This is the first of the interviews that I’ve been meaning to share with you for a long time now. Gabi Veit was so nice to answer a few questions of mine. I’ve translated Gabi’s answers from German to English, so some things might have been lost in translation; I apologize in advance ;-)
Name: Gabi Veit
Born in: Bozen/Bolzano, Italy
Contemporarty: You studied Graphic Design, own a graphic studio and you are also the founder and director of a theatre, which produces around 110 events, concerts, cabaret shows and theatrical plays per year.
First of all, wow!
How did contemporary jewellery come into your life? Was it the natural “next-step” to expressing yourself?
Gabi Veit: I’ve always been interested in jewellery. In my mid-twenties I wanted to become a goldsmith but I was too old to start an apprenticeship. I’ve always loved jewellery as a form of personal expression, as the opportunity to tell a story or to take part in a story. I’ve always offered my creativity to the service of others, as a graphic designer, in order to sell a product or because I was curious to take part at an event. As the director of a theatre I’ve always wanted to bring people together, artists on the one side, the audience on the other. Now I’m telling my stories with jewellery, which is a very personal form of art.
C.: How do you keep the balance between all these forms of expression? Do you favourite one of them or do you equally love all these artistic forms?
G.V.: I work as a graphic designer and a jewellery designer; I divide my time between working at my computer and at the jewellery bench.
As a graphic designer, I take care of my long-time customers and do exciting projects such as the 160-page monograph ABECEDARIUM from Peter Bauhuis, the great jewellery designer from Munich.
As a jewellery designer I’m still in the beginning. In 2011, I graduated from the 3-year course at Alchimia. It makes me very happy to work with my hands, to give shape and form to objects. In contrast to graphic design, as a jewellery maker I work with one-of-a-kind pieces; it’s a work that is unique and cannot be reproduced.
C.: You seem to be inspired by nature and by human relationships that grow, are destroyed or even become stronger through the process. These are very strong subjects emotionally, yet you have a low-key colour and material palette. How did you come to connect your ideas to these materials/colours?
G.V.: Nature has trully been an inspiration to me as far as form and subject are concerned. On the other hand, people, their stories and my connection to them arouse my curiosity. Sometimes, I think that my life is so colourful and diverse that I can express myself only by reducing and substracting. That means just a little colour and mostly working with one or two materials, because it makes it easier for me to translate what I have in mind.
C.: You use wax-casting very often to create your jewellery. How does this process empower your work?
G.V.: Wax is my favourite material. There are so many ways to work with it. It’s soft and can be easily transformed. I can work swiftly and intuitively with it but I can also use it in a more sculptural sense. I love the idea of transformation. It’s an extra challenge for me because there are also technical boundaries to it. Wax, which is a visually flowing, vulnerable material is transformed into metal, a very hard and invulnerable material. I find this fascinating.
C.: As far as I can see, you’ve created more rings and brooches than other pieces of jewellery, like e.g. necklaces or earrings. Why is that?
G.V.: Rings are my favourite kind of jewellery. They are a complete sculpture around the finger. I think I’d rather create only rings. The most complicated piece of jewellery is for me the necklace, which consists of many elements. I’ve made some necklaces lately because I find it very challenging!
Brooches are sculptures, which become jewellery with the help of an auxiliary aparatus. Sometimes, it looks to me as if brooches were the easy way out to create a piece in contemporary jewellery. You make something, you put a pin on it and you’ve got a brooch.
Earrings do not do much for my natural laziness… You have to make two pieces that have to be as similar as possible and I am not attracted to that. I love making one-of-a-kind pieces… That’s why when I make earrings, they are usually not similar like twins but more like brother and sister.
C.: How do you start creating a piece? Do you use drawings or do you work directly with the materials?
G.V.: I prefer workind directly with the material. I usually have a first idea, on which I’d like to base my object but through the working process I tend to wander far from it. I experiment a lot, I produce many pieces, I combine them and then I make a choice. Through this process a series of works is developed. Drawing is usually a free approach, a speculation, a way to fathom the subject. The actual pieces, however, are developed during the working process.
C.: Some jewellery artists do not care about wearability and do not even wear jewellery themselves. What about you?
G.V.: For me, a piece of jewellery has to be wearable. Nevertheless, the question of wearability is an open one. I believe that a self-confident wearer can wear many objects that others would not even consider as wearable. It is a question of self-confidence and how much one is involved with contemporary jewellery.
I always wear jewellery; my own work and pieces of other artists, whose work means something to me. I would love to be a jewellery collector and be able to buy all the pieces that I like…
C.: What projects are you working on at the moment?
G.V.: I like to work on various projects simultaneously. In the past months, I’ve been working with an indigenous stone, garnet, and I’ve been making necklaces and rings, which are based on the Alpine tradition but I try to go beyond it. Also, I’ve been experimenting with spoons, an object I feel very attached to.
C.: Who were the persons that mostly influenced your working process or that have given you some unexpected and enlightening guidance?
G.V.: There are two things that enrich me as a person: the architect Peter Zumthor and the Japanese concept of “wabi sabi”. For me, they both incorporate an aesthetic of imperfection; it’s the lived, the personal, a life and a form of design that inspire me.
C.: A person comes up to you and tells you: I want to become a contemporary jeweller. What is your advice?
G.V.: Do it. Be it.
Gabi, thank you so much for sharing a little of yourself with us and for giving us such an amazing insight into your world!
Thank you for reading, everybody :)