Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Let's Talk About Cohesive

by Staci L. Smith

What is cohesive?

How does that apply to jewelry?

First lets talk about finding your voice.  

We all start somewhere.  As we learn new techniques and try out new materials, our styles change and grow.  Eventually, we find our voice.  It should be the goal of every new jewelry / component designer out there.  YOUR voice.  Not someone else's voice that you change a little bit.  Your's.  Your's alone.  

You may not think you have one, but you do, somewhere in there.  And, you may be surprised to find it is totally different then the people you admire.  I know I often admire styles that are just not me.  When I started making jewelry, I went through many phases and tried many things that did not stick.

(I used crystals, shiny rainbow crystals.....lol.  There is nothing wrong with that, but it was not me.  At all.)

I don't' have many pictures from the early years, but I did a lot of symmetrical (gasp) gemstones on memory wire necklaces and such.  Then I got into sea glass and I made what everyone makes with sea glass.

 This was a custom order, it was very very glittery

Over time my sea glass jewelry started to evolve and change, and become more of my own voice.  Below is what I was really wanting to do with sea glass.

It continues to evolve, but I think it still has that same feel that I did even back then.  

Now- this is what my sea glass jewelry looks like.

I remember how good it felt when I finally stopped making what I thought I should made, or what I thought would sell, and started listening to that funky rule breaker inside of me.  I never thought they would sell.  In fact, people told me, "oh, i like your necklace but I would never wear that".  Well, I am glad I didn't listen to them, cause people are wearing them!  It feels so good to create from your gut, from your heart!

Anyhow, when you are done laughing at my early work, we can move on (I know I do.)

I think many new artists are scared, they thing they don't have something special inside them, but you do.  You have something as unique as you inside, and you need to allow yourself time to play so you find it. 

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
– Anonymous

 I am really against jumping right into a business from the start, because I think until you have really found who you are, the business end of things- making things to bring in $$, keeping record, ect.....take away from that time you should be enjoying your art and learning and growing.  Trust me, once you go fully into business, play time is greatly diminished.

Finding your voice is important for many reasons.  The first being, why would you want to make what other people are making?  There is enough competition out there in the jewelry world.  What is going to get you noticed and have stay power, is being unique.  Putting your voice into your work.  Put a little bit of YOU in there, and people will see that.  Since you are unique, your creative voice will be as well.  Like a fingerprint.

Originality is a by product of sincerity.
– Marianne Moore

Second you deserve to express yourself.  Stop thinking you have to do what customers want, or what is popular or what other artists are doing.  You are cheating yourself if you do not let yourself be expressed the way you need to.

He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.
– Raymond Hull

Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.
– Shakti Gawain

Once you begin to do this, you begin to create from inside you, your work will be cohesive without too much effort. 

cohesive: cohering or tending to coherewell-integrated; unified:
a cohesive organization.

Now, when I go to a show and walk in a booth, or I go into an etsy shop, nothing turns me off more then when I can't get a feel for the artist in once glance.  That is right, ONE glance.  If I am online and have to look at picture after pictures, of styles that look like 10 different artists work, I am out of there.  Same with a booth at a show.  I will not take time shopping in a booth that has a little bit of everything.  I go to an art show to find that something unique.  I want to look in a booth and KNOW what that artists style is.  I want to feel like I know who they are a little bit from their work.  Are they edgy?  Tough?  Dainty?  Soft spoken?  Feminine?  Innovative?  Earthy?

I also want to invest in handmade, and that means, I want to invest in YOU.  The artist, the maker.  It is a personal thing.  Art is personal.  You put a little piece of you out there.  And people who like, are people who "get it, they get you".  

Being cohesive in your work only benefits you.  You can still grow and play and evolve.  I hope you never stop!  However, everything you do will have your stamp on it, your little something....your spark.

Always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of somebody else.
– Judy Garland

I would like to share some shops that I think are great examples of cohesive.  Shops where, everything they do, is totally their style, and I can spot it a mile away.

First up, Kristin Oppold of Yay Jewelry

You can visit her shop here

Another person, who despite growing immensely from just beads to metal work, has not lost her unique style, Nikki Z. of Love Root

You can check out her shop and see the cohesiveness in all she does, here

The last jewelry artist I would like to feature is Genevieve Williamson of Jibby and Juna

She is a polymer artist, and I never get tired of looking at her new work.  It is so crisp and clean, yet earthy and soft.  It marries modern and naturally wonderfully.  Most of all, you can tell its one of her pieces every time she makes something new.
You can check out her work here 

and if her etsy shop is not open, you can view her work here

I think this also applies to bead makers as well.  I also think it is very hard to do- to have a unique stamp that is yours in the bead world.  

Two bead artists that stand out to me are Joan Miller and Lisa Peters

Joan Miller Porcelain is famous for her textures and glazing technique.

