Jewelry artist Rachel Atherley presents her line and talks about her experience of starting a business.
ABI: You had an incredible opportunity to work with high-end jewelry designer Annette Ferdinandsen. What did you learn from her?
RA: I learned so much as an assistant to many artists but my favorite has been Annette Ferdinandsen! Her work ethic and business sense is a great inspiration to me. She taught me how to create a working production line that allows for your own artistic creativity to shine through while still competing in today’s design market.
Without her guidance I wouldn’t have been able to be where I am today. I truly believe working one-on-one with an established artist is where the real life training is achieved.
ABI: When you started selling your own jewelry in 2010, what was the response?
RA: I started advertising my collection in the fall of 2010. Unfortunately my timing was a bit off as the recession was in full swing, but I had no other choice. I had already dedicated 10 years to my metalsmithing career and 2 years to creating a cohesive jewelry collection before I even launched my line. The beginning wasn’t easy, but every time I would weigh the options of a stable desk job versus a dynamic life of a studio artist there was always one resounding answer. Jewelry all the way! And with that it all paid off, I have a fantastic group of galleries that grows every year who support my collection completely.
ABI: What advice would you give to beginning artists?
RA: If you are just beginning your artistic career I would tell you first and foremost believe in yourself and don’t be discouraged. If you never make a mistake you will never achieve something new. Life and art are about taking risks and hoping you don’t fall flat on your face. But if in the case you do, get right back up and use your lesson as fuel for your fire.
Ask questions! Most artists know how difficult it is to establish themselves so pick their brain and ask them where they see your work fitting in and how they got where they did. You will be surprised how hard some of your favorite artists and craftsmen had to work to get where they are today.
If you don’t get selected for a particular show or event, call and ask what you could change in order to get in. If anything you are establishing contact with a potential client, curator, buyer or event manager.
ABI: Tell us about some of your bestselling designs.
RA: My collection is quite large. It is a direct interpretation of my personality. I can’t help but take Mother Nature’s fickle behavior and immortalize it in metal. My snake skin collection is definitely my best seller. I was inspired by the shell of a shed snake skin to create a hand cut and forged mesh-like framework. From there I was able to create earrings, rings and bracelets of all sizes.
I enjoy distilling nature down to its most simplistic measure and showcasing the beauty of its essence. Among the top selling items are my leopard basket hoop earrings which are a throwback to a 1950’s shape. Along with that are my gazelle horn earrings and my Zelda earrings, which are named after my brother-in-law’s parrot and are my interpretation of her tail hanging through her swing. I love movement, shape, pattern and design and can’t help incorporating that in the oldest art known to man, jewelry and body adornment.