“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.” —Chuck Close
This notion expressed by Close speaks to the practicality and workmanship that lies beneath any great artist’s persona. We may perceive them as divinely inspired creators, but at the end of the day, artists are doing a job. They show up to work every day—the same as anyone else—except their workspace is a studio, not an office.
The balance between practicality and whimsy, intuition and planning, was a central point of consideration among the jewelry artists –– Isabelle Posillico, Diana Ferguson and Michael McRae –– featured in this Art Discovery discussion.
Isabelle Posillico has a background in interior architecture, which has indeed influenced her approach to jewelry making. She often sketches her designs before she begins working with the raw materials.
Architectural shapes and dimensions inform her pieces: “I [am] trying to make something more 3-dimensional that [has] some volume to it,” she said.
Like an architect, Posillico also has to consider the functionality of her pieces. “As a jeweler, I like to have things that are actually practical to wear, that are functional, that aren’t too heavy,” she said.
While Diana Ferguson’s background is in marketing, her beadwork pieces become like works of structural engineering as she plays with string tension to add volume and dimension to her woven pieces.
“I’m interested in physics and structure,” she noted. “A lot of my inspiration has come from contemporary geometric beadwork, which is very involved with physical structures.”
Michael McRae infuses texture into his pieces in a way that is influenced by his background as a photographer. “One of the main jobs as a photographer is to declutter or make sense of all the lines, all the intersections, all the contrast, all the colors and try to bring that down to a simpler form…something that’s a little more focused or cohesive,” he said.
He aims to bring a similar sense of order to his jewelry creations. McRae rarely wastes any of his materials, hanging onto scraps and waiting for them to spark inspiration on future pieces.
Ferguson speaks of having a similar balance of planning and spontaneity present in her creative process. “Often my work has some synchronicity involved in it, just following what happens and taking the direction of the piece. Each step inspires me to the next step.”
Fortunately, jewelry is more forgiving than architecture in this regard. There is more room to play and explore once the creative process begins when you are crafting a piece to be worn, rather than a building that must respect the realities of physics.
Posillico speaks of the joy of finding solutions as she progresses in her work. She begins with a sketch and linework and then moves onto soldering pieces together. Sometimes, though, once the soldering has begun, she finds herself questioning where she will be able to fit a stone or gem.
That’s where her mix of intuition and expertise comes in handy. This is her life’s work, and she has the wisdom to sit back, let the piece speak to her, and find a way to move the process forward. No lightning bolt, just hard work and commitment, day after day.
Watch the replay here: