Karen Landis is planning to make a name for herself in the world of jewelry, despite the trying times. Her gorgeous wire-wrapped gemstones and 3-in-1 necklaces offer stunning, timeless, and affordable options for ladies who still want to look and feel special even without a lot of cash to spare. Her dive into retail may have been more than she imagined, but one thing is for sure: Seeing people enjoying her jewelry makes it all worth it.
Creative Loafing: What got you started in jewelry design?
Karen Landis: I was on a corporate management career track working 60-70 hours a week. I realized that I didn't have the personality for it. I wanted to make jewelry. Last August, I accepted a position that was a step down and a cut in pay because it allowed me to work from home. Working from home meant I no longer had to spend time commuting or attending business functions. That gave me the time to focus on jewelry. This year, I've opened two stores online (http://karenlandis.etsy.com and http://karenlandis.artfire.com), started a jewelry blog and began using Twitter. I'm also interested in selling my jewelry at art fairs and doing trunk shows at boutiques. You can't do everything overnight so I'm taking a stepped approach. For instance, I recently purchased a used, high-end artist's booth on Ebay. I wasn't expecting to make that investment this year. I knew I needed it eventually but the price was right (even though I had to drive to Ohio to pick it up). Sometimes, things just fall in your lap. Now I can check that off my list.
Where do you see yourself in the world of jewelry artists?
Locally, I view myself as an active participant who would like to be even more immersed. I've joined three jewelry related groups since I moved to Charlotte. I belong to the Charlotte Beadaholics, the Charlotte Area Jewelry Artists, and the Hornet's Nest Crafters Etsy Street Team. While each group has a different focus, they are all filled with talented, inspiring, generous artists interested in building a community. Since I work from home, I had to force myself to get out and connect with other artists. Charlotte has so many art and craft opportunities. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface and look forward to exploring more.
What are your goals in your work?
My style is evolving. I've tried a lot of wire techniques and am experimenting further. I have more ideas than time so I end up sketching them or writing them down. I'm drawn to asymmetrical designs and enjoy making pieces that can be worn in multiple ways. For instance, my 3-in-1 necklaces are designed to be worn three different ways. I also have adjustable necklaces that you can change the look of depending on how you loop them. And I'm working on a new design that is made in three pieces. You can combine the pieces to wear them separately or together to create distinct looks. I also pay attention to quality and detail. That's very important to me. I want my pieces to last.
What are some other things you explore, creatively or not?
I'm still interested in painting. I recently purchased oils and still have my watercolors. Right now, jewelry is taking up all my time. I hope to squeeze in time to do some painting later this summer. I'm a complete sucker for dogs. I LOVE them. I have a little mutt named Jackson. He's a Shih Tzu/Cairn Terrier mix with a big personality. My neighbor pointed me to the Davie Dog Park here in Charlotte. I've met so many wonderful people there and I'm convinced it's Jackson's favorite place on earth.
What are your favorite mediums/methods?
My mediums of choice are sterling silver and gemstones. I love the diversity within gemstones (no two are exactly alike) and the look of them with silver. I'm getting ready to launch a monthly gemstone series on my blog. I'm selecting a different gemstone each month and writing about its origins, meaning, history, use and quirks. I do mostly wire wrapping and am getting in to wire weaving. I also have some designs sketched that will incorporate pierced sterling silver focal links. I've experimented with gold a little but prefer sterling. I'm most concerned with the spirit of the piece. I try to keep it interesting and beautiful while maintaining a level of quality. If I wouldn't wear it, you won't see it.