Friday, January 18, 2008

Jill Popowich Designs

It is kind of funny that all of our stories start out “when I was a little girl...”. I’m no exception. So here goes.

When I was a little girl, I was always into drawing and painting––just creating in general. I lived for art class. l loved learning about different media, how they worked and what you could do to push their limits. Math and science REALLY were not my thing. I even liked shop class (that’s right, electric, wood and metal shop) because it gave me the opportunity to work in media that wasn’t considered “art”. I think this is were I get my interest in the technical aspects of what I do.

Being the good Jersey girl that I am, I also had a HUGE interest in jewelry. When I was twelve I had a paper route and I would save my money so that I could buy myself something sparkley from Fortunoff’s. God I loved that store. At twelve I already knew my stones , cuts and which carat weights of gold meant what. I remind you this was BEFORE internet. I learned it all from a Service Merchandise catalog.

When I was fifteen we moved to Maryland. I left my beloved Fortunoff’s behind. Living in Montgomery County, I had the opportunity to be a part of a magnet art program where I spent half of my day in a focused art program. At this point I knew I was destined for a career in an art field. Math and science... still not my thing.

In that magnet program, I prepared a portfolio that would get me into the Maryland Institute College of Art. Being practical and knowing I would someday need to support myself and pay back that HUGE student loan, I entered the Visual Communications Department where I received my BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration graduating in 1994.

While in school I interned for James Yang, an amazing illustrator, who gave me his AIGA directory when I graduated. I sent out about 100 resumes to all the art directors in the Baltimore area in that book as well as Illustration samples to various publication across the States. Not too may nibbles as I was up against all of my classmates doing the same. I did get one call back. Ann Dudrow from RTKL called and ask me to send samples. This was my break. She too was trained as an illustrator. RTKL didn’t do traditional print so it was never on the radar screen of my peers. They do however do something even more intriguing. Environmental Graphic Design. I had no idea what it was, but I needed a job so I took it.

Thirteen plus years later, I’m still at RTKL doing environmental graphics, which as it turns out is a mix of signage design, sculpture and interior design as it pertains to architecture. Who knew. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel the world and see places I would never have seen before if it wasn’t them.

It is this large scale 3-D work with RTKL that re-sparked my interest in jewelry design and the opportunity to build something that can be interacted with on a personal scale. Elisa Shere (also a member of B.E.S.T. and the first person to befriend me for life when I moved to Maryland), introduced me to the idea of jewelry/metal smithing. I started taking classes and really enjoyed being able to fabricate my own designs and work with the materials myself rather than turning it over to a sign fabricator... plus, I get to play with a torch which is really cool.

It’s kind of funny but I truly believe that all we experience in life influences what we do. I feel like I am coming full circle to where I started. My love of art has translated into an exciting career where I get to travel to exotic places and design things that get built (by the way, this is were those shop classes came in handy). Now I get to make jewelry, my long time childhood obsession. Luckily, my husband (Steve) has been very supportive of my new hobby, he even tolerates me being in "the man cave".

All that I have seen and experienced on my travels has effected the way I see the world and incorporate those experiences into my designs. I look forward to the challenges of making that next piece which is a step beyond the last. Always moving forward learning new techniques and ways to manipulate the materials pushing them a little further each time... in some cases making some really horrible mistakes that you’ll never see but I’ll learn from.

I’m really excited about being a part of B.E.S.T. and all the amazing crafts women that are coming together to make it happen. More experiences to add to the creativity pot.


Yummy & Company said...

great blog girlie! see ya on the 2nd!

averagejen said...

i love tools, too! be proud!