This weekend I got a really inspiring reply from an artist couple from Croatia, who agreed to answer our featured artist interview questions. Valentina Stepan and Zoran Kranjčec are the creators behind the Mist Jewellery brand.
I love the idea of nature being the driving force for the artists in the process of crafting their unique wooden jewellery. It is apparent in the material choice, product photography, branding, and the story behind. Artists combine beautiful textures and colours of wood into balanced jewellery pieces. Triangular shape is persistent among their creations symbolising the harmony in nature with the elements of fire, water and air, as well as the connection that exists between the product, the maker and the user.
And here is the inspiring story from the makers:
What is special about your collaborative design studio?What do you like the most about working together?
We studied together, and with time the art ultimately led us to our private connection. Everything went very spontaneously without any plan. The collaboration that has shaped our work as it is today slowly formed itself through our studying and experimenting within the course of industrial design (jewellery making) and a small woodworking studio with basic but necessary tools thanks to the history of craftsmanship within our families. We don’t have specific division of duties, intuition is our primary guide and we organize ourselves as we go. Also, in the process of making we’re trying to use different technical and aesthetic approaches. Also, in our professional relationship, we’re the worst critic to each other but in a very stimulating and supportive atmosphere.
What inspires you individually and how do you combine that together?
In general we have different fascinations but in the end they always meet somewhere in between… Zoran draws inspiration from the border of nature and technology, spiritual and material, traditional and contemporary, while I observe the world, the moment and the matter as a segment of the rhizome concept. But what in general define our common inspiration is nature, forests, mountains, weather… The story began in a small workshop located in the mountain region of Croatia called Gorski kotar. It’s stimulating and inspiring environment also known for its natural beauty and healing abilities. Now we are located in the north of Croatia in a small baroque town of Varaždin and we wonder which will be our next destination…
Describe your typical day in the studio.
Each such day, preferably bathed in the sun, begins with the morning ritual of drinking coffee. In colder days, during the process of awakening we need to heat up our work space, so we first gather the wood and fill up grandpa’s old wood burning stove in order to achieve the temperature suitable for work. While we work, we forget on the time. As the wood leads the way, through changing the tasks and roles we patiently go through different stages of development (selection of materials, gluing, cutting, grinding…). Often the twilight plays the role of a clock, as a reminder about the time that has passed.
How does your work space look like? What do you like about it? What would you change?
Given that we are currently located in Varaždin, where Zoran had worked as an art teacher, we made us a small, temporary and humble workshop in the vineyard near the town. As we have already mentioned, we are inspired by working surrounded with nature and there is a beautiful view from our current workshop to the hills and forests in combination with ever-changing weather conditions. The permanent visitors here are deer, rabbits and other forest animals… For now we changed two locations of our workshop and we have an ambitious dream to own a mobile studio someday, something like a camper (workshop on wheels :)) in which we would work, travel the world and gather knowledge and inspiration from different natural and cultural sights and places.
What advice would you give to fresh designers, artists and makers?
If you’re doing something that requires great devotion and effort, is connected with your skills, your passion and will, which in the end fulfills you and even someone else with positive emotions, this kind of stuff is worth standing for. No matter if it’s the process, final product or some other purpose of the work that’s satisfying you, as long as it keeps you motivated and balanced the overall value and purpose of your work is significant. It’s true that sometimes is very difficult …in our case, we are in a society where artistic creativity is often interpreted as meaningless and that kind of support is extremely important, to be tolerated and accepted by the society in which you should feel comfortable as a full member of the community. Every fall we need to look as a new beginning and feed on those true, deeper meanings of artistic creation. …actually hereby we advise ourselves too… All can be achieved, it’s necessary to find the courage, make that first step and persevere!
All the images used in the post belong to the artists Valentina Stepan and Zoran Kranjčec.