Designer Interview: starcrossed lovelies
"starcrossed lovelies is a jewelry and accessories brand for celestial love stories. our pieces are for magical girls, dreamers, witches and lovers." -starcrossed lovelies website
We sat down with Christen, the designer of jewelry brand starcrossed lovelies, to chat about her new brand and influences. starcrossed lovelies is one of our new vendors for 2021 and we're excited to see more from this brand!
What got you interested in creating jewelry and starting a brand?
I’ve always been a very self-motivated person with a lot of ideas – too many, in fact. I believe I told my mother in kindergarten that I wanted to grow up to be a ballerina-princess-artist-astronomer, so I suppose starcrossed lovelies is a way for me to combine some of those dreams in a way that I find meaningful and exciting.
I’ve always loved to draw and paint and craft ever since I was very young. In the house I grew up in, our basement was called “the craft room” and it had a work bench with tons of different mediums for me to play with whenever I wanted to. I have a lot of memories of being up late at night glueing glitter and feathers on things or making stuff for my Barbies to wear. I knew I wanted to do something with art when I grew up, and originally my plan was to work in film. I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute and I majored in Animation, but my artistic journey didn’t end up leading me out to LA to work at a studio like I had planned. I discovered Lolita fashion in college and I got really involved in the community, which eventually lead to my partnership with several other KCAI grads who helped to develop Paradiso, the annual JFashion gala event we host here in Kansas City.
I think that I’ve always wanted the opportunity to be able to make work for others to appreciate and enjoy, and jewelry is a very tangible medium for that. When you choose to wear a piece of jewelry, you’re choosing part of how you want to portray yourself for that day, and as an artist it’s a direct way to display your work in front of other viewers without being confined to a gallery space which is really convenient! I wanted to take some of the skills I’d learned in college and find a new way to repurpose them, so I think that had been in the back of my mind for a while. I’ve talked many times with friends about wanting to be self employed or have my own business, and 2020 gave me the time I needed to reflect on what that vision meant and how I could personally achieve that in my own way. I think I was finally in the right place to actually do something about this particular dream and invest the time and attention into it to make it happen.
Where do you find inspiration?
I love stories, particularly tragic romance stories! I’ve always been very into media with strong heroine characters, and so a lot of my inspiration comes from magical girls or other female leading roles. The Rose of Versailles, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Sailor Moon and Princess Tutu are very close to my heart, but I also really love other story formats besides anime. I would say I draw a lot of inspiration from ballet as well, particularly Giselle and Swan Lake. I’ve also always been fascinated by space, so motifs like stars and moons and other astronomical related imagery make me happy and I want to be able to share that love with other people who feel the same.
What does your work aim to convey?
I think that I have a few core beliefs that I want to try to share with my work. I want people to be able to find a sense of wonder and magic in every day life, and within themselves. I also really want to focus my attention on the love between many types of partners, not just romantic love. Growing up in the 90’s, there were a lot of movies and shows and even products that centered around best friends, and I want to bring back some of that nostalgia in my jewelry.
How has your artistic practice changed over the years?
In highschool most of my artwork was digital illustration that I offered on a commission basis. I did a lot of character reference sheets and character art illustrations, and that’s originally what I thought I wanted to do as a career. I went to KCAI to pursue animation and character design, and then I fell in love with the experimental process of stop motion animation, and I explored a lot of different sculptural mediums during that time. During my time at college, I also learned about 3D modeling as part of my animation curriculum and although I thought I’d never use that knowledge again, I’m now making my jewelry using those processes! It’s so funny how skills like that can end up being useful when you never expected them to be.
What is your artistic process like?
I’m constantly consuming media these days, and so I’m always saving pictures of pretty things. I actually kept a tumblr blog for a few years that I used as an image dump for things that either made me happy or were thought provoking, and so I often dig through those pages sometimes when I’m looking for ideas or even when I just need a pick me up. Once I have an idea I like, I start sketching it out. I usually have more than one idea at a time, so getting them out on paper helps me keep track of all the things I want to do and make as well as all of the considerations I’ve already had while laying in bed and thinking about how I want something to look in the end. After I’ve got some sketches I like, I usually go back to the computer to find more references and do some materials research to make sure that if there are any items that I can’t make myself, I can find them to use later. Once that’s all done, I open up Blender and Tinkercad to start building my 3D models. Depending on what I’m trying to make, I also may use Illustrator to help me make some needed vectors. Then, when I’ve got a model ready, it’s time to test, test, and then test some more. I currently 3D print all of my items at home, so it can take several tries to make sure that the prints come out clean, the correct size, and the correct color. I mix all of my resin colors by hand, and it can take me a few tries to get to the color I’m imagining in my head, so I end up with a lot of “test” prints laying all over the house in wrong colors. I’m not sure what to do with all of those yet – right now they live in a box that I call my print graveyard.
Once I’m happy with the print and the color and everything else, then it’s time to sand them, spray them with UV protector and other clear coats, add rhinestones and connect them to jewelry findings to make them into wearable art.
Which tools do you use the most?
Although I build a lot of my designs in Blender, a lot of the adjustments and final touches happen in Tinkercad. I really like how clean the interface is and how quickly I can do simple tasks. I’m constantly using my resin printer, and of course the resin to go in the machine. I would also be completely lost without all of my pairs of tweezers that I use for setting gems and cleaning up prints!
What do you hope to do in 2022?
I’m definitely hoping to be able to attend an in-person event in 2022 to try selling items at an artist alley or something similar for the first time. I’m also really interested in designing some fabric prints and other accessories in the future – not just jewelry. My sketchbook is already full of things that I want to get done but haven’t had the time to work on yet, particularly some Revolutionary Girl Utena inspired pieces that I’m really excited about!
Thanks for sharing with us, Christen!
Find more of her work: