MEET THE MAKER: OLIVIA TERRELL JEWELRY
Like a lot of people living in New York City, Olivia Terrell came from somewhere else. The Nashville-born jewelry designer, who credits her Southern roots as a key influence on her design aesthetic and easygoing approach to life, more than holds her own in a busy, buzzy city like New York. Not one to get lost in the crowd (she crafted a niche for herself early on as one of 9 kids in her family), Olivia stands out among the sea of makers and doers thanks in large part to her authenticity and unique perspective. For her, designing jewelry is the most personal of art forms.
Olivia received her BFA in Jewelry and Metalwork from the University of Georgia's Lamar Dodd School of Art, where she learned to forge and fabricate with the best of them. She briefly moved back to Nashville after college, taking on the occasional design commission while she and her husband made plans for their next move. In 2013, the couple picked up and moved to Madrid, where they would live for the next two years. While in Spain, Olivia decided to put on the small business owner hat and create full-time. She designed a number of lines while abroad, bringing them to life more fully in her New York studio last fall.
Her eponymous line of hand-crafted necklaces, bracelets, and earrings are inspired by the ever-changing landscapes and cityscapes that surround her. Her pieces range from the feminine to the bold, reflecting inspiration once found in nature and now in the architecture of NYC. Whether it's a subtle adornment or a statement piece you're after, Olivia's got you covered. You can now find some of her expertly made bobbles in our shop. Treat yourself or someone else.
Read our interview with Olivia of Olivia Terrell Jewelry below:
S&A: You've designed custom and one-off pieces for the past several years. What inspired you to finally launch Olivia Terrell Jewelry?
OTJ: After I graduated with my degree in Jewelry and Metalworking from the University of Georgia, I remember thinking that I would have to go work for a big jewelry store, repairing chains and broken watches. I thought there would be no way to turn the aspects I loved about jewelry into a business. I had been keeping up my skills and always had a tiny space (mostly in garages) in which to create, but never thought too seriously about making it more than that. Then last year, when my husband and I were making plans to return to the U.S. from Madrid, I was trying to figure out what to do for work moving forward. I decided to take a leap of faith and start on this path to full-time maker and small business owner… and I officially launched Olivia Terrell Jewelry in September of 2015!
S&A: How have your various moves—Nashville, Athens, Ga., Madrid, and now New York City—influenced you as a fine artist?
OTJ: The ever-changing landscape around me is probably the thing that has defined my work the most. The forms that I have historically been drawn to are more organic in nature, but after making homes in Madrid and now NYC, my work has shifted with the geometry of the city. My work is more angular now, but I can often feel myself getting back to my roots and trying to lessen any hard or harsh edges. I guess you could say my work is softly geometric.
S&A: What's the biggest challenge that designing for OTJ brings to your life?
OTJ: As a small business owner, I am faced with wearing a lot of different hats. I am an extremely right-brained person, but am constantly being pushed to do things that are way out of my comfort zone, like finance and developing business strategies, etc. I am, however, learning that the skills that I’m honing are really valuable and I'm able to appreciate the different roles that I have to play. Sometimes I wish that my job was 100% designing and making, but It forces me to operate outside my natural strengths and keeps me on my toes for sure.
S&A: What does the creative community look like in NYC?
OTJ: Living in New York City is the great equalizer. What I mean by that is pretty much everyone (no matter your income or lack thereof) is living in tiny apartments, starting new or different careers, chasing some sort of a passion, and other sorts of crazy things that only happen in New York. All of those qualities are magnified in the creative community, I think. I love how fearless creative people are here and it has definitely given me the push I need in my own creative endeavors. If you don’t get the part or gig you wanted, you get back up and keep trying. If you do, you are grateful and keep giving it your all.
S&A: From where do you draw your personal inspiration?
OTJ: I think about inspiration in two ways: there’s the active seeking of inspiration and the passive. By passive, I mean the kind of inspiration that I find just in my daily life walking around New York City, taking in all the sights, smells, sounds, etc. Architecture is a big one for me. I love buildings and industrial materials. When actively seeking inspiration, I set aside time to allow myself to be a sponge. During this time, I usually stay away from things like social media as I find it can cloud my creativity, initially. I think it’s a healthy practice not to solely rely on the Internet as a source of inspiration. I visit museums, libraries, parks, and more. I people watch. I sketch. I take a lot of photos. I eat good food. I do things that give me energy.
S&A: What are some of your favorite spots in NYC to recommend to out-of-towners?
OTJ: There are too many to name, but off the top of my head:
1) Cafe Mogador (Williamsburg)—Amazing food and wonderful vibe.
2) Double Dutch Espresso (Harlem)—My go-to coffee shop near my house.
3) Pegu Club (SoHo)—Yummiest cocktails ever.
4) Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum (Upper East Side)—One of my favorite smaller museums to visit.