Artist Profile: Olivia James

Artist Olivia James  of KEZI shares her work and talks about building a successful jewelry collection.

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 Garnet Honey Locust Set by Olivia James of KEZI Jewelry. See her work at www.artsbusinessinstitute.org
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ABI:  How did you evolve as an artist and begin making jewelry?
OJ:  It began when I was in college and felt a pull to move from two-dimensional line drawings, to sculpture. I wanted to use my hands more and explored this new realm in a class taught by a wonderful teacher named Valerianna. I tried many mediums until one day, she introduced me to wire. As soon as I began working with it, the medium felt right.
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Simple Lapis Continuum by Olivia James of KEZI Jewelry. See the article at www.artsbusinessinstitute.org
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In every assignment after, I used wire and my passion for it grew. The next semester, I took an independent study with her to further explore the medium. At first, I made sculptures of abstract trees, flowers, and animals. My technique became more refined with each new piece. I remember Valerianna once saying my attention to detail was like that of a jeweler. I laughed.
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Leaf Ribbon set by jewelry artist Olivia James
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And then, one evening as I worked on the leg of a buffalo, I paused, held it up, and saw what looked like a necklace pendant. Inspired, I made four more pod-like shapes that tapered from the center, and created my first necklace.
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The next day I showed my work to Valerianna, who encouraged me to push further with it. For the remainder of the year, I made wire jewelry, a self-taught medium tailored for exactly me.
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Kallia Necklace by Olivia James of KEZI Jewelry. See her work at www.artsbusinessinstitute.org
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ABI:  What is your inspiration and how do you interpret it uniquely?
OJ:  My work is inspired by a search for universal beauty. When I first began designing, I was drawn to ancient jewelry, creating pieces that echoed these centuries-old designs. I’ve also always been inspired by nature, and saw as I walked through forests that shapes from the ancient world could be found in the leaves, the negative space between branches, and other forms nature grows.
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Apollo Necklace by jewelry artist Olivia James. See her collection at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org
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Nature, I learned, is the original source of beauty, and have since turned primarily to it as my source of inspiration.
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Making jewelry from wire, I am able to embrace the shapes I am drawn to by creating designs based around them. Gems and thinner wire combine to enhance forms I create. Each piece becomes a voice for the universal light within all of us, illustrated through beauty.
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Jewelry Artist Olivia James works on a piece of jewelry. See her portfolio at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org
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ABI:  What kind of response do you get from customers?
OJ:  The number one response is that they have never seen anything like it! They are drawn to the personal expressiveness of my designs, finding them versatile for any occasion.
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 Mariposa Earrings by jewelry artist Olivia James
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They also love how light they are. Because I am not using solid sheets of metal, the designs are substantial in form but not weight. My Mariposa Earrings are particularly striking to my customers because they appear to be big and heavy, yet move as lightly as the butterfly wings they are inspired by.
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