Erin Proctor Herb’s minimalist jewelry is just right for today. She shares her portfolio and tips for other artists.
ABI: How did your background translate into the jewelry collections you create today?
EPH: I come from a family of architects with the familiar mantra of “Less is More”. It took me years to understand what this meant. It was through practicing interior design for architectural firms including HOK, SOM & Gensler and teaching architecture at the University of Tennessee to truly realize the difficulty of creating an “Honest Design”. A design where superfluous ornamentation is left out and only a minimal form remains. I see this as true beauty and what I desire to create with my jewelry forms.
ABI: What is your approach to design?
EPH: My approach to designing jewelry is similar to my approach to designing interior spaces. I begin with the fundamentals of design: Programming, Schematic Design, Design Development, and Construction Documents.
Programming is the best part of the design process. This is the moment the dream is born and anything is possible. I define a vision statement, collect images, record my thoughts & feelings and organize all this creative energy. I continue with Schematic Design where I sketch out ideas and then translate what is on paper into primitive 3-D forms. These forms evolve into experimental models. Next, Design Development is where refinement occurs. This part of the process takes the longest, but ultimately is the most important. I examine the overall form, work out the details, connect elements and adjust balance. Lastly, I build the final design.
ABI: What is your best advice for artists starting out who want to design a body of work?
EPH: Have a ritual when you create, be consistent, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Personally, I like to set aside a small block of time in the morning and sometimes I can only spare an hour. I start with a cup of hot green tea, turn off my phone and queue up my favorite playlist (the one that gets my mind into a positive & energized mindset). I remind myself this is the most important thing I need to do at this moment and I commit to being present.
I give myself permission to stop worrying about the countless items on my to-do-list. I set a timer for an hour and then its go time! I am here, at peace, focused, excited, and ready to start designing something new. I create, experiment, fail, try again, explore other options, but most of all, I am going through the design process.
Some of my most powerful pieces were created during experimental sessions where the goal was to get back in touch with the joy of making and not focus on the end result. It takes time to create and sometimes we forget this. I encourage everyone to just start.