by Anne Rush.
I recently was invited to participate in a panel discussion at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. FIT is now and has been over the last 20 years a resource to our industry of some of the best new design talent I have had the pleasure to work with.
This specific class focuses on giving the students insight into the various careers they can enter through interaction with the professionals currently leading the largest brands and companies in the design of jewelry for the industry.
Our focus on this particular evening was costume jewelry design. Students asked many questions about what designing in a corporate world is like, and what aspects of their education apply most to preparing them for it. Some of the key points we offered to them are as follows:
- Make sure no matter what course of study you take that you have a very good base understanding of how to make jewelry.Manufacturing terms and process are very important in either fine or costume design. Any hands on experience a student can get in working with metals is a plus. This is at the core of good design. The ability to speak about how you want your design made is important all through your career.
- Learning to render jewelry in the classic way using gouache is important.However, in the industry you will most likely never use this skill. The painting process will teach you the use of light to render your designs, and will give you the best understanding of how to work fast later with pencils, markers, and computer design. Take the time to learn the classic process so that you have a strong traditional base to build upon.
- Computer design is important in the industry and we all value as directors the ability of new designers to make use of technology. However, the number one skill we look for is drawing.There are so many times you may never have access to a computer to communicate your designs. You may be on a plane, in another country, or working in a factory where pencil and paper is all you have. Get great at sketching your ideas.
- Technical drawing is critical.You must be able to draw an object from top, front,and side. Measurements must align and make sense. Get a good technical drawing text book and keep it always in your library.
- Internship programs are when and where you will establish your reputation, work ethic, and make every contact that will certainly be a part of your era of design.Do not underestimate this stage of your career. People are looking for hardworking talent. Make a good impression. Turn off your phone and your i-pod. Meet the people you work with and gather their contact information. Today with access to sites like Linkedin.com you have no excuse for not building a network for yourself right away.
- Remember that you don’t have to come out of college knowing everything.Ask questions and advice from those of us who have had to do the same. Respect the various talents that work alongside you in bringing product to market. Designing Jewelry as a career is a wonderful way to earn a living.
- Pass on what you know to help others.You will always get more than you give.
Author Anne Rush is a Professional Creative executive with over 20 years of experience in the direction of design for major companies in New York City. Brands she has directed include Monet, Kenneth Cole, Liz Claiborne, and Jennifer Lopez. Anne is currently the director of design, merchandising and marketing at TSI Accesssory Group in New York City.
by: Janine Gerade
You have posted some fantastic advice. I have always wanted more information in the corporate end of jewelry. Mass production is a different world, but it all starts the same way with a concept or idea. I would love to make a living this way someday! I am a graphic designer and could use those skills to render some 3d drawings.
A long time ago, I used goache in my illustration classes. I haven’t used it in years, but I loved the quick-drying opaque paint.
I may also hit up my husband’s expertise in CAD drawing to make some jewelry designs come alive. Thanks again for the inspiration!
glad to have helped out. best of luck.anne
by: Patricia C Vener
As a self-taught artist creating one of a kind pieces this advice is meaningless for me. Are you saying one of a kind work can’t make it into the corporate market?
by: Michelle Buettner
Thanks so much for sharing this valuable information with all of us. You never cease to amaze me with your knowledge in this industry.
Whether doing one-of-a-kind pieces or complete collections/sets, I believe this information can be taken and molded to assist us in whatever manner we need.
I can clearly see someone who’s designing one of a kind pieces being able to incorporate this knowledge by allowing it to help them ‘document’ (if you will) their individual pieces. Being able to create an extensive portfolio complete with photos, along with drawings and renderings, of their designs for use when marketing to galleries, boutiques and even museum like venues, would be a tremendous asset and possibly lead to the edge they need to ‘cinch the deal’!
Being able to pick apart knowledge that is given to us and learning to apply what we need to our specific situations can be difficult at times, but I thank you for helping me to step out of my comfort zone and expand my senses and, even though I don’t do collections or don’t plan to work in the corporate capacity that you do, I’ve gleaned much knowledge to help me along my own path from the words you have written through out the years!
