Isabel's questions made me reflect on the role craftsmanship has in the modern world. I've translated the article below. I hope it inspires you!
My dream was to study fashion design in London or New York. I saw fashion as a personal means of creative expression, and I imagined it was a vital part of both cities. I also wanted to be a model. I loved the magic that exists between fashion and photography, and wanted to be a part of it.
You were first a ceramist and a visual artist, then one day you decided to design jewelry. How did that change your life?
It was liberating. I felt that painting and sculpture belonged to the intelectual world of visual arts, and as an intuitive creator, I could not identify with it. When I discovered jewelry, I saw an unexplored path, a place where I could find and develop my own voice. Being able to wear what I made also motivated me, because it combined well with my love for fashion.
How did you begin?
My mother is a natural artist, and she taught me from an early age to dye yarn, punch rugs, knit sweaters, draw, paint and sculpt. By the time I left high school I knew I wanted to do something creative and visual.
During my twenties, I worked in local ceramic and painting studios. In my thirties, I went to university and studied printmaking and ceramic sculpture. For two decades, creativity was an important part of my life, but my main focus was getting to know myself through yoga, meditation and travel. I intuitively knew that in order to be a good artist I first had to know who I was. After living in Vietnam, the United States and Canada, I returned to Mexico and discovered jewelry making. That was six years ago, and since then I've focused my attention on developing work that is very personal.
What is your vision as an artist? What inspires you to create?
Observing the world around me is my greatest pleasure in life. I am attracted to simple shapes, industrial objects, monumental architecture, and the art of ancient civilizations. I draw a lot, because if I don't capture ideas when I get them, they leave. I can also visualize a piece of jewelry better when I draw it. If I see something that's been done before, I always ask, how would I do that?
I draw a lot, because if I don't capture ideas when I get them, they leave.
I can also visualize a piece of jewelry better when I draw it.
If I see something that's been done before, I always ask, how would I do that?
You are a mixture of cultures and you have travelled a lot. What does the contact with other countries bring you?
Mexico is the place I love the most, and although I was born here, I consider myself a citizen of the world. My mother is British and my father is Mexican-Lebanese. From an early age I came into contact with diverse cultures, and since then I find travel very nourishing. When I work in my studio, I travel by listening to audiobooks and interviews. I spend most of my time alone and I connect with the rest of the world through the stories I hear.
How does travel feed your creativity?
When I travel, all of my senses awaken the moment I leave home. I like to travel with a good camera and I photograph everything that grabs my attention. Capturing images allows me to know my point of view, and that's where I discover my vision as an artist. I notice my preference for certain forms and I learn to compose. If you ask me whether I prefer to enjoy what others have made, or I'd rather make something myself, I will always prefer the latter. I am not a passive traveler, I'd rather be on the side of the maker than the consumer.
Are you interested in the crafts tradition?
I feel that in an industrialized world, the most valuable objects are those that have a human touch. Not only because they are handmade, but because they are made with emotion. They are pieces that transmit life.
I feel that in an industrialized world, the most valuable objects
are those that have a human touch. Not only because they are handmade,
but because they are made with emotion. They are pieces that transmit life.
My work is artisanal: I build each piece of jewelry by hand using rudimentary techniques and simple tools. I studied jewelry in a government-run trade school, and what I learnt can be done in a small space with a low budget. When I create, I am not interested in technology (although I am when I share my work). What I value most are my hands, my eyes and my imagination. My mother is a textile artist, and from her I inherited the pleasure of making things that aren't available elsewhere.
How do you merge craftsmanship and modernity?
I think that modernity does not come from following a trend, but by discovering who you are on the inside, and creating something that reflectes it on the outside. Traditional crafts tend to follow inherited techniques and imagery. It would be difficult for me to repeat the same pieces. I would die of boredom. I'm interested in discovering possibilities. What else can I do with an idea? This evolution makes my work current. As long as I feel alive, so will my work.
What materials do you like to use in your work?
My favorite raw material is sterling silver because it ages well and lasts a long time. I like the contrast between a smooth surface and texture, between what is matte and shiny. I also use semi-precious stones because they have a special energy. I'm in awe of the fact that they took millions of years to form, and I imagine all that had to happen for them to have a particular structure and color.
What kind of pieces do you make?
What I most make are rings. I love my hands, and they are the part of my body that I most adorn. Perhaps that's why I keep trying to make "The Ring," the one that is so special that it ends my search. I also enjoy making necklaces and earrings.
Are you interested in recovering traditions and sustainability?
I like to inspire those who want to create. I am exited to live in a world where everyone finds and expresses their unique voice. Where we don't limit ourselves, and are enriched by our diversity. I think the human species will have a future only if we can find meaning in what we generate. We are creators by nature. If we stop that impulse, we will destroy not only ourselves, but everything around us.
I think the human species will have a future only if we can find meaning
in what we generate. We are creators by nature. If we stop that impulse,
we will destroy not only ourselves, but everything around us.
My business model is sustainable in several ways. I make my jewelry with sterling silver recycled from photographic processes. I work from home, and shop for all of my raw materials locally. I am fortunate to be part of a generation that was not raised with the internet, but learnt to use it in time to take full advantage of its benefits. I now only sell online, which allows me to ship to all parts of the world, receive direct feedback from my customers, and spend most of my time making stronger work.
Are we going back to craftsmanship and quality design?
A few years ago I worked for an NGO helping traditional potters use unleaded glazes in their wares. As I visited the craftspeople in the Michoacán region, I realized that the only artisans that would survive globalization were those who had their own voice and made outstanding pieces. Objects that found their own market niche because they reflected mastery and had a unique and personal vision. I think we will always value creations that are born in the depths of human imagination.
I think we will always value creations that are born
in the depths of human imagination.
Where can we buy your jewelry?
On my website: www.musibatty.com. I ship to most parts of the world.
What are you working on now? What projects are coming up?
When I began, I though I'd create a business based on my jewelry, accessories, clothing and decorating designs. Since then, I've discovered that what I most love is making one-of-a-kind jewelry that embodies my vision as an artist.
What challenges do you have as a designer and citizen of the world?
My goal is to create jewelry that moves me and those who wear it deeply. Pieces that inspire others to explore their imagination. We don't need more stuff, but we do seek objects that are meaningful and uplift us. Work that reminds us of the great potential that exists within every human being.
My goal is to create jewelry that moves me and those who wear it deeply.
Pieces that inspire others to explore their imagination.
We don't need more stuff, but we do seek objects that are meaningful and uplift us.
Work that reminds us of the great potential that exists within every human being.