Silk Bijoux Interview



Jan Marie Lanier and Nicole Curl of Silk BijouxHow long have you been a silk painter? How did you discover silk painting?

I have been painting on silk for 23 years. I had met a girl who had lived in France and had been taught silk painting and was now teaching in the US.

Was this always your career? How did you get started? Where did you train?

I graduated from College with a degree in Design and a second degree in Marketing, working my way through school as a tailor (my mother was a tailor). I moved to Nevada and worked in advertising for a large casino. Another casino owner discovered I was a tailor and asked me to run their wardrobe department, which I did for several years. After discovering silk painting, I took classes in LA through workshops sponsored by an importer of our dye manufacturer. One of the instructors was my partner, Nicole.

Where did you meet Nicole and when/how did you decide to collaborate and start a business? How long have you been partners?

We ran into each other a year later at a suppliers convention and went out for dinner, and after that we began collaborating. We have been partners for about 20 years.

Where do you get your inspiration?

There isn't one source. Most often, new designs are working in my mind for a year or more, then I will snatch an image from odds places, the curve of a scroll or the leg of a chair - somehow one day they come together like the switch of a light bulb - hopefully in time for the next wholesale show! There's a lot of pressure from those deadlines.

What inspired you to design Judaica?

We had been exhibiting at the NY gift show for several years and several buyers had suggested it. Soon after I was exhibiting at an art show in Michigan when a young girl asked if I would make her a tallis. I told her I would give it a try. My neighbor brought her husband's tallis over and I spoke with their Rabbi. I researched tallis and their history for several months before I completed her design. I knew it was to be a meaningful piece for her and it was important to me to make sure I honored Judaic traditions. I told Sara Beams about the tallis and she was the one that encouraged me to exhibit them at the show.

What do you enjoy most about this career?

The freedom to create and the stories from our customers on how they have enjoyed what our hard work brings them!

Who or what had the greatest influence on you as you developed as an artist, or did you always have your own style?

I feel very blessed to have Nicole as a partner. There is nothing greater as an artist than to have someone to throw ideas off of and be able to collaborate on a project. It always makes a better outcome. How would you describe your style? That's hard - I don't think I have one style. I have a strong architectural background so I lean towards clean lines and realism. There is always a balance as to what you like to create and what is marketable and producible. That is the practical side of the business.

What do you do for fun?

We love to travel. Myy husband, daughter and I have traveled all over the world. We try to take a big trip every other year. Last year it was Egypt - what an amazing place!

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Find a balance - ask yourself what you want out of your art. Is it a creative outlet for you, or do you want to support yourself by it? Believe me - they can be two very different things. Creating is a calling - very few people earn enough to make a good living. If you want to earn a living by it, you have to understand it is a business first. There have been many a design we have done over the years that we loved but were too time consuming or expensive to make them part of a business model - you have to accept that.

How would you describe your creative process?

We work backwards from most people. We decide we need a design for a certain customer and at a certain price, then we start batting around ideas that have been in the back of our minds and decide what alternative will fill that void. At that point, Nicole and I will start sketching out ideas until something sticks.

Who is your favorite artist? Musician? Writer?

I love the great masters. Musician? I enjoy many styles, nothing extreme. My daughter is a music theatre major, so show tunes are big in the car. I enjoy listening to Josh Groban. Writer? I enjoy listening to books on tape when I paint production pieces, so whatever is in the studio at the time. I lean toward historical fiction.

Thanks, Jan!

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