Michelle Buettner, Graduate Pearls (GIA)
Shel’s Jewelry Supplies www.ShelsJewelrySupplies.etsy.com
think about it from the company viewpoint-which is profitability
by: anne rush
if the one of a kind piece retails at a nice high retail then it would mean something. like in diamonds or better materials where retails are in the thousands. different story.
but for the fashion jewelry market and bridge markets out there , vendors will not take orders on one piece as it is not profitable FOR THEM to set up a sample maker for that. Also stores that have over 200 locations across the country would usually not order one of anything either.
i have yet to see one of a kind work in major retailers at mid tier prices. most students at FIT are looking to enter the industry that serves a larger audience, hence the article is written in reference to the topic that was the forum’s focus. i hope that clarifies it some more for you.
by: anne rush
You’re the kind of person who takes what information inspires you and makes it your own. That’s why you are so successful. thanks much. and hope you have a great new year!
Ah, I see.
by: Patricia C Vener
I don’t use diamonds. My work (when I’m not painting) uses the medium of beadweaving. It is both labor intensive and expensive for the most part. In fact, I am working on a piece that will retail well over a thousand dollars. My middle range pieces are around a couple hundred dollars. My work is art, but art that is worn though it can be displayed.
I think, however, that you are not talking about marketing individual works of jewelry art to corporate buyers so much as selling designs to corporate manufacturers. Unless, I am, again, mistaken. I suspect the difference is much like the difference between an illustrator and an artist even if both are indeed artists. Designers don’t necessarily make by their own hands each and every piece they design, though they might craft the prototype (much as an illustrator creates a maquette before sending it to the publisher).
Hm… This actually helps me see my true audience more clearly. My audience is individuals not entities.
by: nupur arora
thanks for all your inputs! Being a self taught jewelry designer, i sometime feel that the artist and the businessperson are in a constant strife, but reading your article was inspiring because it emphasizes a lot of foundational things which we sometimes overlook. Since i was trained at FIT to be a clothing designer, i do have a sound sense f technical specs etc, but i still feel that one has to constantly evolve and update their skills. please post some more ideas as to how independent designers can get their work to the mass market without being “knocked off” in the name of “inspiration” by greedy corporate buyers attending craft shows.
we would love to know if there are agencies which work with freelance designers and help sell their creations for mass production.
once again, thanks for your advice and for your lovely creations, i have seen some of them and the vivid description and execution that you use for your pieces is very inspiring!
what is ‘your’ mantra?
Thanks Ann for the good article. This is an important subject for me. I love your designs. I hope that you will write more articles for this newsletter.
Wow, great information. Thanks Anne.
love the vibe here
by: anne rush
hi all- glad this article sparked your thoughts. it gives me the right direction to continue writing about for all of you. i love to hear what all of you are doing in the industry at all levels.
i am taking note of your questions and will use them to write my next article. lots of great questions here. stay tuned. anne
selling jewelry designs to dept. stores
I will be submitting a test group (sketches only, no production) for consideration of a mjr. dept. store to include the designs in their jewelry collection (but branded under their name)They have requested that I provide them with a flat rate the development of the sketches/design. So should my flat rate to create/develop the group include the creative license/rights for the design itself (not just the hours spent on sketching)? And if so, is there some industry standard for assigning value/price for a design?
hi anonymous. sounds like a great opportunity. if the company has hired you as a freelance designer usually they own what you design for them up front, unless you have already discussed having the copyright on the designs as well.
you should create a contract of some kind which outlines the terms of your work agreement:
1. your flat rate for submission to them of a particular number of finished designs, including any preliminary sketches.
2. included in that rate is a specific number of changes to the designs selected for execution.
3. changes above and beyond the agreed number are and additional specified flate rate or hourly rate for your time
hope this helps, and good luck. anne