From a business viewpoint jewellery is what sells, what does not
sell is crap.
I’m not sure if I’d say it’s crap, Richard, but there’s a point
35 or so years ago - what I think of as “The Carrie Adell” years. I
came to SF, got a room to stay, and the next day I met Carrie in an
art fair. She wasn’t such a big deal to me, she was just memorable,
as those who knew her know. After a couple of years things were
going on and I was involved in the whole jewelry “scene” here in
thecity, including the arty side. I was making diamond and platinum
jewelry already, BTW. There’s a local organization called MAG
(Google it…) of which Jo-Ann was president at the time. Some
people from then I stillknow, and a few that stand out are a young,
fresh faced, newbie at jewelryJim Binnion, the recently lauded Jeff
Herman and a woman named Janet who reads Orchid sometimes.
Jim was trying to get out of the career he was in, which is his
story to tell, and was truly a novice in jewelry at that time. The
thing about Jeff, who I was friendly with but he may not even
remember me, is that his talent was obvious even then, and I mean
everybody saw it. What I saw in his work was what I have come to
believe I havealways had - what I call the human touch. His work was
stylish but still down to earth. When you saw his cases you said, “I
want that, and I want that, and I want that.” not from some strange,
ourtre design but just good, solid, beautiful work. And history has
shown where that led for him and good for him. I remember Janet
because she was cute, mostly, and she had nice, clean work that was
good but not so terribly stand-out-ish. About ten years ago I heard
her name again after all those years - she hasa shop with several
employees making her own line of designer diamond jewelry and by all
accounts is doing quite well for herself. I just don’t know what path
she took to get there, but those things don’t happen at your kitchen
table. (Watching DEE-troit put the hurt on Green Bay…)
I kind of just “am” an artist - looking back I have realized that I
just became that and schooling is important but for me it just sort
of evolved from an early age. There are plenty like me. Others take
different paths. What you see in my portfolio is largely expensive,
but we are very involved in the arts and young artists here - don’t
be fooled. What I’m saying is on Orchid but I also see it daily in
my life. One perspective can be summed up as, “I went to school and
I graduated and it says I’m an artist so I’m an artist.” Fine, and
at least to a degree, true.
The point, and the point of these writings, and what I see in the
young people locally, is “OK, what’s next?” I know plenty of people
who just want to live the fantasy - “being” and artist is an end in
itself and they sit in clubs in berets twirling their Dali mustaches
and drinking absinthe before they go to their jobs bussingtables in
a cafe. BTW, absinthe has to be the most awful thing ever
There are plenty of hobbyists, there are plenty who work at it as a
paying hobby and maybe bring home lunch money but don’t liveoff of
it and don’t necessarily want to. Again, good for them.
If you want to be a career jewelry maker then you just gotta sell
it, theresimply is no alternative, and that’s what many art school
graduates just don’t get, largely because nobody taught it to them.
In order to bring home $36K a year you need to SELL $3000/month,
every month, day in and day out and that’s disregarding gross/net
And in order to do that, you need to make things that people want to
buy. I’ve said it many times and I still see the attitude - “But
this is my ART, you don’t understand!” In that case it is you who
doesn’t understand. They don’t want to buy it. They may look and
rave and even write things in magazines, but they
at least at the price. As a maker and just don’t
want to possess it
business person it is your job to provide them with a product that
they DO want to buy.
Also what people often don’t grasp, that’s really important: This is
my ART doesn’t have to mean your dreams and rather vivid imagination
and strange fantasy pieces. That it just your own lack of restraint.
If I give you an opal and tell you to make me a ring that’s
saleable, that’s your art, too. If you make a custom band of goldfor
a wedding, that’s your art, too. Putting a stone setting on a simple
shank is your art… Everything, absolutely everything, that
you make is your art. It’s just a simple matter of you choosing to
make art that people want to buy. Well, it’s not so simple but
that’s the job.
Happy Thanksgiving! John D.