Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wendy Van Camp ~ Artist Interview

Welcome to our weekly artist interview series - this week we are featuring Wendy Van Camp.  Thanks so much for sharing today Wendy!
Wendy Van Camp
How would you describe what you do as an artist? 
I am a designer of women's jewelry.  Most of my work is wirewrapped forms featuring small gauge wire and semi-precious stones.  I usually use sterling silver in my work, but lately I've been featuring pieces made of copper wire or a mix of silver and copper. Unusual stones are the focus  in my work, ones with lots of interesting textures or colors.

What inspires your designs?
I am half Scottish.  I use my heritage to give my contemporary jewelry a Celtic inspiration.  Tree of Life pendants are a specialty.

© Wendy Van Camp ~ Freeform Tree of Life
How long have you been involved in this type of making?
I was a television producer/director by night and a high school teacher by day.  Then I met my husband. Suddenly, my personal life became more important than pursuing the next television gig. I had a great desire to slow down my life and to spend more time with my husband and perhaps start a family. To save money on our wedding, I made my own bridal veil and discovered bead jewelry making for the first time.  It was relaxing as well as creative, very much opposite from my previous hectic life.  I quit teaching and scaled back my television production work to part-time in order to begin a small jewelry business.  That was 16 years ago.  I love being an artist and working for myself on my own terms.  Jewelry is my main line of business.  However, I recently have become a certified gemologist and a freelance writer.  I am beginning to write part-time in addition to my jewelry business.  It's all good.

Where are you located?
Anaheim Hills is the hilly, upscale, part of Anaheim, CA. Close enough to the beach to enjoy, but far enough away that we don't have to deal with tourists.  My house is near the Nixon Presidential Library and Disneyland. We often enjoy the fireworks from the park in our backyard. There are hubs of historic small towns that are still thriving nearby and provide quaint places to visit and shop.  My favorite writing spot is a coffeehouse that used to be the building of a local newspaper in one of these old town hubs.  The heritage society has preserved the original facade of the building and inside it is paneled in old-fashioned wood.  It makes for a great writing atmosphere.

© Wendy Van Camp ~ earrings
Do you have a website or online store?
I do not have an online store and have no real plans to open one for my jewelry.  I find that people like to see and touch my pieces before they buy. I have sold online in the past, but I've discovered that the additional paperwork, photography and taxes involved has made it cost and time prohibitive.

I maintain a website for my work.  It is a gallery to display my jewelry and for customers to keep track of where I will be at shows.  I use the website mainly to display my jewelry to promoters when I'm jurying into a new venue and to link to articles that I write in the jewelry or gemological field.

© Wendy Van Camp ~ Garnet Byzantine

What other ways do you market your work?
I have an established venue circuit where I sell my work.  Juried Fine Art/Craft shows that are held in conjunction with music festivals, Scottish Highland Games and Science Fiction Conventions.  I love working outside in my booth.  Where else can you make a living under the trees on a beautiful day?  Word of mouth has done me well. I have many repeat customers at these events.

Do you teach? if so, where?
I am often approached to teach by studios or by individuals, but somehow the right venue has not opened for me.  I tend to be rather busy between my shows and writing.  One day I would not mind teaching, but for now it is on the back burner.

Any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Be honest with yourself.  Do you have the self discipline to set your own hours and do the work required to have a successful business? Have you focused not only on the artistic side of this profession, but also on gaining the business and marketing skills necessary to promote your work as an artist?  Metalsmithing is a physical and demanding professional with long hours and much risk. Setting up a studio with equipment is costly as are paying for booth fees to sell your work. You will not have many of the perks that people who work for others take for granted. If that does not scare you, then welcome!  There is a certain amount of freedom in working for yourself that can not be matched anywhere else. Also, the joy of seeing another person love your work enough that they wish to purchase it and make it their own is a wonderful feeling.  For me, this has made all the difference.

© Wendy Van Camp ~ Sterling Rhodonite Tree

Where do you envision your work going in the next year?
With the rising cost of metals, I am wondering how much longer I will be able to work in sterling silver.  I'm exploring more ways to use copper both in jewelry and as wall art.  I'm growing more focused on writing and working as a gemologist and hope to expand my presence in these areas over the next few years.

Anything else you would like to share?
Please feel free to visit my website and follow my blog: www.indigoskye.com
Like my Facebook Business Page: http://www.facebook.com/indigoskyebead
Follow me at Twitter: http://twitter.com/wvancamp

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