How did I end up a jewelry artist in this mysterious thing called life? Like many creative people, I've had a lot of different jobs and only one would have been considered a career (I did research and report writing for an environmental policy nonprofit. I was good at it, but it didn't last after I moved back to Portland from Washington, DC.) So lacking a professional direction at the age of 31, I went to art school for painting. I know what you are thinking, "Not a great path to a 'real' job", Emily. True. I also have to admit that in some ways getting a BFA crushed a crucial part of my creative soul. There was so much emphasis on MEANING. And it had to be SERIOUS MEANING. It was a total dis to call somebody's work "decorative". There was A LOT of stinky post modernism hanging around. I recognized it as mostly bull#$@%, but I still get too far into my own head and bogged down in what my paintings MEAN. So mostly I don't paint anymore. I don't regret the art school experience- there is a lot I really loved about it, not the least of which was spending my days around people whose minds work in a similar way as mine. The gift of being in an environment that valued my skills and interests was a privilege, and I am glad I went. If nothing else, I learned a lot about Adobe Creative Suites which has served me well professionally speaking. Crucially, I also learned that I enjoy process almost as much as the finished product, and discovered meditative joy in detail work.
Luckily for me, it turns out most people want decorative art and objects in their lives that aren't a social commentary about nuclear waste or economic oppression. For me, creating jewelry is a way to make things with my hands and appreciate texture, form, color and design without having to worry about what it all means in the cosmic sense. The meaning largely comes from whomever ends up wearing it- they get to decide what it means (wait, that sounds suspiciously post modern). I LOVE that. Jewelry is far from meaningless, but it isn't up to me where that meaning comes from. My job is to think of a piece or be inspired by a particular gemstone, and then make the piece to the best of my abilities.
Long story short: life is circuitous and you never know where you may end up, but when you get to a good spot, the right spot, you know it from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.