Friday, December 12, 2014

Through Creative Eyes: Up & Coming - Alexandra Best

Kicking off the inaugural Through Creative Eyes post is the jewelry design student who's Instagram feed is what started it all - Alexandra Best!  So here is a little peek into the world of a budding jewelry designer that I think you are going to be hearing, and seeing, a lot from in the future...

Alex's designs are a study in contrasts.  Which, as I am sure you have figured out by now, is a fav of mine.
I love the rustic-ness of the mounting against the refined cut of the stones.

About Alex
Alexandra (Alex) Best is a 21-year-old student, from Surrey, England - just south of London.  Currently in her final year of study in 3-D design at Loughborough University. Alex says, "I've always been into creating but I think I've really found my calling in silver smithing and jewellery. I love the sea, sunshine and food."

Alex's love of nature is evident in the organic feel that her designs have.

Her Style
"I think that a lot of my style and inspiration has come from growing up in a small town near the countryside," says Alex. "I've always been attracted to the little details that can be found in the nature and [the] wildlife that surrounds us." 

One of the motifs that feature prominently in a lot of Alex's work is the bee.  And when you hear about what an integral part of Alex's day-to-day personal history they have been; it's easy to see why: 

"My mum keeps bees and they have become a big part of our lives.  This is why they feature in a lot of my work.  I believe that these details are so important and are usually overlooked. Most people are too busy rushing around to notice the little things.  Adding these miniature details and textures to my work is something I consider an important part of my style."

One of nature's enduring motifs in Alex's work - the Honey Bee.

And it is her attention to detail that drives Alex.  She readily admits that she is still learning.  But she "strive[s] to achieve high quality pieces, which [she] know[s] will last and have been made to the best of [her] ability."  

It is also this drive to create high quality pieces and the personal satisfaction that she takes which are helping her to continue developing her own personal style.  And when it comes to her style, she believe that it is the "lost wax casting process which helps [her] achieve the tiny details [that she] desires." 

What is it that Alex loves the most as she develops her own personal style?

"I love the organic, rustic and 'of the earth' feel to my work," she says.

What's more perfect about this ring - the stone or the earthy feel of the mounting?

The Jewelry Business
When it comes to starting your own jewelry business (or any business for that matter), it can be a bit scary and overwhelming.  Here are a few of Alex's thoughts on beginning that process as she gets closer and closer to graduation:

"The idea of setting up my own business does scare me, but it's something that important to me. I have the kind of personality where if I'm doing something new and independently (even if it's getting the train to somewhere new!); I want to know every tiny detail of what I'm getting myself into in order to mentally prepare and plan for every eventuality. This does mean that I do get stressed out when I feel like I don't know what I'm doing or that I have thrown myself in at the deep end.  This is something that worries me about setting up my own business.  But I know that I will attempt to learn everything I possibly can and be overly prepared before[hand]." 

I am in love with these rings by Alex Best!  They remind me of barnacles on a boat or the rocky shore.
The gemstones have an almost watery look against the roughness of the mountings.

Alex credits a series of lectures that she had last term with helping her to feel a bit more prepared for the rigors of starting your own business, "we...created a business plan, which helped us plan start up costs [as well as] the legal side of setting up businesses. This was so helpful!  I feel like it did really help us prepare for our futures.  I'm also looking to do a further courses for after university to help me improve my confidence in setting up my own business." 

"The idea of being fully responsible for my own business is also quite terrifying," Alex concedes.

As a new jewelry designer, Alex points out a fear that I think every creative mind shares, "that [she] will not have enough interest or people buying [her] work."  She has combated this fear by setting up her Instagram account (bestajewellery).  Using Instagram as a tool to determine if her work had a style that would garner a wide-spread interest.

Amazing!  The contrast between the shiny metal & the oxidized designs adds even more depth & interest.

"I was so pleased with the positive response I received that it has really improved my confidence and it's great to have feed back from people and other jewellery makers," Alex says.  "At the moment I still feel very basic and like a student.  I don't have a professional camera or lighting so I just use my phone and natural lighting [when shooting the photos for Instagram]."

Her Learning Process
Alex credits her study in 3-D Design for helping her to develop a diverse and creative style, "rather than a jewellery-centred course, it means that I've had the opportunity to experiment in other areas of design, including wood, plastics and ceramics.  I've found that I most enjoy working in metals.  I love the way you can polish up metal and make such gorgeous and personal pieces.  Loughborough University has an amazing and supportive range of workshops, tutors and technical staff.  On our course we are given a lot of freedom, which allows us to experiment in different areas and helps us to push ourselves." 

Alex's bench.

Another opportunity the really had an impact on Alex was the British Art Medal Society competition for students, which she entered last year.  Seeing her work displayed was "an amazing and memorable feeling [that] made [her] want to push [herself] to work harder and create a career" where she can continue to be proud of her achievements and creations.  She also credits her family, friends and faith for the support that has continued to bolster her confidence and helped her to pursue her goals.

Another component to Alex's learning process is the ability to self-experiment with her work.  She explains, "Another thing that I love about jewellery design is wearing my own work and receiving complements on it.  Being proud of myself, my work and the work I've put in is important to me.  Over the last year especially, I've gained a lot more confidence in myself and what I can do."

Another finished project.  Sigh...That blue color....!

And, of course, there is always external inspiration.  And in her part of the world, inspiration runs thick...

"Living close to London I have had access to a number of amazing museums and galleries as a source of inspiration.  One of the best exhibitions have been the Cheapside Hoard collection which was shown at the Barbican and the absolutely stunning jewellery collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum."

The Future
So what does the future hold for this budding jewelry designer?  According to Alex, "Although the idea of setting up my own business scares me; the idea of not continuing on with my dreams and goals scares me even more.  I know that I'm not made for another kind of job and [that] I need to continue being creative.  The idea of standing on my own two feet and taking full responsibility of my company is a personal goal. Being my own boss and having full creative freedom is something that I'm very excited [about].  I'm excited to be surrounded by a creative environment and people.  I have to say that I'm most excited about being driven to get up every morning and get stuck into a career I love."

A trillion cut peridot ring.

What do I think Alex's future holds?  I think you're going to be seeing a lot from this younger designer in the future as she continues to refine her style and push herself.  And personally, I can't wait to see her work available.  I will be first in line to get my hot little hands on one of her pieces....

Hey Alex!  Let me know when you open up an online store!

Hey Alex!  Does this come in white gold?!?!


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