Friday, January 30, 2009

Featured Artisan - Sarah Hicks

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Sarah Hicks, I live in Birmingham and I’ve been a jewelry artisan for about 8 years now. I went to art school at the U of M in Ann Arbor where I studied Graphic Design. In the mid to late 90’s, I traveled a lot doing art fairs with my paintings, got burned out on the art fair circuit and by 2000 decided to wholesale my jewelry designs instead. Art has always been a big part of my life and I am very fortunate to have had parents that encouraged that part of me while growing up. I have such respect for artists of all types- musicians, visual artists, really anyone who lives creatively, not to mention those who support artists too! I am so thankful to be able to make and sell my work to people who appreciate handmade items.

What first made you want to become a jewelry designer?
I always knew that I wanted to do something creative, mainly working with my hands- crafting something. It wasn’t until my final semester of college that I took my first metals class and found that I really enjoyed it. I didn’t get back to working in metals until years later after taking a trip to Santa Fe and being wowed by all the glorious turquoise jewelry in the wonderful shops and galleries there. Having been a big fan of turquoise and Native American jewelry since I was a kid, I was instantly drawn to what I saw and experienced on that first trip to New Mexico in 2000. It really just clicked for me then and there, that making jewelry was what I needed to do. I started out using faceted semi-precious stones and doing a lot of beadwork and wire-wrapping. I’ve stuck with that mostly but every now and then I like to do some metalwork and stone-setting.

Describe your creative process.
The best thing for me to do is just to sit myself down and start making stuff even when I don’t feel like it and then I get into a zone and I don’t want to stop. I usually work while listening to my favorite music or NPR if it isn’t too serious (Fresh Air, Diane Rehm, This American Life). Sometimes I’ll act on an image of a piece that just pops into my head, usually first thing in the morning while I’m still half asleep. But more often than not, I look for inspiration on my messy worktable of my studio where I have thousands of beads spread out and certain random color combinations will jump out at me. It seems that the more jewelry I make, the more creative I get. Often when I’m in a non-productive funk I’ll to go to an art museum or a few galleries to get the creative juices flowing again.

Where do you draw inspiration for your work from?
I get inspired by color mostly. I may see some color combinations out in the world whether on fabric, in a painting or in nature which will inspire me to mix colors I normally wouldn’t with varied results. I also like to peruse the eye candy magazines at Borders- I actually get a lot of ideas there too. Other jewelry artists inspire me to do better, push myself and to try new things. I see some incredible new pieces out there all the time and am amazed at the talent I come across.