Now that I am no longer studying, I am often asked the question “What do you do?” For what seems to be a perfectly normal and insignificant question that should have a fairly straight-forward answer, I find myself feeling like I am faced with a predicament. One in which I am forced to choose an identity that does not fully live up to the reality of what I actually “do”.
If I tell someone I am a jeweller, I feel like I am being instantly associated in their mind to a commercial jewellery-store environment one would find in a shopping mall. To some degree I am sure it is a feasible association, but nonetheless, one which I find uncomfortable. Is this discomfort the need for people to know that I don’t fit into that ‘box’ or is it the desire for people to have an understanding of just how much is involved in what I make and why I make it? Either way, simple ‘jeweller’ doesn’t feel right.
If I say I am a jewellery designer I get asked if I just design. If I say I make jewellery, I get a knowing look and nod, and “oh you make all that beaded stuff.”
If I tell people I am a contemporary jeweller (a term that seems to be only understood by those within its field) they inevitably ask what type of jewellery that is, for which I find myself having to try and put together a definition of which I am not entirely sure myself. “It’s a bridge between costume/fashion jewellery and commercial jewellery,” I once said. “It’s jewellery with a contemporary design approach that is worn more as fashion jewellery, but made out of precious materials,” was another one… Why is it so difficult to explain, and more importantly why does it need to be explained?