20 September 2010

Issues and Truths- The Way I See It

For nearly the past year and a half,
I've worked hard at my craft and at myself.
I've cracked and crumbled and completely fallen away from what I respect.
I've tried with all sincerity to build myself back up to being an artist.
It's been a hell of a ride, this tiny career of mine.
And through the course of this journey, whilst picking my way over trial and error,
struggling to sort out friends from foes,
trying to discover and rediscover myself and my find my voice,
I've come to believe a few key things.

I have slowly assembled my own formula for creating what I believe to be good design.
For me, these are the truths behind the process of making art.
And without these,
what is made is simply a shallow, superficial form.
Perhaps pretty, perhaps interesting.
But pretty does not good design make.
Interesting is not automatic art.

You've asked me before what I think constitutes idea theft.
I've talked to you openly and honestly of my thoughts on this subject.

But let me elaborate a bit,
and perhaps be a bit more gentle, if still direct.

These are the truths that I personally find central to good design:
1.) Inspiration
2.) Intention
3.) Evaluation
4.) Evolution

And in my opinion, a good designer will be able to show evidence of these truths,
not just in spurts, but across the board of their bodies of work.

I thought this was pretty straight forward.
It's seeing or partaking in something we love, and infusing the essence of that which we loved,
or bits of that essence, into our own work.
"Inspiration" is not a synonym for imitation.
It is not synonymous with simulation.
Inspiration is the seed from which art stems.
The seed, people.
Flowers do not grow from flowers.

Look, if you're making it because you love it,
because it speaks to you,
because you wake up in the morning and your heart and brain and soul sing
and you feel that, regardless of whether or not the world loves it or not,
it MUST be made,
you'll be alright.
I really believe you will be alright.
That you will know success at some point.
If, on the other hand,
you're making it only because it's selling well for someone else
and you just happened to be able to execute their technique,
or find those components . . .
If you're making only for the sake of money,
that's not art.
It is the intention, in my opinion, that makes art . . . art.

Look hard at what you've made.
Was it successful?
Was it built from the heart, was it truly yours through and through?
Was it executed as you intended for it to be,
whether that be symmetrical and balanced or gloriously lopsided?
Does it convey your inspiration?
Is it clean? Well-made? Structurally sound and finished to perfection,
be that with an intentional rustic vibe or pristine edges?
Will people look at it and know in an instant that it is your work
or will they mistake it for someone else's?
When you look at it,
do you see you . . . or me?
And be honest.
It's the only way to grow.

If you're not an idea thief,
if you're truly an artist or a designer,
your work will never be static.
It will change, step by step,
it will grow by leaps and bounds over time.

(And by "grow and change", I don't mean that your style will jump randomly
to whatever design styles are selling well at the time.)

Not just your technical skills,
which can be expected to improve with repeated application.
But your designer's mind,
which like a muscle,when regularly used and stretched,
will expand and become lithe.
You'll dream up new ideas, you'll build upon old ones.
You'll not be content to try on other's shoes.
Rather you'll stomp awkwardly around in your own,
unsure of your footing,
until one day the stiff basic steps you've been practicing become
a dance that is completely yours.

* * *

I don't think that good design has to be complicated.
I don't think that "gaudy" means "good."
I DO think that good design has to be thoughtful.
Simply throwing embellishments all over a setting without plan or purpose
is only practicing your technical skills.
And meanwhile, taking another's ideas and soldering them,
hither and thither,
onto your own pieces,
is just . . .
shitty work.
Shitty art.
Shitty action.

Once again, I'm going to say this:
I don't ever want to come off like I have an overgrown ego.
I know very well where my beginnings lie,
and I don't claim to be anywhere near the best on Etsy,
much less the rest of the metal-smithing world.
Everyday I see work that inspires me.
Everyday I see others who are better,
everyday I see great ideas and authentic strides being made
towards making something amazing.
And everyday I try myself to be just a bit more than I was the day before.
I'm never going to be perfect,
you are never going to hear me call myself a leader.

