Meet October Artist of the Month: Lauren Markley

We’re excited to introduce you to October’s Featured Artist of the Month, Lauren Markley! Often inspired by her immediate surroundings, Lauren combines traditional metalsmithing with alternative techniques to create her unique jewelry, each piece a study in architecture, history and memory.

Read Lauren’s interview below, and join us on Friday, October 8, from 5:30-8:00 PM for a trunk show of her work! You’ll have the opportunity to meet Lauren and shop some of her newest pieces. You can register for the trunk show at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lauren-markley-trunk-show-tickets-172908523047?aff=BL.

What is your artistic background?

I grew up in an artistic household but don’t have any formal training. I used to do a lot of drawing and some painting, just as a hobby. I discovered metalsmithing later in life. Making jewelry also started as a hobby, but quickly grew into an obsession, then a career.

What are your favorite materials to work with/types of items to make?

I love fabricating with sterling silver – I could solder pieces together all day long and not get bored. Now I do a good amount of enameling as well. I gravitate toward sculptural, architectural shapes and particularly enjoy making brooches. Brooches are like little, one-off sculptures that can be worn.

From where do you draw your inspiration?

Much of my inspiration comes from architecture and buildings. I love modern structures with lots of odd angles and unexpected spaces. To me, they convey the future, full of possibilities and surprises. Conversely, I also get a lot of inspiration from crumbling, abandoned structures that hold so much history, intention, and memory.

What is your creative process like?

My work is very improvisational. I might start with a few loose sketches and dimensions, and I sometimes make paper maquettes, but I don’t plan every last detail precisely. I like the problem-solving aspect of working like this. It forces me to come up with creative solutions. Sometimes, I do kick myself, though, and think “I really should have planned this out more carefully!” 

What is the most rewarding thing about your practice?

The biggest reward for me is that I get to spend my time doing what I love and expressing myself through the medium of jewelry. It is hard work keeping up with all the aspects of running a jewelry business, but it’s ultimately very satisfying.

And what challenges do you face as an artist?

Time management is a huge challenge for me. I have to be very diligent about structuring my day efficiently, and I’m not always the best at that. Also, and I think every artist or maker feels this way at some point, but self-confidence can be pretty difficult to come by sometimes. Especially with social media, it’s easy to see other Instagram feeds, for example, and think “Why am I not that productive/creative/organized/etc…?”

Outside of your practice, do you do any other creative activities/what are your interests?

I rediscovered dance a few years ago and have been taking several classes a week since then. It saved my sanity during the worst of the pandemic lockdowns to be able to take classes in my living room via Zoom!

Tell us about your favorite artist or artists that inspire you.

Louise Bourgeois is one of my all-time favorites. Her work is so dark and introspective and intriguing. She worked across so many different media and formats, but her work is always distinctly hers. I also recently discovered a print maker named Mana Aki. She works in rural Japan and does wood block printing, using a traditional type of paper that is made locally. Although she uses these traditional methods and materials, her work is very modern, abstract with bold colors and lines. I mentioned that I grew up in an artistic household. My mom, Anita Markley, is an artist who got a degree in print making. She mostly works now in collage and produces bold, colorful pieces with strong architectural lines. Her work is full of details, and it’s fun to just stare at a piece trying to find all the little clues to her life and travels and how she sees the world. 

You can find Lauren at www.laurenmarkleyjewelry.com and @laurenmarkley on Instagram.