Is Jewelry Making an Art Form? What Do YOU Think?

by Karen.

Is jewelry making considered an art?

I am asking this question and would love to hear what others think because, I am a jewelry maker and I am part of a local art co-op.

I had another artist (oil painter) that isn’t part of the art co-op say to me that jewelry is not considered art and that I would never be allowed to participate in a gallery show at the competing artist guild in town.

I was so offended by this comment and her arrogance; particularly since this artist guild offers classes in jewelry making (many of which I have taught for them) and I have sat on their Board of Directors.

I feel like they wanted my time, talent and money but if they were not going to support all forms of art why be a member of the artist guild. I would love to hear what you have to say. . . do you consider jewelry making an art?

Thanks

Karen
Sweet Cherry Designs

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  • Summer says:

    Oh boy…
    ABSOLUTELY!! Jewelry is definitely an artform. Aside from asking the dreaded “what IS art” question, take at look at what purpose art serves. Art brings us joy. It doesn’t open cans or cook our food or fix cars or cut grass. Jewelry isn’t a tool…it’s art. It just happens to be art that is so portable that we can carry it around our little finger or dangle it from our ears or wrap it around our throat. Of course, I’m not talking about mass-produced jewelry bought at discount stores. That stuff did start out as art at some point, but became grossly cheapened, in my opinion. Beautiful jewelry has the power of making the wearer feel more beautiful. If I could wear a perfect painting of a gorgeous sunset, I would. I can’t, so instead, I’ll wear a necklace that evokes that same beauty.

    If the argument becomes (or is actually) “art vs. craft”, then I’d say a macaroni necklace is a craft and *this* is art. 🙂 Kind of like painting with pudding versus oil, huh? (Actually, that argument is a hot topic and, when you get right down to it, it doesn’t matter. It’s still a joy whether it’s a craft or an art. But, you can probably see where I stand in that debate.)

  • Aneata says:

    Hi Karen,
    I absolutely agree with Summer. I describe myself as an artist in jewellery design. I draw and paint my ideas and designs, I create them using hand tools from raw materials as a sculptor does. Each creation is a piece of art in it’s own right.
    I feel that it is wrong for the guild to include you and use your time and skill if they do not view you as ‘one of them’.
    Oh, and I would have been extremely offended by that lady’s comments too!

  • Very well said, Summer and Aneata!

    The entire process of making jewelry – from choosing the supplies, to creating the piece, to the final finishing – involves artistic decisions every step of the way.

    At most art shows I’ve been to, handmade jewelry is one of the most represented categories of art.

    Also, every art museum I’ve visited has had gorgeous examples of jewelry on display – right alongside the paintings, sculptures, photography, pottery, and other artforms.

    And although I don’t understand why, some people want to limit what art is.

    I truly feel sad for those folks – they’re missing so much of the beauty and joy of being alive.

    Art isn’t a small, closed, tightly defined box. You can create art from nearly anything.

    I’ve seen sand castles, food garnishes, and flower gardens that were art.

    Art is life. Life is art.

    They flow together naturally on a tide of creativity – and no one can realistically say that something isn’t art.

  • Is splattering paint on a canvas art? Art truly is in the eye of the beholder. I love creating something beautiful that the wearer loves wearing.

  • Kathie L says:

    Greetings…. It is really funny that you asked that question. Some friends and I were just discussing this same question. I have been calling myself a Jewelry Artist – used to call myself a Jewelry Designer…. All 5 of my friends that I was discussing this with said, “Jewelry Artist.”

    They say that is all encompassing (jewelry artist, designer, etc); whereas, Jewelry Designer is thought to be the creator and then have it mass produced. Personally, I truly think Jewelry Artist encompasses it all; AND, yes jewelry is definitely an art…. Jewelry Maker seems to be less creative than Jewelry Artist. Good luck to you….