But here's what I will say about me:

I'll never fling something together,
only to look at it after the fact and figure out what it sort of reminds me of,
slap a title on it that is derived from that reminder,
price it so that I undercut my competition,
and then claim to the world that it is dreamed up, soulful art.

I'll continue to follow my heart and try my best at what I do and NOT what you do.
I'll make terrible work some days,
pieces that are plain ugly.
Failures in all aspects other than in what they taught me about technique.
But those failures, they will be all mine.
Just as every successful piece will be all mine because it came from within.

I'll continue to be in a constant state of flux between pride and self-doubt,
and I think that's healthy,
as it keeps me pushing forward.

I believe in originality.
In doing the right thing by others.
In being honest with ourselves and one other as we all try to make a living do what we love.
In being humble.
In being strong.
I believe in the notion of influence free from mimicry.

But I wish more people felt the same.
There is a serious lack of respect that is running rampant around these parts.
And to add insult to injury, a frequent denial of this disrespect by those who are being the most disrespectful.

Remember this:

- Vincent Van Gogh

The authentic self is the soul made visible.
-Sarah Ban Breathnach


  1. Brava! ::applauds::

    My favorite bit was this, "You'll not be content to try on other's shoes. Rather you'll stomp awkwardly around in your own,unsure of your footing,until one day the stiff basic steps you've been practicing become a dance that is completely yours."

    I'm awkwardly stomping right now, so I really relate to this and appreciate the reassurance that, one day, I'll figure out this dance that my feet want to do.

    All the best to you, and to your continued one-of-a-kind inspirations!

  2. This is a very well written, sincere post. You spoke what is in your heart and you nailed the definition of art.

    I wonder what that "other" person thinks about the pieces she is making? Her work is clearly a jump, not a meld into a new design and technique. Does she really think she created the designs. Can she be blind to the fact that what she is making is a carbon copy and not original? Its hard to give the benefit of the doubt.

    You have grown Jess. Your reaction to this comes across as very professional. I don't know what you can do about it, but your demeanor has certainly matured. Good luck with whatever resolution you find.

  3. Thank you, Andrea. I hope you know that despite the actions of some out there, a lot of us are rooting for both you and each other. Keep stomping. And all the best right back to you.

    And Carol:
    That means the world. It's good to hear I've grown up. Not to say I don't lose my cool from time to time, but maybe I'm making a turn for the better. *hug*

  4. Beautifully said Jess. I loved what you said about failed pieces and successful pieces. I honestly believe whenever I make a piece that fails to be what I wanted, it is a reminder or something telling me that I can do so much better. I can push forward. And when there is a success, it is that much sweeter because of the progression that got me there :-)
    There is a HUGE difference between seeing someone's work and being inspired by its sheer awesomeness ( as in "wow that is amazing, it makes me strive to feel amazing in my own work and develop my own style" versus "wow that is so cool, and its selling, so I am gonna try and make that!") I honestly can't see how people can think like that and then try and call it "inspiration".

    Oh, and the constant state of flux between pride and self doubt? You know I "know" that. And you right, it is healthy. It makes us who we are, and shows where we have come from.

  5. Oh, Jess. That was beautifully said. I'm giving you a standing ovation right now, with tears streaming down my cheeks. You inspire me in so many ways, your truth, your authenticity, your strength, your talent.

    "I believe in originality.
    In doing the right thing by others.
    In being honest with ourselves and one other as we all try to make a living do what we love.
    In being humble.
    In being strong.
    I believe in the notion of influence free from mimicry.

    But I wish more people felt the same.
    There is a serious lack of respect that is running rampant around these parts.
    And to add insult to injury, a frequent denial of this disrespect by those who are being the most disrespectful."

    HEAR, HEAR!!

    I'm sharing this all over the place: twitter, blog, facebook.

    Love you.

