Sunday, 22 January 2017

Bad Advice


Recently I was at a dinner party that included a local business man, who appears to be relatively successful. He is not someone who I would seek out for advice; however, he was ready to give it as he asked me about my jewellery. His wife refers to it as homemade. I take slight exception to this; although, I do make it in my home so technically I guess it is homemade. However, homemade suggests cookies and pickles more than artistic endeavour. 

I answered his question by describing where I "was" with it. The following advice was not what I expected. He suggested that I "copy" the designs of a very successful Canadian business, Hillberg & Berk. I was deeply offended. Don't get me wrong, the designs of Hillberg & Berk are beautiful and I think highly of the founder's designs as I do of other independent jewellery makers' designs. But his advice to copy the designs is close to blasphemous. It's like suggesting to a potter that he or she should use another potter's designs because that particular potter sells more pottery, or that a painter should copy a piece that has been done by another artist, or that someone should write another War and Peace because of its success. He obviously has no concept of the creative process or of the pride artisans take in their own designs or their own work.

Now if he had said to me, you should take a look at Hillberg & Berk's marketing strategies over the past ten years, I could accept that. There are steps, procedures, and even rituals that lead to success with good designs and if you so desire, you could follow those strategies and you will move toward marketing success. But he didn't; he told me to "copy" designs. Now I am not only offended. I am livid. Enough of that. 

The Creative Process
JoyD Creations
Pink Faux Oversized Pearls & Crackled Quartz with silver discs, Spring, 2011
Photo Source: JoyD Creations
My designs have come about from laying out my materials and component parts and then staring at them, leaving them, coming back to them, staring at them, and putting together pieces and parts. Sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. I look at historic jewellery, at what's happening on the trend scene, at classic designs by luxury brand houses and at thousands of photos online. For the most part, I create as I make and also as I take apart. I have created with new materials, with vintage parts and with broken odds and ends. Each piece is a pleasure because of the process and the parts.

Multiple strands of turquoise stones, silver chain, black cord and silver crosses, Winter, 2012-2013.
Photo Source: JoyD Creations
Of course, clients have brought in photographs of big name brands but never have they asked me to copy. They might say, " I like this pendant idea" or "I love these colours" or "I want something like this but without the . . . " and I collect the component parts and come up with a design that they either like or don't. Very often, most clients are pleased with what I have created and those who aren't don't have to buy the piece even though they originally commissioned me. Obviously I don't work in diamonds.

Turquoise and Silver, 2011.  Photo Source: JoyD Creations
Like any other artist or artisan, I am proud of my work, happy with most of my designs and very pleased when someone wants to buy it. I'll leave it at that.

Commissioned Piece in Jade, Rose Quartz and Chinese Coins created by JoyD.
Photo Source: JoyD Creations


  1. This is a HUGE NO THANKS! Artists like yourself and million of other like you are unique in that you design and create your own personal style, what you are feeling or what you want to express. To have someone tell you how you should but expressing yourself is a big NO NO. Maybe this fellows success come from others that can't think for themselves and follow along with his beliefs. Personally I try to avoid this type of person cuz they're nothing more than a used car salesman selling you a load of (something that's stinky)

    1. Exactly! You know, Brian, I don't think I would have even minded if he had made suggestions in a general way of what people like or what is popular and he could have even said "maybe you should try simpler styles or more extravagant styles or whatever". But he didn't do that, he used the word "copy". I still can't get over it. It's not likely that I will see him again; at least not planned. Come to think of it, that's where he started - he was a used car salesman. That is funny. Thanks, your reference put his comment into perspective.

  2. Relaxing in Kelowna23 January 2017 at 21:45

    Well my dear, you are an artist, the fellow is an ass. Enough said!!


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