  • To me, art is anything you create. Whatever the medium, if you create something that brings pleasure to the viewer, it is art. Jewelry creation and quilting often are called crafts, but both are just, in my opinion, one more medium for an artist to create in.

  • Tamara says:

    This is an interesting conversation – the whole concept of labels is what it comes down to, and what those labels mean to different people. I used to work as a Floral Designer – that was my job title where I worked. And just about everything I did was one of a kind, with the exception of Christmas time – because of the high volume of sales, the Designer would sometimes create a design for Floral Arrangers to copy the style of, substituting different flowers and fillers.

    When I started doing jewellery, I fell into Jewellery Designer, eventually, when I felt prodded into having a title. Before that I just said, “I make jewellery” or “I have a little jewellery business”. My friend and marketer, Liana, was the one who decided she was going to start using the title Jewellery Artist for me. She was also the one who first gave a name to my collection. Before that I was content to work behind the scenes and provide jewellery for her business under her name.

    Each time there has been a stepping forward to a new business name or title, it has felt a little vulnerable because it has been a move to a more authentic description of myself, and it has made me embrace that at the same time. So I use Artist now, for all my creative endeavours, and have grown into feeling that I am an artist, and that is what I’m supposed to be. But I’m still comfortable with the title Designer as well, because of the connotation I have of that title, and because I have a good connection to that as well.

    It’s funny because when I first met Teresa, one of my most recent marketers, her initial question to me was “Are you a beader?” I felt a smile playing at the edges of my mouth, and replied “Yes, I’m a jewellery artist.” I didn’t get offended at her use of that title. She used it because that was what she felt she was needing – someone to bead. If I had gotten offended, the resulting relationship wouldn’t have happened, and a chance to work as a Jewellery Artist for her. And that is what she refers to me as. It was just a matter of educating her, in a way that was win-win for both of us.

  • Karen says:

    The first and broadest sense of art is the one that has remained closest to the older Latin meaning, which roughly translates to “skill” or “craft.”
    (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

    In my mind, art is expressing oneself! Being creative, whether you are painting or designing jewelry! You are an Artist and definitely have my vote!

  • Diana Redlin says:

    I had the good fortune to become friends with a woman thirty years my senior.
    Her whole life was art. How she decorated her home, the meals she cooked, the gatherings she had. The things she bought to enhance her experience of life, all became works of art, some big and some small but still SHE made them part of her own aesthetic.

    I learned from her to expand all the definitions of my life to include the art and beauty around me and realize the artist within me.

  • Vicky says:

    You are right – your oil-painting friend is arrogant. Art however is in the eye of the beholder. He probably doesn’t think Damien Hurst makes art either. Perhaps if we all rebrand our creations ‘wearable art’ people will think differently about them. xx

  • choi says:

    hi, i make jewelries myself, i fondly call them “wearable works of art”. i am also a part of a local art group… i paint, i sculpt, i’m also fond of doing crafts. i guess it has become part of my life. personally i think it is a form of art, in an essence that all of us can make a bracelet or a necklace all the same but the design that you come up on your own- now that is art. maybe that friend of yours failed to see that.

  • Annette says:

    I’m going to buck the trend slightly here and say that some jewellery certainly is art, but a lot of it is functional, decorative and made with skill by artisans rather than artists. Although I have some jewellery in art galleries and am a member of a couple of arts guilds and have been told that I have an artists eye with colours, materials and combinations, I still consider myself an artisan rather than an artist.

  • Nancy says:

    I have found that many artists whose medium is paint or clay or blown glass look down on artists who use a camera or create jewelry. Jewelers who make very expensive “artsy” jewelry look down on “bead stringers.” But there is a place for us all, and it is all art! My artsier designs rarely make it to my website, primarily because I am a dreadful photographer. And here is my confession: I love “bead stringing” — putting together stunningly beautiful gemstones or Swarovski crystals in pleasing patterns. Not everyone can afford to buy the expensive “artsy” jewelry, and not everyone would wear it, even though it can be wonderful.