  6. Jaime and Alice, thanks for always being there.

    BTW, funny how the parts of my post that are getting quoted are the ones where I've made grammatical errors. I didn't see them until you guys copied and pasted what I wrote! :)


  7. You ALWAYS keep in real...and from the SOUL...that's what heirloom is all about.....

  8. this was an incredible post in many ways - first, i am awed by your ability to so clearly express your feelings and ideas... this is so well thought out and genuine - you can feel how it comes from you -
    i am interested to go back and read your other posts on the subject... but one thing i must say, those pieces of wearable sculpture/art - those incredible miniatures filled with meaning and beauty - i truly admire what you put into them - the thought and time it takes to make pieces with such intention... so sorry you are plagued by a person(s) doing this -

  9. Jess,
    Again I applaud your candor on a topic I find so infuriating!! All very well said. I just wish you didn't have to deal with it at all.

  10. This was an amazing. heartbreaking. beautiful. post. I felt so much of what you actually were able to coherently say - and I am so touched. You have completely and totally described what it is to be artistic, creative, and HAUNTED by it all. I have yet to be copied - but I know it's coming - and I am SO sorry that this is happening to you. And as Alice said, I'm sharing this all over the place. You are an inspiration. That isn't something anyone can copy.

    You know I love your realness and heart, Jj....

    You are figuring out the most important pieces of life and art and business.

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxox and whiskey,
    your secret sailor

  12. Always here Jess, always :-)

    I didn't noticed any grammatically errors, however, I don't look for those things. In fact, I am one big walking grammatical error lol. When someone writes as beautifully as you, and expresses their thoughts and feelings so clearly and elegantly, you just don't don't notice anything other than the honest integrity of it all.

  13. Don't worry - faux rosies are easy to spot.

    Perhaps your...admirers...had teachers like mine in elementary school. I can remember being furious over having my work copied in third grade art class and being told "imitation is the most sincere form of flattery."

    Even at the age of seven, I knew that was BS. You put it much more eloquently (though it still smells the same).

  14. As always Jess, well said! Said with intention, but said like a true lady. That is what resonates with me in this post. Not only is your art evolving, but so is your wisdom.

    Sending a hug and high five! >3

  15. I saw Alice's post on FB and came over to read what you wrote. And I have to stand in appreciation too. I'm really proud of this post. Of the sentiment and the restraint. Your work is unique and beautiful and it's hard to believe someone thinks that they can copy it's essence. And I have to say I have a morbid curiosity to see their attempt. I'm sure it falls flat.

    I also know, although I don't know you at all, that you'll continue to grow and expand your design language. That your work will change and evolve. And the other person's will wither on the vine. Or transform into yet another's design concepts.

    Keep going. And thrive. Lora ~

  16. It gives me great joy to watch a small army of beautiful and strong women create remarkable art. If baffles me that anyone would try to abuse and cheat the process.

    They cheat themselves the most.

  17. Bravo! Applause! That is so well said, it should be mandatory reading for everyone!

  18. WOW! That is so beautifully said. :)

    It is like I have told my children (now young adults)over and over; there are lots of "Bad" people on the planet but they are completely outweighed by the "good" people and so, choose everytime to be a part of the "good" people in everything you do, the planet needs that positive energy :)

    Popped over from my wonderful blogger Buddy Alice Istanbuls' blog :)

    Have a wonderful evening, T. :)

  19. excuse me,
    but, fuck yeah.

  20. jess, you and your work are beautiful.

    please keep staying true to yourself for i can see your soul in your work, your pictures, and the words you write.

  21. Jess....your pieces have an originality of flair and style that cannot be copied....when I see a piece similar to yours in style...it sadly never measures up...there is a lacking that it will never have because it's creator is copying a style they admire...but clearly it is not an inherent style of their own. The copycats are probably too afraid of personal failure that they hitch a style ride...that takes them on a journey that has no end...no closure...no uniqueness of purpose. I will always support your creative process Jess as well as other artisans forging their own unique creative paths. Hugs Jess...you're awesome!

  22. Clearly a post from the heart...I'm so sad that you're experiencing this...the difference in your final product will always show though...

  23. Ah Rosy although I am new to your blog it seems you may have just experienced idea theft, I am so sorry, alot of people said to me when this happened to me that I should be flattered, I wasn't at all trust me, it was my baby, my creation a part of me , in all our pieces that go out something of us in them, but I do bleieve in karma and man is she one wicked chick and she will get you when you do mean things to people wo whomever stoled from you had better looke out she coming after them usually within 6 mts. At least thats what I think. Just remember you are the artist not them and them remember karma and laugh.

