the rest is history.
Some played in one band after another, perfecting their craft, until
their own “voice” emerged from the music. If you love Hip-Hop, then
you need to work on your dance choreography, your voice, and your
stage presence and timing. Jazz may require more formal and
introspective study. Blues will take you in another direction.
Classical may take you straight to the university.
After a while, you will just join a group and start playing gigs.
For free at first, then for a little more money. How much money you
will make depends on your talent, dedication, perseverance, and luck.
I know a lot of talented musicians who are working at a day job
(sometimes a good paying day job) so that they can play in a bar band
at night. I know of very talented musicians who only do work in the
studio, working with “STARS” on their recordings. They don’t like to
go on stage. And some just play for their friends and family, for the
sheer joy of it.
A career in jewelry is very similar. You can’t just go to school,
learn the techniques, and be successful. This is not an academic
pursuit. This is about learning a craft, like playing an instrument,
and will require the same dedication and devotion. You can start out
at a community college, but take some business classes, art history
and drawing classes, and some basic jewelry classes. You won’t be
burdened by a mountain of student loan debt, and can afford to buy
tools. You can even afford to work part-time for someone, either
helping in their store, working at a craft show, or doing the “grunt
work” in the shop. As you start to become proficient, you could THEN
decide to take classes at the Revere Academy, the New Approach
School, or any of the other schools that are offering workshops by
WORKING PROFESSIONALS. You will find good instructors, great
instructors, and poor instructors out there. If you have a little
background in jewelry making, you will easily see the difference. If
not, you will faithfully learn improper techniques and waste a lot of
time and money.
If, after working at the bench for a few years, you decide to pursue
an art career through one of the university programs, you will do
very well. If you take a fabrication workshop at Revere, you will do
very well. If you take stonesetting with Blaine Lewis, you will do
very well. Because you have already mastered your basic foundation
skills. If you truly love this stuff, they the long hours of bench
work and the years of training are not difficult, but fun. After 30
years in this profession, I still get that “WOW” moment when I finish
a nice design.
This week, I am retiring form my career as a goldsmith. I am packing
up my bench and tools, and leaving the business to my son. He has
become an outstanding craftsman and designer. It took him 10 years to
get to this level, and he had a lot of good teachers along the way. I
will probably still make jewelry, but now I will do it ONLY for the
joy of creating it. I am moving on to the NEXT LEVEL…
Hasta la Vista!
33 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701