Meet the Maker – Jaesun Won

EA finds itself in South Korea, at the studio of Jaesun Won for the next interview in our ‘Meet the Maker’ series. Jaesun gives us an insight into how today’s contemporary studio jeweller often finds themselves juggling a myriad of jobs and tasks whilst exhibiting globally. In Jaesun’s case she works as a teacher/lecturer at University, whilst maintaining a thriving studio. We look at what inspires her and what it was that brought her to the decision to be a designer-maker. Enjoy the read…

EA: Of all the arts and crafts disciplines, why did you choose the making of Jewellery to be your profession.

JW: I have enjoyed making things by hand since I was little, so I always had a vague attraction to craft. Among the many options, I considered jewelry to be incredibly fascinating. In particular because it can be said to be a form of art that is closest to human beings and also something that can only be perfected when worn by a person.

EA: Why did you decide to become a designer-maker?

JW: It’s because I have my happiest moments when a work that I have designed is finally realized. This journey from inspiration to completion, from raw materials to finished piece, knowing it is my hands that have created it, all contribute to heightened sense of joy when it is finished.

EA: You teach at University; how do you balance your time between making your own work and teaching commitments?

JW: I give lectures twice a week and usually work at my studio on the other days. Although I’m busy, having discussions with my students or teaching workshops are fun for me. So it’s not especially difficult, but when I have an exhibition to prepare for, I spend more time creating work during university vacation.

EA: What do you think is the strongest influence or inspiration on your work?

JW: My biggest influence comes from my travels. Visiting a place that I am not familiar with and experiencing diverse cultures always feeds me with fresh inspiration.

EA: What techniques do you employ to make your pieces? Is there one technique that is a favourite?

JW: I personally cut, sand, and solder all of the jewelry in my studio from design to finish. The most important technique is the process of adding color to the metal. Combining the two materials of metal and thread, which are of contrasting properties, is a critical step. It consists of hand-wrapping the metal surface with thread, thus adding color to create harmony of color as well as balancing power and malleability within the restrained precise lines.

EA: What is a typical day like for you?

JW: Usually, I spend the day in my studio where I create designs or pieces and prepare for fairs or exhibits in Korea or abroad. In 2017 I participated in Révélations Biennale which was held in the Grand Palas in Paris, France, and also Collect 2017, held at the Saatchi Gallery in London, UK. At present, I’m preparing for LOOT2019 to be exhibited at the MAD Museum in Manhattan, NY in April next year.

EA: What is the best and worst thing about your job?

JW: There are pros and cons to all kinds of work, but the best thing for me is being able to communicate with collectors and/or people who love the craft because of my jewelry. There isn’t anything too negative, but it’s very hectic to have to handle all the work of not only creating, but also the entire process of preparing for shows and the paperwork etc.

EA: What is the most challenging aspect of starting a business?

JW: Sometimes I encounter difficulties when going through the process of creating work, preparing for shows, and getting the paperwork done. Nonetheless, if it is for a new challenge I find I enjoy it.

EA: Who do you think your work appeals to the most?

JW: My work appeals to people from all different ages and backgrounds, especially those who like detailed and beautifully colored jewelry.

EA: What is your favourite piece of jewellery to make?

JW: I love making necklaces. It’s because people wear necklaces in subtly different ways and they enhance human beauty the most.

EA: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

JW: Just like now – I will be actively working as a jewelry artist and continuing to show my work to more and more people.

EA: Do you ever suffer from a creative block and what do you do to overcome it?

JW: Of course. I feel the torment of creativity from time to time, but during those times I’ll look at something I wrote or sketched while traveling or in my daily life and take a break. Then, soon I’ll be inspired again.

Five Fun Facts about ………

  1. What is your ‘theme’ song: Jason Mraz ‘Life is Wonderful’
  2. Your favourite comfort food: My favourite food is avocado chilli sandwiches.
  3. Ocean or Forest: Forest – Forests change with the four seasons, and I find the variation inspirational.
  4. Favourite tool in your studio: Torch and flex shaft
  5. Describe yourself in five words: Energetic, creative, delicate, adventurous and open-minded