Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Organizing Creative Ideas in a Multiple Jeweler Workshop

Hi everyone…I work as a jeweler and foreman at a
retail/manufacturing jewelry store. I am fortunate to work among
three extremely talented and creative jewelers. In addition to repair
and custom orders, we create original pieces for the showcases. At
present there is no system for organizing the original ideas and
getting them made. (It’s a chaotic process of scavenging,
begging,and hoping by the individual.)

As “foreman” (which translates to the gal who gets the finger pointed
at) I see a need to systemize the process of design submission and

Does anyone out there deal with this type of workshop and do you have
suggestions of how I might proceed? What criteria applies? It is very
important for me not to have the process so oppressive as to squash
these wonderful and inspired artisans, yet I foresee the chaos
causing lost income and inappropriate pieces.

And not to add too much, we all are interested in participating in
design contests, yet that too has the potential to be chaotic and
inefficient. Any suggestions on this front?

Thanks in advance, and blessings to everyone who participates in this
precious and unique forum. I have learned so much here, it has saved
me from the internal cynic that nips at my heels

Gianna Lynn’s Jewelry, Ventura California

Dearest Scooby, If there is no “boss” or main designer in your
workshop a serious business plan must exist which states goals of the
workshop. This type of thing I resisted for a LONG time 'cause it
smacked of business school book learning and I was supposed to be an
artist. All well and good but, how long can you art with out money
with a wife, kids and American dream? Business plans guide resources
toward a common goal. Money doesn’t buy tools which seem so necessary
or colored stones ,ect. It will help in advertising, even
workshop/retail space will be directed by it. Put everything into it
including vacation time goals specific shows or competitions, personal
income goals, EVERYTHING. If you all are moving toward a common vision
nothing can stop you. Sam, Tucson

Scooby & All, What you are asking is for basic business design. It
starts with identifying broadly what you want to accomplish,
narrowing it down to specific areas, narrowing that down to specific
projects, etc… I have been lucky enough to have taken many
professional classes in business management through my last employer.
In my last shop before I retired I was the working manager of 60
people in three different locations. I can tell you that without a
business plan you are not maximizing your potential or joy. This is
a very complex subject. If you would like to correspond about it,
contact me off forum. There is a down side to being a successful
business person. Artists will say that you have a “Dark soul and do
not care about individuals as you are focused on business”. This is
far from the reality. A good business person wants for everyone in
their sphere to be successful and fulfilled. Business is art.

Gerry Galarneau

Hi Scooby;

Just a thought on this. Perhaps I could share with you my vision
from the perspective of my background in the history of craft. A lot
has changed since the time when I engineered my last price-point
production series for a couple of (now defunct) national department
store chains. I believe a new paradigm is presenting itself in our
field due to two formats intersecting.

  1. Artist craftspeople making incursions into the retail jewelry
    environment. These individuals are different than the inbred
    industry producers of twenty years ago, when the craft schools and the
    jewelry manufacturers were completely unaware of what the other was

  2. Presentation formats that are the basis of web page catalogs and
    structure themselves on the constraints of HTML and Java formats.
    There is a style of topical segregation and layering going on that is
    training the market on how to view product.

What I’d suggest is to peruse any number of gallery web sites to get
a feel for the organizational habits they are using. Retail
collections are going to resemble this more and more in the future.
Look at juried shows by organizations like SOFA and SNAG for occasions
where artists are invited to submit works around “themes”. This will
set you apart from the retailers who have bought into the "branding"
marketing gimmick, which, in my opinion, will further compartmentalize
our product and give the advantage to competitors with big buying
power and large advertising budgets. You may be looking at a choice
between either having your artists create designs to fit within a
framework you devise or to represent them within their own individual
personality formats and try to bring this under the larger image of
the store. This latter choice will be difficult. It works for the
NBA sometimes, but it will invite the chaos you fear. The old Bauhaus
is a good example of this. Better to have them try to work themselves
into the constraints of the store image, which will take REALLY
talented individuals. You must convince them that it’s a greater
accomplishment to contribute to a winning team than to try to shine by
themselves. Humility is supremely difficult for the accomplished.
See if you can find anything in the library on the "Memphis School"
and look it over. There was a case where this worked well. Here
might be some exercises.

  1. Have everyone see if they could create one design each that would
    look like it belonged in a book on Art Deco jewelry. (of course, they
    will have to actually look at some Art Deco jewelry. Just an exercise,
    you don’t have to make the actual pieces.

  2. Then see if they can all contribute suggestions for elements of
    their own shared “design style”, such as: organic, Hispanic,
    mechanical, hallucinatory, whatever. Just so long as they can collect
    all these “rules” and then possibly, by lottery or through the triumph
    of dominant personalities (dangerous), select the criteria they will
    then try to design for.

  3. See if they can now create individual examples of the new style
    they have contracted.

The particulars, like when and how you will set aside the time to
design, the format (notebooks, sketchbooks, whatever), how many
designs, who carves, who casts, who sets. This is trivial. If you
get them on board on this, they’ll be anxious to get these details out
of the way in order to see the actual product.

You’ll either get them to work together like the Beatles, separate
but equal, or you’ll have to satisfy yourself with taking the reins
yourself, collecting all their designs, and try to make a bouquet from
picking through the weed patch. In other words, probably continue
doing what I suspect you are doing now. If they could only see the
glorious possibilities that all those great minds and talents might
reach if they could work together on this. Go ahead, tempt them with
visions of power.

David L. Huffman