This week's blog was written by mosaic jewelry artist June Martin of MOTH & TWIG.
I have worn many hats during my 50 (cough, cough) something years on this planet and I’ve enjoyed wearing them all. I feel humbled and happy that I’m able to make a living as an artist at this time in my life. As a young child I spent inordinate amounts of time drawing. For whatever reason, paper wasn’t readily available, most likely because we were quite poor after our father passed away suddenly, so I used to draw on the corners of the TV guide. My father was an artist and a toymaker so I guess my interest in art came from him since my mother, god rest her soul, didn’t have an artistic bone in her body!
Throughout my childhood art was an avenue to express myself. I predominantly drew people and fashion though I was also attracted to drawing houses that had fallen into disrepair as I loved the textures and sense of history. I dabbled in water color as well and I remember my middle school art teacher framing one of my pieces and hanging it in the school commons for all to see. I dreamt of growing up and being a full-time artist but my step-father, armed with good intentions and a propensity towards the practical, suggested that I learn to type and take shorthand, just in case art didn’t work out.
In college I majored in art…for a while at least. I later switched my major which resulted in two undergraduate degrees; one in psychology and the other in biological anthropology. I continued to study and practice art including screen printing. I worked a few secretarial jobs in San Francisco until I landed a job working as a production manager for a small clothing manufacturer. With my interest in fashion design this job blossomed into a career.
Life happened along the way. I was married, had a child, then I wasn’t married and found myself in the unenviable position of being a single working parent. Though I had a creative job, other artistic endeavors were put on the back burner while I busied myself with supporting my son.
Years passed, and though I was happy working in fashion, I knew that the company I was working for was being sold to a couple in Chicago. The new owners asked if I would be interested in moving to Chicago to work for them but the thought of moving my son to a different state as well as having to endure long cold winters was not appealing. I found myself out of a job after 17 years but also found myself in the position of being able to choose to do something new if I desired. Before embarking on new work adventures, I decided to take a little time to travel. My son left home for college, I was “between jobs" so off to Barcelona Spain I went! I only spent a month in Spain but it was enough to fill my soul with the beauty the city provided in the form of art and architecture. In particular, I was enthralled by the works of Antoni Gaudi.
Upon returning to San Francisco, I found that there was an excellent mosaic instructor living in the warehouse space that I also lived in. I knew I had found my niche in art. During this time I also earned an MS in counseling psychology and started working in the mental health field but I kept doing mosaic for fun. I was also dabbling in jewelry design. It was during this time that I took a class in micro- mosaic with a focus on jewelry. I found I had a knack for working small scale. I knew micro-mosaic and jewelry design was for me. I continued to work as a therapist while keeping mosaic and jewelry as a hobby. Since I don’t wear a lot of jewelry myself, I wasn’t sure what to do with all of the mosaic jewelry pieces I was making. I discovered Etsy and decided to give it a go. To my surprise, people seemed to like my jewelry. How much fun is that?! Creating art you love and then getting paid for it!
A few years passed and we (my new husband and I) moved to Portland where my son also lives. Overall, Portland has been very kind to us and what started as a hobby and side job, has turned into a full-blown thriving business. I continue to work in mental health on the side but I create art full time. Though the path was non-linear, I am back to my roots of making art. I think both my father and step-father would be proud.