Originally posted on November 11th 2017 by Gerald A. Livings
I have seen several posts on Facebook about being an artist and a jeweler lately. Every post has one thing in common. Everyone has comments about getting overwhelmed by not being able to produce a quality of work out of the gate that equals the work of someone who has literally decades of experience.
People who look at the simple bezel soldered to a ring and feel bad because they see all of the mistakes. Who quit because they can not see a future in their art. People who point at the work of artists and jewelers who grew up in families that encouraged art. Who worked in the jewelry trade. And some who are truly gifted in their art. And then quit because they have no artistic ability.
Am I wrong to want to grab these people by the shoulders and shake them until they see that does not matter?
I am going to use myself as the example here. OK?
But to have a common place to start the conversation, we need to define a few words first so we are talking about the same thing.
Lets start by defining “Artistic”:
Having or revealing natural creative skill. Relating to or characteristic of art or artists. Aesthetically pleasing.
And defining “Creative”:
Relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something. Having good imagination or original ideas.
Possession of the means or skill to do something. Talent, skill, or proficiency in a particular area.
I am going to use myself as the example. So get ready for what I truly think about my creative and artistic abilities.
About my “artistic ability”. I think it is safe to say I have never had any what-so-ever. ”
And I hear people screaming everywhere “But Jerry! How can you say such a thing!”
Easy. I have no “artistic ability“. But I do not care about that.
I have plenty of “creative ability”. I would prefer to have both. But hey. what it comes down to is that I am a high school drop out who passed every art class with a D- because my teachers took pity on me. No ability at all. When I took up jewelry as a hobby it was to teach myself patience. Not because anything I ever made was nice.
To be honest, those first few years if you compared my work to dog crap, you were being unfair to dog crap.
But I practiced, and tried, and learned. And I threw out most of what I made. But in the end, I discovered that while I would never be a great jewelry designer, I had more than my share of creative ability. So while my designs might be average at best, and I would never be a designer in a big jewelry house or have my own store with unique lines of baubles. I know I can follow a clients instructions to make what they want. And I can repair the hell out of just about anything if given the correct tools to work with.
So how does this tie in to the top of the post?
Because it does not matter how bad you are when you start. You can and will improve.
Be overwhelmed. That is ok.
I am overwhelmed by the great work I see everyday. But let that be your inspiration as well. Pick one thing you like about a piece of art or jewelry. And then make a copy of just that one thing. Then throw it out. And do that nine more times. I will bet money that by the time you throw out the ninth piece and do the tenth, you will be much better.
Take that first ring with the off-centered and crooked bezel with the scratched up stone and hang on to it. Twenty year later, I challenge you to make that exact ring but better.
Yeah. Laugh. My first piece, a pendant, is hanging in a shadowbox in my library. When I started, I never saw any future for myself in the jewelry trade. Never. But with lots of practice, I improved. And to those reading this and feeling that they will never improve, and are overwhelmed, just know you will improve.
Use me as your example. Please.
So don’t worry about being gifted or how artistic or creative you are now. practice. And practice some more. that practice gives you ability. And later, when you have the ability to make stuff, then you can worry about how your creative and artistic abilities balance.
So work on ability first. Being artistic and or creative will come in it’s own time.