    There are two things I love about making jewelry: discovering and playing with gemstones (a totally addictive habit), and even better, the joy of seeing someone light up when they put on one of my pieces of jewelry. I love making people feel good about themselves — and what can better do that than a piece of jewelry! I would hope all jewelers can say the same about their own creations, regardless of the type.

    In short, I believe it is all art. We all create it for one reason or another. It pleases us — and hopefully it pleases others. Isn’t that what art is all about?

  • zoraida says:

    I think of myself a jewelry artist and would probably have been outraged at a comment like that. It’s not only arrogant, it’s ignorant as well. There is so much out there that is addressed as “art” that is not. Whether you wear it, hang it on a wall, display it on a table, or eat it, something created by one’s imagination and talent that manifests into a state our senses can appreciate is art.

  • Jackie says:

    Well, I think it’s obvious what the response will be from the readers of this website-of course creating jewelry is art! From the very first time I picked up a bead to string on wire, I was envisioning how the combination of colors could create a feeling for the person viewing it. That simple beading approach has since evolved into annealing sheet metal, fusing fine silver & creating leather jewelry. Its not possible to determine precisely where on the spectrum of skill development that “a craft hobby” becomes “art”. But the bottom line is, anything created by the desire to evoke a response from the viewer is art. And as a dear friend once told me…the world needs art!

  • When people ask, I tell them that I am a “designer of wearable art”. Remind those that make the comment of “jewelry is not art” that they all started from a hobby. Did the person that paints start out as a professional painter, no they started as a hobby and a passion for painting. Same goes for the wood worker, glass blower, etc. But in the end it is all still art in one form or another and should be looked upon as the same.

  • Rosiland says:

    Yes! Jewelry making is definitely an art form. Making jewelry on any level is a form of art. I don’t care if it it is a basic bracelet that you make from beads and string or custom jewelry that you make with gold and diamonds. It is all art that comes from one’s imagination, creativity, design and crafting abilities.

  • Tracy May says:

    I have heard this over and over again and my response is:it depends. Stringing beads in a line using a pattern made by someone else is on par with paint by numbers.Copying someone else’s design and changing a few colours etc, not so much art as craft. Creating designs inspired by whatever is trendy or in style this season, artisanal.Creating your own designs that are unique to you and if replicated, are missing that certain something, now that is art.

    I refer to myself as jewellery designer because it seems to “click”with people and sound more friendly than jewellery artist and also because jewellery, like clothes, is worn rather than displayed(most of the time!)

    I think the real issue here is that some people(like the painter who questionned if jewellery is an art) are just sooooo pretentious….boo hiss

  • Mary Anne says:

    Ok…deep breath. From an intellectual stand point, the argument of what is “art” and what is “craft” is an ancient debate. There are many books and college course on the subject. Only a few decades ago…the differences between the 2 were very distinct, and one was not shown at the other’s fairs, or galleries.

    In the most simplest historic ….Craft is “utilitarian”….which means it serves a useful purpose…and jewelry along with basket making, ceramic dishware, textile design / fabrication, leather working, etc were considered useful utilitarian objects.

    Ok, another deep breath…art was an intellectual activity solely for non utilitarian use….art was made to look at and admire. Be it sculpture or paintings.

    Of course, in the 21st century, art and craft mixes. We no can longer define modern creativity in this manner ..well most of us that is. Things crossover, and definitions blur. Many shows…are quite clear in having an “art show” versus a “craft fair.” There CAN be a huge difference. I would not be upset by the comments. It might be that the “artist” attended art school and studied art theory which is important on the way to a degree in art.

  • Nancy says:

    Of course Jewelry is art. It involves the use of the same principles and elements of design that are used in any other art form.

    Personally I think it is the way the medium is used that determines if the finished piece is art or craft. If you paint pictures it is an art. If you paint houses it is a craft. Individuals who do either are called painters but there is a world of difference in the outcome and the way the medium is used. However, they are both still painters.