  24. beautiful and honest post.

    I adore your work and think its some of the most original around. You can see that real inspiration and soul goes into every piece.

    Dont let the haters get ya down!

  25. Jess, what a beautiful and gracious post! I had been thinking that I didn't know how you could stand it, but your words are so truthful and stong. Time will prove everything - the imitators will fall short, and fade away, while you will continue to soar. Your ever-evolving work constantly amazes me, and inspires me to strive to grow as an artist!

  26. Personally I always can see there is soul missing from a piece that has been 'inspired' a little too heavily by someone else...

    Keep going Jess your work is fabulous to look at and your soul is apparent in all your pieces.

  27. Where I come from....we just say 'amen to that'. Keep on truckin' girl, you'll get where you're going even if you have to run over a few speed bumps along the way. :)

  28. I found the link through Alicia Istanbul's post on Facebook, and I'm so glad I followed it to this post. There is nothing remotely flattering about idea theft, dishonoring as it does the entire process of creation. Thank you for a beautiful and insightful post...you truly have great talent as an artist and a writer.

  29. *standing, clapping profusely*

    I LOVE how, when you have something to say, you say it with SUCH elegance and respect that the only feeling we are left with is awe! You have such a way with words {understandable when you see your way with metalwork!}

    Please don't ever give up on putting people in their place.....I love you for it!


    hello gorgeous xxx

  30. As always, Jess, beautifully worded. I'm still clomping like crazy & have been since I started, but I revel in pouring myself over the pieces of art created by my favorite artists.

    I think I accidentally stumbled over "said" person & some of the random similarities are actually a little disturbing. We know our Rosy, even if someone is trying to rip off your style as well as your brand.

    Thanks for keeping it real!!


  31. Wow! Incredibly well, clearly written and riveting to read.
    Loved it. Genuine, authentic "voice". Inspirational.

  32. ahhhh you are such a wise old woman yet in such a tender age!
    JJ I feel you said it best when you talk about working form the heart...THAT IS KEY!!! When you work form your own heart...and not your head, then what ever you create..whatever it is you are creating will be yours...you just cannot duplicate heart stuff...a certain energy will be a part of that piece and that kind of energy cannot be tampered with or duplicated, or copied...that is why when this is done, when there is theft, you can "feel" it..not to get all hippy dippy on you, but this IS art we are talking about and art comes form the heart!
    You have indeed grown, and I have loved watching you this past year and a half, your maturing and strength can be seen in your pieces i ALWAYS see a piece of you in everything you make, that is what makes it so great...when are people gonna get it that they just can not duplicate that???
    Head held high and chin up lady, you rock, there ain't no denying that!

    love and light
    as always

  33. This is such an incredibly honest and inspiring post, Jess. I have come back to read it a few times now, to let your words really soak in. You have a way with words that is captivating, you speak from your heart...and you create from your heart. Your work has soul, and it is obvious how hard you have worked to get to this point with your art (I didn't realise just how hard until I read your other posts).

    I pity those people who have lost their way and taken a path that is not their own, those who have let self-doubt take over and left self-respect behind.

    You are never static, you are always growing and evolving...and getting better every day. Keep marching to the beat of your own drum, Jess :-)


  34. When I grow up I want to be the designing mind, the Artist, outlined in this most excellent and poignant credo.

    btw, can't wait to see the next awe-inspiring works born of all the elements of you in this post.

  35. I really feel for you. I watched your video earlier and you're a very real person and I am not happy this is happening to you.

  36. I admirer your work all the time! And follow the blog too.I have to put my small 2 cent in ! (just cant sit here and keep my mouth shut )
    But I can see and have always notice on etsy a few who are changing their jewelry making patterns and it looks like your technique to me . It can be flattering but it is a little upsetting to see them blaintingly stealing your ideas and work. Sorry If I seem rude but I think it is wrong. I will not point them out But I will not buy from them either!

  37. I am such an admirer of your work and your prose, particularly this post...extremely well said.