Steph Kexel of Fiasco Jewelry Studio – Designer Interiew
Enjoy this personal artist interview with Connecticut based jewelry designer Steph Kexel.
One of her truly independent and interesting answers regarding influences: “i try not to have influences. i find that I’m like a sponge. do not look at jewelry because i need to have my ideas be solely my own.”
Also do not miss the “head stuck in a rocking chair” and “fun at the emergency room” parts of this interview .. OK, is it enough of a cliffhanger?
Q: When did you decide to become a jewelry designer?
A: I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and have spent most of my adult life designing jewelry. in college, it was a way to supplement income to attend various musical venues and other things i wasn’t able to afford. i think that as i grew older, i truly became a designer because i have an appreciation of style and found that i could use my hands and ideas to make wearable art.
Q: Can you recall the first piece you made that made you go WOW!?
A: i made a lariat style necklace out of seed beads which are very small (about 1mm) glass beads. i sewed them with a needle and thread in a spiral rope pattern and created a beautiful necklace. the word lariat, by the way, comes from the Spanish “la reata” which means lasso. Mexican cowboys would refer to their lasso as “la reata” and it was Americanized to the word lariat.
Q: Do you have any formal training regarding jewelry design?
A: i am completely self taught. i have learned various techniques from reading books and magazines and then incorporating those techniques into something different and funky.
Q: How technical are your designs?
A: most pieces i make have some complicated aspects incorporated into them in some way or another. I like to mix different techniques in new ways to create things that haven’t been seen before.
Q: Define the word “beauty”!
A: i think that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. i will sometimes make a necklace and think, wow, this is really not pretty. and it’s not that it’s not pretty, just that it’s not my style. that’s usually the piece that customers are going wild about when on display.
Q: What is your most favorite and least favorite word in jewelry design or life? How do they make you feel?
A: “you can’t do that”. i cannot stand when someone says that i (or they) can’t do something. because i truly believe that i can do it all.
Q: Ever concerned about failure?
A: not really. since I’ve been “open” for business, I’ve had great luck. i travel the art show circuit in CT, MA, RI and NY and have had stellar years, business growing with each passing year. my client base continues to expand and grow and they are all such fantastic people. it’s fun to have them as part of my life.
Q: Who are your influences?
A: i try not to have influences. i find that I’m like a sponge. i do not look at jewelry because i need to have my ideas be solely my own. i am aware of the fashion trends, however. purple was a big color at the end of last year, so i did some work with those colors. i also am influenced by nature. since much of my jewelry is made from semi-precious stones, i will sometimes look to nature for new ideas and/or color schemes to design something new.
Q: Describe a day in your personal or professional life.
A: i spend way too much time lately with networking. between keeping up with email, twittering and blogging, there’s little time left to do the actual jewelry making and designing. but i think that this is the plight of all small business owners. if I’m lucky i can sit in my studio for a couple of hours with the music on, making something lovely.
Q: What has been the single biggest obstacle against growing as a jewelry designer in whole?
A: the competition is tremendous in jewelry design and because of that, time is always a constraint. there are so many out there, that you really need to be on the ball and set yourself apart from everyone else with your product.
Q: What are your favorite materials to use in making your jewelry?
A: i love pearls. and shells, too. in my former life, i was a marine biologist, so it is always fun for me to incorporate anything from the sea into my pieces.
Q: Tell your funniest, scariest, most bizarre, most touching story from an art festival.
A: i stepped on a skewer once at an art festival and landed in the ER with my business partner, Kelly. i was fine, but they needed to clean out my foot. i’d have to say that the ER in Litchfield, CT was the most fun we had in a long time. of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that we were there in the wee hours of the morning. there were a bunch of people in the waiting room and we were all laughing hysterically about our ailments and when seen by the staff, they were all complete whack jobs, but in a good way. it was like being in an episode of Scrubs.
Q: Have you ever thought about or actually stopped making jewelry? What were the circumstances?
A: sometimes, all of the traveling and setting up for the art festivals is exhausting. we usually have a break during Christmas, and that first couple of weeks when we’re first off, i always think how nice it is to have the extra time to do other things, like knitting. but inevitably by the end of the month, i’m ready to be busy again, and excited to hit the road.
Q: Do you ever have “designers” block and if yes how do you deal with it?
A: i do. and the only way i can handle that is to walk away. then clear my mind and start over. i need to focus on something completely different than i was working on before and get a new perspective.
Q: Do you think of yourself as an artist and what do you think of the word artist?
A: i do which i think that most people disagree with. i think that an artist is someone who creates something beautiful (which is an individual thing anyway), that is unique and one-of-a-kind.
Q: How do you describe your style?
A: i tend to make very chunky jewelry that is often times kind of weird. i know, that doesn’t sound very inviting. but if you’re looking for a run of the mill piece, then you’ve come to the wrong place!!
Q: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction to your jewelry?
A: my family is always so surprised by what i do. they cannot believe that i make a living doing what i love and that I’m successful at it.
Q: Tell a little secret about yourself that no-one knows …
A: once, when i was little girl, i got my head stuck in a rocking chair and couldn’t get it out. they had to take apart the chair while i was screaming. in case you were wondering, I’m definitely a little (or a lot) clumsy!
Q: What would you have done differently during your career so far and could this be an advice to others?
A: i would have been working longer and harder at social networking. i have only recently become involved in this community and it does wonders for exposure. most artists are great at creating the art, but not so great at the promotion side of things.