Monday, October 31, 2011

Aritst Interview ~ Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Special thanks to Kest for sharing with us! 

Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

How would you describe what you do as an artist?
My work is all about being one of a kind, affordable, and easy to wear. I use metal to evoke the natural landscape from which the ore emerged. Some pieces are very bold, shouting of earthquakes, while others whisper of quiet fields of rustling grass, or paths through autumn woods.  Like any good traveling companion, my pieces are a bit eccentric- each is entirely different from every other piece I've ever created. Each has their own personality, as organic and hard to define as each of your friends. The masks provide a different kind of freedom; by letting you pretend to be something else, they allow you to truly be yourself. They are wearable, yet function as sculpture off the head.

Ghost ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

What inspires your designs?
Mostly the copper itself- also the world. Trees and streams and acorn caps caught in whirlpools. Folktales and fairytales and overheard stories. Sometimes big thoughts, but mostly small ones. Recently I've been making masks for all the critters in Borges "The Book of Imaginary Beings", and this has challenged me tremendously- some of the creatures I know, but others I have to invent from a small bit of text.
Triceratops worn ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

How long have you been involved in this type of making?
I've been making masks for over a decade. I've been forging copper for about 8 years. I've been inventing odd critters for just under 30 years. 

Cassawary ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Where are you located?
Currently in Nashville, TN. I move around a lot, and travel even more, so you never know where I'll turn up. Next on the list: Bicycling the Mediterranean coast (not all of it). 

Hummingbird ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry
Mosquito from Elow ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Do you have a website or etsy store?
I primarily list my work at
I do also have an etsy shop
Right now the Imaginary Beings only exist on my blog 
Guillotine Ring front ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

What other ways do you market your work?
I've recently gotten into wholesale, so now my stuff is available in several boutiques and museum stores, mostly in the northeast, and right around Nashville. Occasionally I do participate in a gallery show, but not so often.
Falling Waters ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Sage advice? I don't know about that! I think that the one real solid thing I have to share is that it's worth trying with that thing you really want to be doing that everyone says will be impossible. I started my business with my jewelry- I enjoyed making the masks, but didn't think they would be commercially viable. It was years before I put the time into making them sellable. Now I have trouble making them fast enough to keep them in stock. The other, related, thing is to go ahead and make that big thing that you really KNOW will never sell. It'll get attention, or, in other words, free advertising. 

Flora ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Where do you envision your work going in the next year?
Well, there's still 120 critters left in the book of imaginary beings. That'll be most of the next year. After that? Maybe I'll extend the book from my own folkloric studies.
Bermuda Triangle ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

Anything else you would like to share?
MY FaceBook Fan page:
My photos on flickr: 
And if you're looking for funny stories, I've been writing them up on my personal blog, here:  
Backbone with bone ©Kest Schwartzman of Vagabond Jewelry

1 comment:

  1. I'm very (VERY) happy to know Kest... She is a very special artist. She is authentic. I love her world and the way she express herself through copper and metal in general. Complexity and simplicity are working together in her art...She brings poetry with a hammer, and gives life to fabulous beings who participate in beautifying the world

    All my respect.