Yesterday I read a blog by the superbly talented, and lovely, Laura Bracken (you will have seen her work, especially if you’re a Vampire Diaries fan!). Anyway, she was talking about our identity and what we call ourselves as “people who make jewellery” and it got me really thinking, what do I say when people ask me what I do?
I’m lots of things:
- Jewellery maker
- Jewellery designer
- Jewellery artist
Let’s have a little look at these names. If I refer to myself as a “jewellery maker” then it sounds unprofessional. I want to be taken seriously as a designer….
But if I say “designer,” does that mean I’m aiming to be the next Cartier or Tiffany? No. Not at all. “Designer” sounds like money, and while I’m certainly not opposed to making money from what I do, it still doesn’t really fit.
“Artist” sounds great but then do people get confused? Do they automatically think I’m trying to be the next Van Gogh or Da Vinci? I hope not. Problem is, the first thing that some people think when you say “Oh, I’m an artist” is either that you’re pretentious, broke and starving, or a painter….or all three. I’m none of those things. Yet for some reason, replying to their doubt with, “I make gorgeous wire woven jewellery…and it is art and beautiful!” just sounds like I’m throwing a tantrum.
So how about adding the word “jewellery” into the title and saying “I’m a jewellery artist.” I’m still envisioning looks of confusion on people’s faces before I just mumble something about “go have a look at my site” and shove a business card in their face, because by now my social anxiety is kicking in and I’m looking for an exit. Ugh.
“Jeweler” makes me think of high-end gold and diamond pieces….a LONG way from copper wire and gemstone cabochons. So no. That doesn’t fit, either. Yet the definition of the word is in fact a person or company that makes or sells jewels or jewellery. So, am I a jeweler?
The word “crafts-person” is one that Laura brought up on her blog and to be honest I’ve never really thought about it in terms of what I do. My brain just automatically goes to “I make wire bend to my will” rather than “I’m a crafts-person.” I mean, it fits. The definition of the word is, in fact, a person who is skilled at making things by hand. I certainly do make things by hand and I’m getting there with the “skilled” part, but again I just can’t seem to get it to roll off the tongue like it should. There’d still be lots of explanation that would have to go with it, right? I mean “I’m a crafts-person” could mean anything. I could be a boat builder, for all the person knows.
I’m no clearer on this than when I sat down to write this blog, but one thing is clear. I need to start practicing what I’m going to say the next time someone says “What do you do?”