Monday, February 9, 2009

Tips for Working with an Artist to Design a Custom Item

I have ordered two custom pieces I love from Lisaslovlies. Based on my experience, I thought I might offer some tips for working with an artist.

1. Find someone whose work you love. You may want to buy a piece they have made before ordering a custom piece, so you can get a feel for how they put together and finish their pieces.

2. Look for good design and good craftsmanship. A positive rating from other customers is nice too.

3. Email a little with your seller to make sure you will work together well. Maybe just float the idea of collaborating on a custom piece. Make sure the seller is good at corresponding - both that they "get" you and that they get back to you in a timely fashion. Custom orders may take a little back and forth in working details out between the two of you.

3. Decide on a general design you would like - materials and basic overall idea.

4. If it uses an unusual material that can have variations - like a stone cabochon - ask the designer for photos of stones to choose from.

5. Check and make sure you are on the same page re: price.

Now to the nitty-gritty of design...

6. If you are designing around a stone or stones, get a good feel for how big the stones are. I will use a ruler to get a general idea of the size of a stone. But when I get serious about a stone for a particular design, I will take a digital picture of the stone, resize it to the exact size of the real stone in a program like Digital Image Pro and print it out. That way I can picture better what the piece will actually look like when it's on.

7. With your print out, draw what you think the piece will look like.

8. If your jewelry will be on a chain, get a chain or piece of string that length and see what length works best. For rings, you can get a ring sizer, get you finger sized somewhere locally, or send the seller a ring you like the fit of to work from.

9. Give as many details as possible about what you want. If you want something that looks like a piece the seller has already made - or even if it's just one detail about it, let her know what it is that you liked. Specify as much as you can, for example finishes (hammered, satin, oxidized, etc.) , type of bail, the amount of embellishment, anything. If you have a specific idea, send the seller a sketch so they can see what you are talking about.

10. When you are torn about what would look best, ask the artist for their opinion. Then go with your gut. You are the one who is going to wear it!

Probably the best piece of advice I ever got about buying jewelry from a sales clerk was when I loved a necklace but it wasn't really me - she told me not to buy something that you had talk yourself in to because you probably wouldn't wear it.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

This is fabulous Andrea!! It is very valuable information, well done!

Andrea said...

Thanks, Lisa!