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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Inspired by Illustration: An interview with jewellery designer Annabelle Lucilla

Jewellery designer Annabelle Lucilla has been creating illustrations since childhood: here she tells us why she decided to pursue a career in jewellery design, her design process and the importance of social media in building a career.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Annabelle Lucilla by Laura Hickman
Annabelle Lucilla by Laura Hickman.

I first ran across the beautiful illustrated etched designs of Annabelle Lucilla at the One Year On exhibition at New Designers 2013, and her work instantly caught my eye. When it turned out that she knew me from using social media an instant rapport was born. Here Annabelle talks us through her inspiration and design process: and explains why you must never underestimate the power of online networking in building your career in the creative industries.

Annabelle Lucilla hovering hummingbird design
Annabelle Lucilla: hovering hummingbird design.

When did you start to combine your love of illustration and jewellery to create ‘Metallic Graphics’, and how did it all start out?
I have always drawn intricately; my mum is an illustrator so I acquire that from her. I started to create jewellery when I was around 13, but I didn’t combine these two techniques until I was in my 2nd year of my Jewellery and Silversmithing degree. I initially set out to study Surface Pattern design at London College of Fashion. However, I felt like I could always come back to textile design, after I had learnt a technical skill that would set me apart from others. Discovering etching was a ‘bingo’ moment for me as I was always chasing after the idea of making an illustration into a wearable, permanent object, which had character and form. My Illustrations started out as large ‘motif’ stories, and then I created certain singular characters to go in the story. They are based around mythical tales, ancient cultures and lands and symbolism.

Annabelle Lucilla Jewellery by Daniel Alexander
Annabelle Lucilla Jewellery by Daniel Alexander.

What was the best thing about studying at Sir John Cass?
I very much enjoyed my 3 years of study at the Cass, especially being able to explore a wide range of processes and techniques. Most of all I was allowed to find my niche aesthetic, as many find that difficult when producing their final degree collection. I was quite sure about what I wanted my collection to look like, as well as what techniques I wanted to combine. I was given the opportunity to take part in a range of competitions and selling opportunities which helped me learn about creating a commercial collection. I also worked with a wide range of materials and finishes, such as resin, horn, aluminium, leather, rubber, powder coating, anodizing and not forgetting etching!

Annabelle Lucilla Jewellery, Peacock necklace
Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your first major collection?
My debut collection, Oriental Embodiments is very decadent, yet classical. There are definite hints of Ancient Grecian and Indian patternation and form. I got a lot of inspiration from looking at Indian bodily adornment, and how they decorate every part of their bodies in jewels and chains and droplets. I wanted to reinvent some traditional techniques such as Filigree and stone setting, and so I contemporized and refined them to give them a modern feel. The collection features etched, hollow Peacocks, which originate from my hand drawn illustration. This was the connection to India, and they have a very regal, majestic aura, which I wanted the collection to reflect. I juxtaposed these curvilinear forms with geometric forms to give a sense of balance and modernity.

Annabelle Lucilla Jewellery by Zo Bevan
Annabelle Lucilla Jewellery by Zo Bevan.

How do you envisage your jewellery been worn?
The purpose of my debut commercial collection was to give the consumer a more wearable version of the large, decadent items I made for my degree collection. I want my jewellery to be worn as everyday staple accessories, with an added hint of glamour and luxury. The designs I created were envisaged to be worn by all ages, not one particular group of people. The collection consists of some classical, dainty earrings, large statement necklaces and cool, contemporary rings and bracelets.

Annabelle Lucilla Jewllery, Gold Oriental Peacock Earrings
What did you learn on the Crafts Council Hot House programme?
This programme was an amazing experience. Subjects ranged from making a business plan to pricing your product correctly. From learning about how to plan financially for the year ahead, to learning about what your work is all about and then in turn who your target market is. What was helpful was that it was spread over 6 months, and tailored directly to your specific practice. You could improve your business as the course progressed. I met so many wonderful people, and having my Hot House ‘Buddy’ Imogen Belfield was so much help, as I could have regular meetings to go over aspects of my business. Overall, it is a programme I would wholly recommend to anyone wanting to start or improve their business.

Annabelle Lucilla by Annabel Dover
Annabelle Lucilla by Annabel Dover.

Which other creatives do you recommend we should check out?
I would recommend people to take a look at Sophie Harley’s jewellery. She is someone I admire greatly, and who creates exquisite, storytale pieces. I love that there is real meaning behind her designs, and people always connect with her designs for this reason.

Oriental Peacock Earrings Annabelle Lucilla Hastings
What is it like working at Cockpit Arts?
Cockpit Arts is a fantastic collection of designers and makers. Being part of a large community makes you feel like there is always someone to help you if you need advice. It is a wonderful start for me as I only launched my business in January 2013, and the collection was finished in April and so having a professional studio to go to and work makes all the difference when you want to be taken seriously with your profession. The Open Studios in June and November are great selling opportunities, as the public is brought to you, and they are fascinated to see the designers in their working studios.

Annabelle Lucilla Jewllery Silver Oriental Peacock Necklace
You’ve already done extremely well; securing loads of awards and bursaries in a very short time period. What are your top tips for gaining recognition as a new independent jeweller?
I would recommend entering lots of design competitions, and to try and be part of larger organisations, as these can help spread your name for you. Nothing happens instantly, but collectively, each achievement will help people recognise your brand. Social media platforms are also great for reaching a wider audience, so plan to tweet or share news on facebook everyday, as regular comments and posts help more people find you. Also, Social Media is what it is, ‘Social’ so interact with people, and make connections. Lastly, be original, and find your unique selling point that will keep your designs fresh and instinctively associated with your brand.

Annabelle Lucilla Jewllery Purple Agate Necklace with tassels
What next?
I am very much looking forward to exhibiting at International Jewellery London this week, which will officially launch my debut collection. This is the largest show I have done so far, so it will be good to show my collection to such a wide range of retailers, buyers and stockists from the U.K. and abroad. I am launching a few new etched designs in late September, so keep a look out for that. I am also showing at London Fashion Week as part of a collective with one of my online stockists, Wonsuponatime, which I am very much looking forward to. I am also taking on a few more established online stockists in the next few months. Christmas is going to be busy, with the Cockpit Arts Open Studios in November. I will also be exhibiting as part of an exciting curated exhibition about ‘the diverse and eclectic cultural influences present within the British craft scene‘ in the new year.

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