Chicago metalsmith Lindsay Lewis has been mastering her craft since 2004, pulling from architecture, fine art and art history to inspire her designs. Meet Lindsay!
Have you always been passionate about design?
Yes! I think what got me really into decorative arts and design was visiting the city when I was young and being so intrigued by the art nouveau building ornament and architecture of Chicago. I always loved all forms of crafting and making things with my hands came naturally.
Why did you start working in this particular field?
I started taking jewelry metalsmtihng classes in high school and was instantly obsessed. I would spend my lunch and any open hours making things in the jewelry room. Later, in art school, I dabbled in furniture design and sculpture a bit but always went back to jewelry.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
I like unusual shape combinations and am influenced by a jumble of things that somehow end up working together. I think quality and affordability are very important as well.
Have you had any major failures? If so what were some insights gained?
With every collection there is usually one “failure” design.. Some designs that I love just don’t take off with buyers and that’s okay. Maybe it’s too weird or too boring. I don’t stress if a design isn’t selling well. I just move onto the next thing and make it better!
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so what and do you have any regrets?
When I first started my business I sacrificed the guaranteed paycheck which was scary at first. Sometimes I find myself sacrificing my social life.. I would prioritize my business before going out with friends or getting together with family but now I am able to balance everything more efficiently. So far, I have no regrets.
What has been your proudest moment since creating your business?
Each time I release a new collection it becomes my proudest moment. There’s so much that goes into it from designing, making samples, figuring out the best production, naming everything, shooting a lookbook and product photos. Releasing the finished product for the world to see is so gratifying.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
I am so influenced by Chicago. I walk through the city a lot and find the small details in Chicago architecture to be really inspiring. The people living here also play a role in my work because there are so many creative entrepreneurs who are killing it in their industries– it’s great motivation.
What valuable experience did you have before starting your business?
When I was in college I worked for artists and jewelers where I learned a ton about how you can run a small business making things. I wasn’t sure I could be self employed until I worked for people who were. Knowing that it is possible and having the confidence to do it is the first and most important step.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
When I graduated from college I worked part time at bars and part time on jewelry. Things were really picking up with my business so I knew it was time do go 100% in. Now, if jewelry doesn’t work out for some reason, I think I would have to start another business. Being my own boss is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in life and I can’t imagine working for someone else.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I love working with metal and I get a lot of ideas from playing around and experimenting with what the metal can do. I also find inspiration from art history, architecture, and my surroundings.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
The best way to be successful is to work hard and make connections with fellow makers. I have learned so much from doing fairs and talking with other people in the maker community. Having an open and supportive dialogue helps out everyone!
In other news: Alex Clarke and I are doing a collaboration that we are really excited about. We crafted 16 one of a kind pieces utilizing her skill as a woodworker and my metalsmith techniques. Here’s a sneak peek!