I’m so excited to bring you this interview with Anne M. Fiala! We’ll be talking creativity, business and there pictures!
Introducing Anne M. Fiala, a long time metalsmith, recent MFA grad, former board member of the Chicago Metal Arts Guild and was also a key organizer for the fabulous Zoom Symposium at the University of Indiana in Blommington.
She recently uprooted herself from snowy Chicago and moved to sunny North Carolina. Q: So what are you up to these days?
Hmmm. Yes, uprooted and moved to sunny NC where I am a jewelry maker and teach art and metals. I teach arts and crafts to kids at UrbanPromise – which is an inner city program that aims to develop children and youth into leaders determined to restore their communities.
Q: You have this amazing background in metal and yet you’re working in wood now! How did that happen?
Haha, I know! Well, it kind of happened in a roundabout way. After my first year of graduate school I was really frustrated in the studio. I had been spending a lot of time making super detailed and technical pieces, but wasn’t really satisfied with the outcomes. So, I started to study my creative habit.
In doing this I did 3 things; I began to question, I made one piece every day for a month, and I traveled to Netherlands to take a conceptual workshop.
During the month of “a piece a day” there was a huge storm in Bloomington and I started picking up fallen branches. The branches made their way onto my bench and into my jewelry. I found that I really enjoyed working with the branches for a variety of reasons; they took away some of my control over the outcome, they reminded me of my family who have been woodworkers through the ages, and they offered a nice contrast to my often meticulous metal work (both visually and physically).
The branches evolved into scrap wood, which evolved into high quality plywood. I have now become so interested in small scale woodworking that last summer I traveled to Haystack in Maine to take a workshop with Katie Hudnall, who makes all sorts of amazing small scale wood pieces.
Q: Your wood jewelry looks so light and easy to wear is it? The pieces are all so fun and colorful and fashionable, what was your inspiration for this line?
It is light and easy to wear! Though I love jewelry, I have weak ears and am awfully clumsy. I want to make things that I would and could wear!
My inspiration stems from a few sources, but mostly my family and my travels. I spent a lot of the last four years driving through the Midwest and admiring the weathered farmhouses and empty billboards. I see a lot of that inspiration in my necklaces.
My wooden dangles evolved from my love of the lobster buoys in Deer Isle, Maine, which are bright, colorful, and timeworn.
Elaine interjects – I’m attracted to those kinds of things too, and what I love is how you’ve taken that and make it so fresh and bright and timeworn at the same time!
I have a variety of flowered designs which stem from memories of my grandmother. My grandmother kept a beautiful garden full of every kind of flower – from irises to poppies, I think it’s where I got my love of flowers. Her daisies had actually been moved from house to house for generations.
Q: What was the most useful class that you took in undergrad or grad school that you’re really using now, in your business?
I would have to say the overall experience of grad school is what I am really using now.
During grad school I was involved with a few nonprofit organizations on top of teaching and my coursework. Pair that with a mostly independent curriculum I really learned how to balance working and making.
Grad school also gave me the opportunity to just make and study my creative habit. In doing so, I learned a lot about what makes me tick. Now I know how to get out of ruts, use inspiration, and where to start.
Q: What’s your “desert island” metalsmithing book? A favorite that you couldn’t live without?
It’s probably The Complete Metalsmith by Tim McCreight. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a chapter hidden in there somewhere called “Making Tools and Jewelry on a Desert Island”.
I also really like Silversmithing by Rupert Finegold. But more often than not, if I’m looking for a solution these days I’m searching the web on my phone. Outside of metalsmithing I really enjoyed The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Great reads that are not strictly jewelry or business related but really relate to our practice.
Q: I see that you’re selling on Etsy, another online platform and to some retail stores. How did you choose that other platform? Since this is a jewelry – business blog, we’d love to hear about your business goals, what’s your ideal that you’re going for? Mostly wholesale? Mostly retail? Do you do in person shows?
I chose the other platform, Square Market, out of convenience for my shoppers. Because I do in person shows, I wanted a card reader that allowed checkout to be quick, easy, and trusted. I chose Square because so many retailers are using it – from food trucks to retail stores – that most people have Square accounts and are familiar with the transaction process.
I was surprised to learn one of the perks of Square is Square Market – a free online marketplace similar to Etsy. Creating an online store was as simple as creating an inventory – you just have to take the extra step of adding descriptions and pictures!
The ideal that I am going for is simple – I want to be an artist.
To me that means earning a living from the combination of creating and selling my work and teaching my craft.
In selling my work I wouldn’t mind a bit of everything! It’s nice having my work in shops and galleries, it allows people to “discover” my work and experience it in person.
Having an online store has allowed me to reach new audiences, too, and has given me the opportunity to make some custom work. At the end of the day I don’t have dreams of being a multimillionaire and I don’t want my business to get so big that I am removed from the making process.
I think a lot of jewelry makers like Megan Auman and Amy Tavern have been successful in that. They create really beautiful jewelry that jewelry makers and everyday people alike love.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to others just starting out in the jewelry business?
“Action is best; start anywhere” and “Be rooted”.
There is so much information out there of how to run your business and what to do to be successful – it seems like the best advice is to know your brand (i.e. YOU) and take action.
The things that work really well for other people, may not work for you or not seem genuine coming from you. The same goes for your work.
Staying true to yourself and your roots will help keep your work authentic, help you naturally progress to the next step, and help you find answers to your questions.
Such great advice, thanks Anne!
Follow Anne Fiala Jewelry Objects on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annefialajewelry where she shares her process and show announcements.
Visit her etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnneFialaJewelry
Visit her Square Market shop here: https://squareup.com/market/anne-fiala
I love the look of the Square Market shop!