Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Artist Spotlight : Grace Lee

Just in time for the holidays... stop by the Main Museum Shop this Saturday, December 7th to meet some of our artists and see their latest designs in person!

Our Multi-Vendor Trunk Show will feature handmade, semi-precious jewelry and accessories by Grace Lee of Gemi-Precious and Julie Booma of Atelier Po├ęsi, and embellished handbags and clutches by Mary Frances of Mary Frances Accessories.  In addition, Amber by Vessel will be showcasing their original jewelry designs December 5th through December 7th.  

Please join us, from Noon-4pm.

We've been fortunate enough to have had Grace from Gemi-Precious participate in past Trunk Shows.  She has a keen sense of color and composition, creating one-of-a-kind pieces each time.  In preparation for the upcoming Trunk Show, she was generous enough to share some of what inspires her designs.  Let's get to know Grace from Gemi-Precious a little better!

How did you get started?

I really owe my career as a designer to my mother and partner in business, Jane Lee, who has been making jewelry since I was a child. I had absolutely no formal training in jewelry design whatsoever. I mean, I graduated college with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing! However, I really do consider that what she has taught me in the past 14 years is much more valuable to me than what I could have learned at any design institution or classroom. I really owe it all to her.

What inspires your jewelry?

So many things inspire our work. For me, everything from what I see on a daily basis- what people are wearing on the street. I love living in the city because there are so many stylish people here in Chicago. I can spot great style going for a morning coffee run in Wicker Park or at any restaurant in the West Loop having a late weeknight dinner. I lived in NYC for many years where street style has always played a great part in fashion. I love seeing what other people are wearing and how they are putting things together. Even if it's not particularly my style, I just love to see what people have on. It's like looking into their lives. You can tell a lot about a person by what kind of necklace she is wearing. And of course, I have to say that my travels inspire my designs. I love Europe and I especially love how European women wear accessories, particularly Parisians. French women have a way of making accessories look so effortless, whether it's a large statement piece they pair with a casual outfit or layering simple chains with an evening gown. When I travel to Europe, I always come home with a notebook full of ideas.There is a reason why Paris is the epicenter of fashion. 

Does Chicago influence your designs? 

Absolutely. Not only the stylish people here, but we have so much beauty and design in our city. Our architecture is such a big part of our city. I love the modernism here that is harmonized with the old-school aesthetic of our city's history. Essentially, that is the foundation of what we do with our jewelry- combine natural stones and add a twist of modern element. When it comes to our pieces, we always say that our designs are influenced by 50% fashion and 50% what is around us. 

Who is your favorite artist?

That is a difficult question to answer. There are so many. I grew up in a musical household so the first art I was exposed to was classical music. I can't live without music. When we are beading necklaces in our studio, there is always an opera or a Mozart piano concerto in the background. And I have been playing the cello since I was 8 years old so I am going to say my favorite artist of all time is Ludwig Van Beethoven. Beethoven and Prince!

What makes you the happiest?

I love my work of course but when I am not in my showroom or office, I am all about family. I love just hanging out with my husband. Cooking dinner at home, a glass of wine in hand, a Mars Volta album blasting. I'm pretty simple so what makes me the happiest? In a nutshell, my husband, good food and wine, going for a nice long run when I can, a good book at the end of a long day, heavy metal music, and an amazing trip overseas.

Do you have any style advice for wearing jewelry? 

Yes. Don't overdo the jewelry. If you want to go big and bold, tone everything else down. A statement piece should not be fighting for attention with an overpowering outfit. Think simplicity. If you are longing to wear a large necklace, tone down the earrings. As an audience, it is extremely hard to focus on your big and bold necklace when you are wearing equally large drop earrings. Also, one of my pet-peeves is the whole matchy-matchy thing. If you are opting to wear a beautiful coral necklace, pair it with a small gold hoop earring or stud instead of looking for a coral earring to match. Wear jewelry and wear it well, but don't let it wear you. Above all, have fun with it! Be creative, be an individual, be YOU. 

Thanks Grace!

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