I think that challenging yourself continuously is very important. You can only move forward, if you force yourself to learn new things. If you keep acting only in your comfort zone, you will stay at the same point constantly.
Wether it is on a general professional or personal level, or just a single object I am working on – I always try to find new techniques or materials to explore. Some people want to focus on one same material or technique, which is also fine. The most important thing for me however is not to stop at the same point each time. Try to continue to surprise yourself, to go further than what you have imagined and find new, and different ways to do and to think.
In my latest series Diplopia I have used various techniques including 3D printing for the first time. It offered a complete new way of working to me. I think it is important to be open to a broad spectrum of techniques and materials, from traditional ones to new technologies. Be open to adapt to new opportunities in order to seize all the possibilities you are offered.
I believe that if you have a goal and you really want to achieve something, it is important that you frame it for yourself. If you keep seeing it clear in front of you, your whole body and mind will move towards it. Every decision and every move, leads you closer to your goal.
Don´t hesitate to participate or apply because you think you are not experienced enough, or are too anxious about the possibility of failing. It is very tough to be self-confident in the art field. Especially as art jewelers, when we sometimes seem to float in an area between design, arts and crafts. Thus, it is such a satisfaction to achieve something that you did not think you could do. Those moments keep you going and help you to move on, so strive for them.
This year I won the “Eligius-Schmuckpreis 2016”. When I decided to apply I really did not have high hopes to get chosen, since I had just finished my studies and moved to Vienna a few months earlier. I decided to give it a shot anyway since it can´t hurt. Eventually I won the prize, which was an amazing opportunity and honor. I realized that I was wrong in not believing in my chances. We can always find reasons not to do things, but those will keep us from engaging in great possibilities and if we just try, we might be proven wrong. And also: failing is a learning experience too!
Don´t limit yourself and your ideas. At first, for every idea and every plan you should aim as high as you can. Let your ideas and thoughts develop free from limitations. Step by step you can try to find solutions for realizing them or for solving the problems or for finding other, easier ways to get where you want to.
Have a plan, a dream, but don´t stick to it irrevocably. Often you need to change, adjust or adapt your plans a little. Maybe this will lead to steps that you did not plan in advance, but they might just lead you to another route on the way to your goal. If there are chances, you have to catch them.
At the beginning of my educational path as a jeweler I could not have imagined where my way would lead. I had not planned on doing my bachelors in Florence and I never thought I would complete my masters degree in the US. I am incredibly happy that I took the chances as they came, as those where the most valuable experiences of my whole life.
In my second year of grad school one of my art professors told me about his “folder of rejections”. It was a huge, stuffed folder that he kept. Over the years he collected every letter of refusal he received and put it in this folder. He is a successful artist today, but he assured me that for each time he got accepted for an exhibition or a job, he probably got rejected 10 times or more. Sometimes it can be very hard to take a rejection or a failure. You start questioning everything, asking yourself why you didn’t choose another career and worry that all your hard work ends in despair. Don´t be afraid to fail, don´t let it bring you down, there will be a next time and it will be worth it!
The best way to produce good work is to enjoy doing it. It will be easy for you to work hard and a lot if it doesn´t just feel like work. This works best if you can create a surrounding that comforts you. Make yourself a home in your studio and work close to people you like! I have always shared my studio with other artists. It was the best way to stay motivated when I got lost in my process, or when I was tired. I can ask my mates for suggestions and I even learn while trying to help them. If you talk, discuss, dream and phantasize together, your ideas will float and flourish in a way you can never achieve if you just sit by yourself. It is fun to work until late if you can have little breaks together and encourage each other to go on for one more hour.
Since April 2016 I am a Member of Atelier Stoss im Himmel. We are 8 artists that share a workspace and have a common exhibition space, where we have a showroom and organize shows. It is a beautiful space, equipped with all the tools we need to work and the possibility to split duties and responsibilities. None of us could afford anything close to this by themselves and of course, it is much more fun together.
Lena Grabher is a Vienna-based contemporary jeweler. She started her education in Vienna where she accomplished her apprenticeship examination as a goldsmith. She completed her BFA degree in Florence at ALCHIMIA contemporary jewelry school in 2013, to continue her studies in Metals at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she received her MFA in May 2015. Since 2016 she is a Member of Atelier STOSSimHIMMEL and teaches gold and silversmithing techniques at the Wiener Goldschmiedelehrgang. Lena has developed an experimental way of working that is driven by an urge to discover and explore the subject of jewelry on many levels. Her latest work is entitled DIPLOPIA and was currently awarded with the prestigious Eligius – Schmuckpreis.
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