You can find her work here

Lisa Peters Art has a way with artsy unique beads, and even as she makes new series and changes back and forth from raku to regular glazes, you know its her work

You can find her work here, and check out her shop

What I hope you take away, whether you are just starting, or you have been doing this for awhile now, is that having a cohesive look will benefit you.  You will find "your people", your customers, who get your work, who love your work, and who invest in your work.  And they will find YOU because they know at a glance, that you are their beady soul mate!

I leave you with one more quote....mine: "BE YOU, because you are worth being".  -staci (lol)  That has probably been said before....anyhow....

Have fun and happy creating!


Lisa Peters Russ said...

I feel the same way.. one glance.. and its a totally from the soul.. its almost like you are being drawn into the work by an unknown force..
I think we have creative soul mates as well as soul mates in our personal life with friendships and partners - the same way two souls can seek eachother out at a gathering is the same way I can walk by 100 booths at a craft show and then spend 2 hours in one..
and its a beautiful feeling once you understand it and understand yourself and the things that turn you on creatively.

Honey from the Bee said...

Awesome post! This quote really is great: He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.
– Raymond Hull

I think you definitely find your style, your voice, when you just keep creating from your heart. Your own work will make you the happiest and stop caring what else is out there, because it really doesn't matter. It's fun to see the individual!

Karen Totten said...

Completely agree. It takes time to develop a voice and coherence in our work. We all start out learning what we do by emulating what we love, what makes us excited. This is a normal part of artistic development. The challenge is to keep pushing our own work and respond to what we love (whatever the source, nature, art, etc.), with a unique statement of our own. Art is a dialog, a back and forth. We do not create in a vacuum. The critical step is not to continue to emulate others or do what others would have us do (what is popular, etc.), for that is a one-way dead-end conversation. We have to participate in the dialog by presenting our our own take and continue to evolve and shape it until it is our own voice. Meanwhile, it is important to nurture young or upcoming artists who are still struggling to find their way, not by chastisement over developing work that might be similar to that of another artist or that follows a mish-mash of different trends, but by gentle prodding or suggestions of areas to experiment or push themselves in. This is how we sustain and grow a community of fellow artists and artisans.
Nicely written article. :)

Nikki said...

Hitting the nail on the head! There is making jewelry and then there is being an artist...and the journey in between the two. Thank you so much for mentioning me. You were an early inspiration for LoveRoot, no question! :)

Lucie Tales said...

Wonderful article, thank you!! You're saying exactly what I feel : I'm still trying to find my own path and indeed when I look at my past production it goes in several and different directions... Thank you for explaining how you did find your path, I have to work to find mine.

stacilouise said...

Thanks everyone. I will never forget the artist who gently nudged me in the right direction, encouraging me to make what was in me, rather then what I thought I should be making. She gave me confidence and freedom and it took me and my business in the right direction. I just hope I can pass that on. There is nothing like that moment when you realize, from your very soul, this is what I should be doing.

Tammy Adams said...

This was just what I needed to read. After 10-ish years of trying bits of this and that, including sparkly rainbow crystals, LOL, I think I can finally hear my voice speaking up. I'm not there yet with the cohesive look to my collection. I have over 10 years worth of dabbling all hanging out together and it looks like a dozen different people made it. It was all fun to make and a necessary learning experience, but it drives me batty to look at it all now. I've discovered the direction I want to follow, and my challenge now is to stay the course and listen to that small voice. Lovely article.

Patti Vanderbloemen said...

This is a perfect post andyou hit the nail right smack dab on its head! I absolutely love Janet's comment above "He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.
– Raymond Hull"

Patty Donna said...

I am still finding my voice as I see so many styles I like in all the artists on this blog and those who have commented. I know it's within me and that I will find it. Thank you for putting into words exactly what I've been trying to describe when I say I haven't found me yet.

Unknown said...

This is really true. I didn't realize it before but as a customer I look for artists who have a style I recognize, both in jewelry and beads. And then I know I will love all their work because I love their style.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Staci. I am on this journey and reading your post has helped me realize that I have to be patient and it will come! I'm getting closer everyday I think and am looking forward to the day when I finally discover my true artistic voice!You are such an inspiration to me!

Genevieve said...

Thank you for including my work!

Its great to see your your work progressed over time. My husband is an art teacher and that's how he grades students - not compared to each other, but how they grew personally.

Baking Beads in the Keys said...

Loving the theme of this of finding your inner voice and putting your own stamp on your jewelry making.

As a lover and buyer of an eclectic range of jewelry in my younger days (from classic to funky), I was making lots of different kinds of jewelry that WERE from the heart and were me in my earlier work.

It may not have been a cohesive collection, but it was fun as hell to take classes and try all those different techniques and to use those techniques to make different kinds of jewelry. It really juiced me and kept me going when I might otherwise have gotten bored.

Love the "trim" quote. There is another similar one I love. "Be Yourself, everyone else is taken".

Maude McCarthy said...

To me the beauty of this process is that as I am finding my way with clay, I find the self-expression is clarifying me for myself also. Earlier I had to show everything to those around me for clarification. Now I know when I have something that is right, because it feels right for me. There may be faster roads to oneself and to artistry, but I'm liking this one.

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