I was recently feeling some artistic growing pains, and feeling a little overwhelmed by the unfavorable free time:inspiration ratio in my life (too many ideas, not enough time). Jewelry designing seems to have awoken some latent ADHD in me, and focusing enough to actually create something had seemed beyond me for some weeks. So I decided to pick the brain of one of my favorite designers, Lorelei Eurto—she is constantly offering up new jewelry pieces on a pretty regular basis, they are all very unique and each obviously involve a lot of contemplation, and she also works a full time job. The first I aspired to, and the second two I felt we had in common, so I thought some input from her would probably be pretty relevant to my dilemma. She was kind enough to respond to my questions, and her answers were really helpful, mainly in sort of giving myself permission to let up on myself a little. With her permission, I’ve shared her insights below (my questions are in italics) into her own creative process, along with photos of some of her recent pieces. (To see more visit her Etsy shop, or her new Artfire shop; for information on the artists who make the art beads she uses, visit her blog). Hope you find it helpful too (especially those of you with the keeper day job and the jewelry gig on the side)!
What is your creative process? Do you plan somehow, what you create? Do you have production goals? (Like make X bracelets, or make X items using X beads you just got)? Or is it totally organic?
There is no science behind my motivation. You say you've been feeling really overwhelmed with too many ideas and not enough time to put them out there. What's the rush? I have the same issues. There are days when I cannot keep up with my fingers and I bead my heart out for hours on end and still don't complete everything I set out to do. But I don't put any pressure on myself ... I don't have a quota where I want to make so many bracelets, so many necklaces. 95% of the time, I sit down in my studio and I have no idea what I'll come up with.
This past year I have really gotten my name out there and have promoted myself in publications. But I have never been in this to make a ton of money. Beading is like therapy for me. It's my one creative outlet that helps me relax at the end of a long day. And if I can make something that will sell quickly so that I can buy more beads to make something else, then my goal has been reached. I have always just wanted to keep beading.
Do you complete a design in your head/on paper first, and then put it together? Or do the beads just talk to you?
A lot of my work revolves around art beads. Handmade beads and components make it easy to design around. I don't make a whole lot of jewelry that doesn't incorporate some sort of art bead in it. I have a very large collection of art beads. I hoard them. I think when I buy certain things from people, their hope is that I create something around their beads right away. But sometimes I sit on them for a while before creating anything because the ideas have to build up over time.
It's rare that I come up with an idea ahead of time. This happens occasionally but more with my art jewelry type of pieces. Like the necklace I did with the Alice in Wonderland theme. That piece happened slowly.
Do you work 40 hours/week? How do you balance studio time/time with your husband/other personal time?
I work 40 hours a week at the Museum. I work on jewelry in the evenings after dinner for a few hours. We go to bed fairly early so I'd say I don't bead past 9:30 pm generally. Sometimes I like to have stuff to list in my Etsy shop every day. If I take an evening off, sometimes I whip something up in the morning before I go to work. I get up at 6:00 am, and this is when a lot of business stuff happens. Packaging orders. Printing labels. Taking pictures of jewelry made the night before. Editing photos. Listing pieces on Etsy. Putting pics on Flickr and Facebook. I'm out the door to work by 8:45 am.
I do spend time with my husband during the week, when I take evenings off from beading. And on the weekends. I do create a lot on the weekends but Joe usually works on the weekends too so that gives me a lot of time during the day to get stuff made. We don't have a lot of plans generally.
My technique toolbox is pretty petite still, and I'm relatively new to the creative process, but I'm afraid I'm going to burn out from lack of direction. Any words of wisdom?
I'd say my technique toolbox is also petite. I find that I don't have to do a whole lot of fancy beadwork and wire work for my jewelry to sell well. Once you get into a routine, and a niche with your designs, you'll create what sells best.
Do you ever suffer from a lack of focus, and how did you deal with it? Any organizational aides you've developed that help you bring to life what's in your head?
There have definitely been times when the creative process falters. Where I feel overwhelmed and can't focus. When this happens, I walk away for a while. It doesn't take long, away from the studio, to get inspired again. My advice for you is to not put so much pressure on yourself. Put pressure on yourself after you've quit your job and are creating jewelry for a living...I am lucky in that I've got my dream job, and my dream hobby all wrapped up in one. I have no intentions right now to do jewelry full-time. That would feel too much like work and I'm not into making my hobby feel like work. It's supposed to be fun and relaxing and it's nice because there is no pressure. So take advantage of the fact that you have another job that pays the bills and treat the jewelry thing like your hobby.
Don't worry so much about techniques. Find your niche and continue with the designs that sell well. Get comfortable with this and then if time permits, try something new.