    Just consider this rude oil painter as an under-educated individual with a very narrow point of view.

  • Tracy May says:

    interesting, have been thinking about this all morning and am currently reading a book that is about art and they talk about how artists didn’t orginally sign paintings (5-600 yrs ago), because they were considered on par with other craftspeople such as shoemakers.Just goes to show how things change…..

  • Delia Stone says:

    Jewelry is the art we adorn our bodies with. The rest of the stuff we just put on a wall or table. Which do you think is more important? Our friends and family are allowed to see the art we adorn our house with, by invitation of course. However, our jewelry is the art we show the world! Jewelery is absolutely an art. Your arrogant painter friend is just that … arrogant AND uninformed.

  • aileen says:

    I have read all the comments. It is interesting on the debate. Six years ago I entered two pieces of Wire Jewelry into a silent auction fundraiser for a local town. My two pieces received more bids than any other entry in the show. The following year I entered two more pieces and the same thing happened. The third year I was informed that jewelry is not art. I asked for their definition of art and was told that craft is done with brass, copper, and the like, whereas art uses precious metals. Well, the painter photographer who is on the board and so jealous of my success thought that was the end of me. Not so. I also create wire sculpture bonsai trees and I entered them into that same art show/silent auction and continue to have much success. When this all happened I looked up the definition of art and craft in the dictionary. The lines have already become blurred. I don’t get it I am still at a loss. I just tell people that I make wire sculpture that is wearable. My husband introduces me as a wire sculpture artist.

  • Cairenn Day says:

    Some jewelry is ART, some is craft, but that is true of most forms of ‘art/craft’.

    An original painting is ART, a paint by number or a ‘formula’ painting is craft. Your vacation pictures are ‘craft’, but there are art photographs. Most folks would consider slip cast clay work as craft, but I have a friend that will take one of those slip cast jars or plates and she will do wonderful Majolica painting on it. That is art.

    Let’s look a popular ‘artist’ of our time, Thomas Kinkade. Was his work ‘art’ or craft? Remember he didn’t even paint most of his paintings, he added to them. But at the same time, the great painters of the Renaissance did not do most of their ‘paintings’ either.

    Much jewelry is sculptural, it takes many skills to make.

    I call myself a Jewelry Artist, I make art you can wear.

  • Jewelry IS art, no doubt about it. I see so much beautiful handmade jewelry that would look amazing framed & hanging on the wall of any art gallery.

  • Kim Klass says:

    I think you can wake up each day and decide if you are going to be offended by other peoples words or not. True artists seem to forge ahead striving to improve the quality of their craftsmanship because that is who they are. They eventually create “true works of art” .

  • Lynne Clark says:

    Ask that person if they consider Van Gogh, Renoir, and the other impressionists and abstract painter artists. I certainly don’t! Paintings with 3 breasted women or melting clocks or color blocks, etc. is certainly not what I consider art: a child could have made them [or an ape, elephant, or any of the other “painting” animals out there].

    Jewelry I do consider Art! and I send that grump a raspberry!

  • Librada says:

    GO figure! I used to say that I made jewelry, it wasn’t the right way to present my work (but I make it). So I decided to say that I was a jewelry designer, but designer felt like I needed a formal degree to label myself a designer(not true). I went on, my business coach titled me a jewelry artist, It was the first time I thought of myself as an artist, I had difficulties coming to term with the new concept. At the end, I realized that it takes an ARTISTIC mind to MAKE jewelry that shows a good DESIGN. I just stopped worrying about how others want to label me, and I just define myself as whatever my soul feels is right. So Artist it is!

  • Chris Rehkop says:

    Absolutely jewelry making is an art form! Just like other artists, I feel each piece I make encompasses my creativity, skills, knowledge of materials and tools, my time, and a piece of my heart – just like a painter or sculptor, etc.

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