This is in reply to two different posts that touch on several
different issues. what is art, who is an artist, going to art school,
making a living, pleasing ones-self, doing commissions. Etc.
Going to art school neither makes you an artist or prevents you from
being an artist. Some artists do, some artists don’t. Some people, no
matter how much they study, do not become artists. Some people, no
matter how much they produce, do not make good art.
Making jewelry can be an art form, but it isn’t necessary to have a
successful jewelry business. There are 2 very different things we
are talking about here. One is a skill set. To me, soldering a head
to a ring shank is not ones “art”; it is ones skill. One can be a
very skillful, even masterful craftsman, but that does not make one
an artist. Using Tom Herman as a continued example, Tom is both
artist and master craftsman. It is his concepts that makes him an
artist, it is his skill set that makes him a master craftsman. To
clarify further, a master craftsman could copy Toms work, but without
the internal artistry, he could not design an ORIGINAL art piece.
Some can design a fabulous jewelry artwork, but could never pull it
off. One is an artist, the other is a craftsman. Some people are
I don’t think that setting someone’s stone into a decent ring is
necessarily an art form. It can be so, but a competent,
straightforward setting is just that.competent craftsmanship. Taking
a commission to copy is not art any more than being weird for the
sake of weird is necessarily art. Taking a commission that is against
your standards or beliefs is a choice some may need to do for one
reason or another. I don’t do it and am lucky that I don’t have to.
(No one could pay me enough, for example, to create something to tout
I don’t think one should hold back one ones inspiration. I don’t
think giving in to ones imagination is self indulgent by definition.
If what you design is what truly moves you. make it. If you fail, you
just may not make it as a jeweler. These are all decisions of degree.
what do you want? What is success to you? Do you want international
recognition for your art; do you want to live your art no matter
what; do you want modest success to live on; do you want a chain of
stores; do you want to be rich? What would you give up to achieve
these desires? What would you hold tight to achieve them? Are you
willing to hire help, take direction, follow trends, give your pieces
to famous people, sell your work for less than it’s worth? How hard
are you willing to work? What is your tolerance for compromise? What
areas would you compromise, which would you not?
Work with integrity. Work with heart. Do your best. If you are an
artist in your jewelry, grand. If you are a master craftsman,
wonderful!! If you are a competent jeweler, fine. If you make funky
stuff that you’re content with and sells, fine. If you’re an
international phenom starting a house that lasts for generations,
wow! As long as you are able to live on and with your work and are
honest with your customers, more power to you! Chose the path that’s
right for you and I hope it works out.
Time will tell how much of what we do is considered art by others
than ourselves. Marianne Hunter