“A piece of jewelry always tells a story. My designs are borne of the relationships between colors, consciousness, and the eccentricities that make us unique,” tells jewelry designer Sofia Ramsey to Fab.com, where a sale of her distinct, statement-making jewelry is going on today. We checked in with the Pratt Institute alumna for an peek inside her creative process.
two+seven: Your thesis collection was inspired by Native American culture. What other sources do you draw inspiration from?
Sofia Ramsay: I am constantly inspired by my surroundings. Living in New York, I have a unique visual and physical experience every day, so ideas are always coming to me. A great artist once told me that everything in her life inspires her, it’s just a matter of filtering the information. For me, I know a piece of jewelry needs to be made when I can feel what it would be like to wear it. The Totem Necklace came to me on the sidewalk of 34th Street, dodging throngs of tourists and commuters. In all the chaos, I could feel the loose chains swinging around my neck, with the tight control of the thread keeping everything in line, then slowly the colors and forms came together in my mind. My process is very organic, so to always be turned on to my environment from this sensitive perspective is very important.
2+7: How has working as an assistant helped you develop your own brand?
SR: All of the women I have worked for have made a huge impact on my career and development as an artist. Early on, working in Darcy Miro’s studio showed me a whole different perspective on art jewelry than what I was learning in school. Being let into her world really enhanced my education. She introduced me to Ninh Wysocan and other talented artists and designers that I am lucky to know. Over time they have all shed light on different aspects of the business like production and management, but mostly the importance of staying true to your vision.
I eventually went on to design fashion jewelry on a commercial level, which was a huge shift and a valuable experience. Going from working with my hands in a studio to an office where designs are strategized and marketed was like having a whole different education. I was glad to seek out a new avenue, especially when I was just starting out, and now I am synthesizing all of these experiences to forge my own path. Ultimately, working has taught me that it is so important to surround yourself with people that make you think. That is inspiration, and if you have the right frame of mind, anything can be a learning experience.
2+7: Tell us about your design process. Do you sketch, use a computer program, etc?
SR: I prefer to work directly with the materials when I am designing. Sometimes I will do a quick gestural sketch to bring the concept into a physical state, other times a design will require a more technical rendering. Whatever I need to do to prepare, I always look forward to constructing and manipulating materials. I am a trained metalsmith so this is naturally my comfort zone. Being able to hold a piece of jewelry and wear it while it is being designed, you’re getting closer to the experience your product is going to provide, so the physical presence of the object is essential to its development. Until you are holding it in your hand, it is just an idea.
2+7: Who is the Sofia Ramsay customer, and where does she wear your jewelry?
SR: My customer has an eye for detail. She experiments with her personal style depending on her mood, and says a lot by saying very little. She wears my rings to work and drinks with friends, my necklaces in the evenings, and bracelets to brunch. She might not know exactly what her plans are but she knows she is going to have fun and look amazing.
2+7: What do you have in the works?
SR: I hope to elaborate on my own collection while continuing to design for larger brands. It is always good to have a few projects going at once, so your mind can stay agile, and none of your skills gets rusty. My immediate goal is to put my collection in a few brick and mortar stores. I started out in a pop-up shop in Brooklyn, where I could really develop relationships with the staff and other designers, and I miss that.
In that vein, I would also love to do a collaboration with another brand or do a specialty collection for a boutique. This feels like the next natural step, and I hope to keep gaining momentum.
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