Jewelry design is such an amazing trade and one full of rewards. But it also causes us to ask ourselves questions such as: How do I stay inspired? What can I do to feed my creativity? How do other artists manage their time and creative energy?
The internet does a fantastic job of connecting us to the world and giving us access to millions of free resources. My personal favorite is to listen to other creative workers talk about their work, their life stories and describe what inspires and why it’s important to stay inspired.
One of the best websites for free, inspirational lectures (or talks), is at the TED website. TED (Technology Education Design) celebrates people and their accomplishments in a variety of ways.
10 TED Talks Every Jewelry Designer Should Watch
Some talks are more of a performance, some are very basic and straightforward and some are completely hilarious. If you want to try TED, here are 10 talks to get you started.
1. Isaac Mizrahi: Fashion and Creativity
I am starting with my personal favorite. This talk is so wonderful, thanks to Mizrahi’s boundless energy, his refusal to work on only one project at once and all the regions of the world that inspire him. He even goes into his strange hobby of following people on the street if they have on something that catches his eye.
The talk is fast-paced, full of beautiful images and a reminder of what a joy it can be to simply feel inspired.
2. Harish Manwani: Profit Is Not Always the Point
Manwani is the COO of a large group called Unilever, and yet in this talk, he focuses on his small soap-selling project in India. While he is quick to talk about the importance of capitalism and doing business that way, he discusses his thoughts about how the love of your job can help you do great things.
He put his focus in this talk on empowering the women of India through his business. He found that it helped him not only to be more successful, but it gave him a deeper sense of inner satisfaction and purpose.
3. Paola Antonelli: Treat Design as Art
Antonelli starts her talk by explaining that she connects more profoundly with objects than she does with people, and this is why she’s devoted her life to taking another look at the things around her. She loves to delve into the design of gas masks, traffic dividers and handbags, just as much as she loves fabrics and furniture.
Antonelli’s talk will encourage designers and consumers to take all types of design seriously, not just the art house, nuevo chic designs we see during Fashion Week. It’s a great talk because her passion for the subject is immediately apparent.
4. Young-ha Kim: Be an Artist Right Now!
Be forewarned: this talk is not in English; it’s in Kim’s native Korean and uses close captioning. However, his love of creating comes through clearly.
He begins his talk by going over all the reasons we tell ourselves that we can’t be artists and then counters them by breaking down why we absolutely should be artists. He looks back on his own childhood and how he was punished for thinking differently. He encourages the listener, when seeing children play, to remember that the creative process should be energizing and engaging.
Don’t like close captioning? You can click on the Interactive Transcript and read it instead.
5. Miwa Matreyek: Glorious Visions in Animation and Performance
Matreyek takes a completely different approach to her talk – she never says a word. Instead, she uses a blank screen as a canvas. She projects the story of her life and from where she gets her inspiration as a series of images that are silhouettes.
Her real hands interact with images of library books and bowls of cereal flashing across the screen. Later, she merges herself into the images and becomes part of the show.
6. Nathalie Miebach: Art Made from Storms
Miebach is a very succinct speaker and sculptress. She’ll remind you of that math teacher you had in high school who lived and breathed numbers. She’s got a unique style to her sculptures and an odd approach to them. She collects data about the weather and turns it into musical scores, as well as 3D pieces of art.
Miebach’s talk is worth watching because it’s a reminder that perception is everything. If we look at weather as a source of inspiration, we might end up with a truly beautiful piece. If math is just another element of art, maybe we can use it to sculpt.
7. Brett Detmer: Old Books Reborn as Art
Detmer is a soft-spoken book artist, or a sculptor who carves books to make them into strange and thought-provoking sculptures. His work has gotten a lot of criticism simply because he chooses to essentially destroy a book, but in this talk he makes a passionate and logical defense of doing so.
The talk includes lots of images of his weird and wonderful sculptures, but another reason you should listen to it see it is because the artist himself is so brave and unapologetic. He never doubts himself for a moment, not even as he takes a knife to the pages of encyclopedias or books about the Renaissance.
His refusal to apologize is what’s truly inspiring, and I hope it will spur you on with your work as it has with mine.
8. William Wigan: Hold Your Breath for Micro-Sculpture
Wigan’s talk is a great one; he’s comfortable onstage, takes his time, gets personal and delves into the topic he can’t get enough of: art on an extremely small scale. Starting from the day he made apartments for his ants to his troubles at school, Wigan walks us through the amazing world and unique challenges of working on the very, very small scale.
The title of the talk comes from a piece he did on the head of a pin that was so fine and delicate he had to hold his breath so as not to accidentally inhale anything. He loves what he does with all his heart and soul, and you’ll love him by the time you get to the end of this weird and lovely presentation.
9. Arvind Gupta: Turning Trash into Toys for Learning
I don’t think I can name a talk that’s inspired me more than this one. Gupta left a fantastic opportunity to engineer trucks for a chance to live in a small, Indian village and take a closer look at some of the leftover materials available in the markets and on the streets. Before long, he was making small, educational toys out of garbage. Gupta’s fast-paced demonstrations of his toys create forehead slapping moments where suddenly complex concepts are so simplified we can’t believe we never thought of it before.
What’s more, he teaches anyone who wants to learn how to make these amazing toys from a free website. He reminds us that inspiration and creation are all part of everyday life, which makes this a beautiful and memorable TED talk.
10. Stuart Brown: Play Is More than Fun
Are you taking the time to play in your everyday life? According to Brown, you may be losing opportunities for exploration and evolution within yourself. By starting the talk with a series of photos of a wild husky playing in the snow with a polar bear, he explains how play is our deepest driving source. He then goes into what can happen to a society that discourages aimless fun.
These are only a few of the TED speakers who inspire me as a jewelry designer. Anytime I get in a fresh delivery of wholesale gemstone beads and go to my workbench, watch one of these so that I can get started with a head full of ideas. Watch these and find your own to push yourself to new heights as an artist.