Artist INC: Sheridan Conrad
November 19, 2013
(interview by romy owens)
Q: What five words would you use to describe your art?
A: jewelry, unique, metalsmithing, quality and timeless.
Q: What do you create as an artist?
A: As an artist I create pieces of jewelry that are meaningful works of art which will become heirlooms.
Q: Why do you do what you do?
A: It is a passion. I believe that art is as important in my life as the air that I breathe.
Q: How has your practice changed over time?
A: I specialize in helping my customers express their love, caring and longevity in their relationships by creating custom jewelry. I have made personal wedding rings, such as ones with chickadee birds for two ornithologists to commemorate when they saw their first bird together, fingerprint wedding bands, and a dragon and unicorn ring holding a ruby. Although I love making special heirloom pieces of jewelry for others and will continue this path, I am now focusing on meaningful works without a specific customer in mind. These new works of art may or not be commercial successes, but for me success will be measured by my own sense of personal satisfaction.
Q: Is there a style/movement/period of art with which you most identify?
A: Yes. I have always loved the art nouveau movement with its strongly feminine energy and sensual lines. My mentor, dead years before I was born, was Rene Lalique. I was ecstatic to see a show of his work years ago at the Kimbell Museum in Texas.
Q: Will you describe a real life situation that inspired you?
A: In college I enrolled in a dance class alongside dance majors, and I was horrible. Lucky for me, the instructor was going through a divorce and she gave me her wedding ring to melt down to make her a ring. I no doubt received extra credit, and I passed with a B. That moment was pivotal, as I discovered that making jewelry had many more benefits than extra credit. I also bartered for haircuts, dental care, art and other necessities. I still enjoy this exchange.
Q: Do you have any other jobs in addition to being an artist? If yes, how does that affect your artistic practice?
A: I teach jewelry classes throughout the week in my studio, and I have discovered that my students are often my teachers. One day I was showing students how to turn on and off the propane/oxygen tank. First you turn the propane on and then the oxygen. To turn it off, you turn the oxygen off first and then the propane. One student said “POOP”. I said “Excuse me?” She replied “propane, oxygen, oxygen, propane, POOP.” I think that was brilliant! It has been said you teach to learn – and I couldn’t agree more.
Q: Do you believe there is an artistic look on life?
A: Yes, I do. For some, it comes naturally. I strongly believe the artistic spirit needs to be nourished and cultivated in our society, and most importantly, valued.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome as an artist?
A: The hardest challenge is the question of balance. I am pulled in two different directions, the demands of running a business versus being true to myself as an artist. Understanding the balance of commercial success verses my own personal artistic success is critical. It is an art to learn how to juggle these two extremes.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given to date?
A: My parents told me that I could not be an artist as it was a hobby, not an occupation. I was bound and determined to prove them wrong. Sometimes advice you strongly disagree with can propel you in the opposite direction – and in my case – the right direction.
Q: What is your dream project right now?
A: I am excited about using the gallery as a platform for social issues, using metalsmithing techniques to convey these thoughts. For example, I am preparing to do a show in November 2014, which will be a social commentary on women and I am eager to see what will develop.
Q: Can you name three artists in your field that you’d be proud to be compared to?
A: Rene Lalique, Harold O’Connor and Thomas Mann
Q: What role do you think an artist has in society?
A: We are scribes; as art represents culture during specific periods of time. Art is the language of our culture.
Q: How can you be contacted?
Twenty-five Oklahoma artists are meeting once a week for 8 weeks as part of the Artist INC Live OKC program. Artist INC is a cutting edge training program that addresses the specific business needs and challenges of artists. The course culminates with each artist presenting for 5 minutes about their work on November 19 at 6 pm, incorporating the skills learned during the program. More info at www.ArtistSurvivalKit.org.