Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Donna Hiebert: Bold Simplicity and Harmony

Donna Hiebert

"Homage to Borobodur"
2006 NICHE Awards in Metal: Holloware category

I came across Donna Hiebert's work through the Orchid Gallery. I found her work absolutely stunning with its architectural qualities of contemporary lines and form. Here's what she has to say:

I have pondered the meaning of ancient and sacred architecture for a long time. It seems to me that a great deal of knowledge and understanding regarding humankind’s relation to the universe is inherent in these structures. Naturally this influence finds its way into my designs but I try not to approach it in a derivative manner. Saying that, some of my designs are named after specific architectural sites or buildings such as Borobudur, in Java, or an aqueduct in Rome. Seachange: embellishments for humanity, a collection cast in bronze, is more archetypal in nature and focuses on influences derived from sacred geometry – present in nature and many human made forms. This collection in turn led to Flotsam and Jetsam – a much looser, organic collection that is directly inspired by my life by the Atlantic Ocean.

I would describe my style as poetic conceptual minimalism!

Influences are many and after a while some of those influences become a part of me, morphed by my own sensibilities. Sometimes it’s quality of light, movement of water, or music, paintings, sculptures, buildings, or people on the bus. I have been traveling a fair amount in the last few years and I love to hang out in a city and try to catch its heartbeat (preferably while listening to my favorite tunes on my iPod).

I often don’t know what will inspire me – but I am drawn to places/events/things that assist in conjuring connections toward a reality where ideas and concepts materialize that gnaw away at my conscience until I make a sketch or just start working directly with the medium that seems appropriate.

The techniques I find most interesting are the ones that assist in achieving my vision. I will try anything – fabrication, construction, smithing, machining, or rapid prototyping. I have a soft spot for machining – staring at a spinning lathe every day for a month one summer induced an almost transcendental state! I have always felt that technique follows concept. However technique may lead to wonderful discoveries and it has always been very important to me to understand and master as best I can the processes I use to make my work.

For most of my life I made sculpture and exhibited in galleries. I went through a period of disillusionment coupled with a need to make money and I pursued work in sales and marketing for a few years. In late 2001 I had transferred to a sales position for a copy company and within a short time was abruptly fired. It was a wonderful event because it brought me up short and forced me to consider what I was doing with my time. I realized that in order to be satisfied with my day-to-day existence I needed to make things. As well, I really wished for this activity to provide a living. I had taken some undergrad courses in jewelry making and I thought I would explore this area. In 2002 I began in earnest and enrolled as a non-degree student in the jewelry department at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design – my alma mater. I worked intensely for two years absorbing everything I could and launched Donna Hiebert Design in late 2004.

With the economy and price of metal on every one's mind, how has this affected your business and this industry?

Obviously smaller companies are feeling the impact of high metal prices but I think the value of my work lies more in the design than the material. Labor is always a higher factor in my work – whatever material I use. I think the question all designer/makers who produce their work in North America should be asking is: how do I differentiate my work from the glut of commodities available to consumers? Design and innovation is where I believe we excel – the challenge is how each artist finds their market/audience.

What advice do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?

Take in as much as you can – listen, learn, explore, and consider an apprenticeship. There are many facets to this business, ask yourself what you want to wake up and be doing every morning. Start a blog. Mine is www.thinkermaker.com

How have you found it best to showcase and sell your work?

I am, really, still finding my way. I have formed many good relationships with retailers, and I am still actively pursuing that form of marketing. However, I believe my future lies in a combination of developing contacts via the internet through e commerce and blogging as well as selective trade shows, commercial and non-commercial exhibitions, and print/web based media exposure.

I have tremendous admiration and appreciation for the beauty and quality of Donna's work. To me, it embodies the best of classic contemporary design.

Thanks for stopping by and as a side note, this blog can now also be viewed through the Orchid Blog Network as well as an A Blog On Etsy Blogs.

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