Conversations with an Artist: Olivia Shih
We were struck by the geometric and architectural shapes featured in Olivia Shih's jewelry collection. They have bold strength and at the same time an elegant grace. She hand sculpts each piece transforming the acrylic into textural jewelry. Olivia's collection just landed across the Bay from her Oakland studio.
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
I attended a competitive college, thinking I would become an academic, and art was the only thing that kept me from burning out. Every time I stepped into the painting studio on the third floor, I felt like I could breathe a little bit better. And sleep a little bit sounder.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
My jewelry collections are based on moments in my life. Sometimes a mood, a gesture, or a fleeting emotion will lead to a new design sketch.
Tell us about what influences the direction for your jewelry collections.
The Black Gold Collection was inspired by a moment in a photograph that I stumbled across. In the photograph, an iceberg had flipped upside down. It was a sleek, deep sea-green creature of ice that looked naked without its blanket of snow. But despite its vulnerability, the iceberg remained defiant. I knew I had to capture this blending of intense vulnerability and strength.
How has your work developed over time?
I've learned that a jewelry collection can be a living thing. As I grow and absorb new experiences, my jewelry changes with me. I listen to my clients and notice the way they wear my jewelry. I might thin down a silhouette here or add a length of chain there. But the core of the collection remains the same.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
My ultra fine point Sharpie. I use it to mark places on metal to saw, to bend, to solder, and the ink mark burns off nicely when I no longer need it.
Do you collect anything?
At the moment, succulents of all shapes and sizes. The succulent has always struck me as a very content, happy plant, almost a little too self-satisfied with its gorgeous, plump leaves.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
I'm a podcast addict, and I recently listened to an episode of Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell. Titled "Strong Verbs, Short Sentences," the podcast details the life of Bernadette Healy, a brilliant and influential woman who made her mark in the male-dominated medical world. I create jewelry for women who, like Healy, think bold and stay inquisitive.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
Fail often and fail spectacularly.
I make jewelry for decisive women who speak their own minds. Navigate the challenges of modern life with unrivaled cool. Think bold. Stay inquisitive.
These lucite gems give new meaning to cut stones, made even better being crafted one at a time from Olivia's hands. Come see them for yourself!
Photos provide by Olivia Shih
~ Bonnie & Jeffrey