Karen Yost, founder and artist behind Anomaly Jewelry took some time to answer questions about her super unique and eccentrically charming jewelry. Oddity collectors and fashionistas enjoy! Be sure and check out the slideshow to see more of Anomaly’s fierce goodies.
First things first, what can we expect from Anomaly Jewelry this summer?
This summer I will be finishing and putting up for sale a bunch of individual pieces that do not belong to any collection. I usually present my jewelry in a collection as a result of both the industry’s call for it and my own compulsive need to make every variation within one idea of which I can think. There are always stragglers that have no home and I want to finally complete and present them.
Can you talk about where the ideas for your latest designs like the new pig and deer ice cream necklace come from?
The pig and deer ice cream cone necklace came to me when I was sitting at my desk working on a regular soft serve ice cream cone necklace. Soft serve is an emblem of my childhood that I wanted to memorialize. Sitting beside the cone I was working on was a deer necklace I had already made. That’s when I thought of beheading the deer to use her as a scoop of ice cream itself. Often I find things so cute I want to eat them. It all made perfect sense to me so I turned the whole collection into animal ice creams.
The latest collection seems to have a sweet but edgy nostalgic feel to it; when you’re planning a collection does the theme come first or is it one piece that will start the story you’re wanting to tell?
I love how you described it! Those are all things that I love in life. I am totally sentimental, nostalgic, and kind of a romantic as well. I LOVE old and used things. Especially from the 1950’s in the U.S. and Japan. I am totally dark and morbid but frequently can’t seem to express those feelings without including a bit of life’s sweetness in it as well. In a way I feel like the darkness makes it even cuter and the cuteness magnifies the morbidity. I pretty much think that in life all good comes with bad and all bad comes with some good. This is literally reflected in all of my work.
How much time do you spend on research before you actually begin creating a collection?
It really depends on the collection. If I don’t know much about something, I might research for a couple of days. This was the case with my Pony Up collection, as I didn’t know too much about guns. For most of my collections, I am drawing from my own imagination, which takes time only in thought, not research. I pretty much start making things and the ideas grow and change in the making of the piece.
There’s also a strong surrealist/whimsical sense to your items, where does that inspiration come from?
Directly from life. It is very much the way I experience the world. I spent much of my youth taken aback by how strange the world is. I just highlight it in my jewelry. I also find humor in most things and I suppose that comes out naturally in my work as well.
How long does it take you from start to finish to create a piece? Let’s say one of the Zodiac Kids necklaces?
I make a mold from all my originals so the time spent making the first piece is very different from the time spent on making a piece from the mold. The original will take me a few hours a day for about a week. The reproduction takes about 3 hours to make.
Anomaly Jewelry launched in 2000; if you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice about the business what would it be?
I would tell myself that growth of the business will come naturally and not to stress out as much. Also, I have learned to just do the things I hate to do as soon as possible as procrastination only add to the pain. That’s already two pieces of advice. And I have more as there’s not really one outstanding piece of wisdom I have learned. It is more a compilation of a hundred different small things. Another biggie is to protect yourself with contracts and copyrights.
How has Anomaly evolved from its creation in 2000, and what has been one of your proudest moments in the twelve years you’ve been in business?
One of my proudest moments was when a visual artist I have adored for years contacted me to make her drawings into jewelry. It is a project that is still in the works so I won’t elaborate. I hadn’t a clue that she knew my work. What an honor. I have been excited about that one since she called 2 years ago.
On your website, it says Anomaly is a small business with one employee; can you talk about the challenges and rewards you encounter in this working environment?
When I started making jewelry, it was a private endeavor and I was doing it for the joy of the process and the cool jewelry I got to wear at the end of it all. I was trying to be a children’s book illustrator for years after I graduated college. It wasn’t going so well, so I started to sell the jewelry I was making. I had no problem selling my jewelry, so slowly I transitioned into full time jewelry making. Today I keep the business almost as small as when I started. I want to stay as close to the reason I began a business at all. That is, that I love making and wearing jewelry. I don’t want to make my job the running of a business. Being a boss doesn’t appeal to me at all. I would rather keep the business small, hand made, and personal. I love being accountable for everything that happens in my business. However, I know my limits, and I realize that having the help of others would be beneficial to the company. At a certain point, I will need others to make the business grow but I always want to stay small. My dream is to have about 4 or 5 other people working with me and have my only job be making new jewelry.
You started metalsmithing at age 12, how did that interest develop, and do you still have any of your earlier work from that time?
I learned how to metalsmith at a summer camp called Buck’s Rock in Connecticut. I spent my summers there from age 12 -16, and it was the best thing that happened to me socially and creatively. The camp trusts that kids can handle adult responsibilities and creative endeavors such as glassblowing, jewelry making, and oil painting to name only a few. I fell in love with making jewelry immediately and spent all my summers doing mostly that for the next 4 years. After college, I spent a semester at F.I.T’s jewelry making program. That is all of my formal training.
I do have all of the pieces I made at camp and F.I.T. I never throw any jewelry away.
Three works of fiction or art that have influenced you and why?
Nick Cave’s “And the Ass Saw the Angel” was a fabulous book and filled my head with so much imagery. I was painting a lot while reading that book as a result of the inspiration it gave me.
Renee French’s Edison Steelhead’s Lost Portfolio http://sites.google.com/site/reneefrench/edisonsteelhead’slostportfolio is absolute perfection. I love her imagination and her drawing style. It’s ethereal and gross in a way that is gorgeous.
Mark Ryden’s Snow Yak painting exhibit is amazing. It is beautiful and unnerving to look at. I love all of his artwork.
What does being brave mean to you?
Being frightened and still moving forward.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2012?
I’ll be doing a new collection over the next few months that should debut before Christmas. My husband and I are going to try to make another baby. And I would like to finally unpack the last of my boxes from our move last summer.
Where can my readers find your jewelry online?