Hello my loves!
Well, 2022 is already well underway, and I’m excited to update you on some of the changes we’re making this year for Dear Survivor.
2021 was a transitional year for me in my personal creative development. I started the year off with my first request for an engagement ring. Well, I’d had requests for them before, but this was the first time I was ready to say yes. Making someone a ring that they will hopefully wear for the rest of their life is a weighty responsibility, and I didn’t want to take it on until I knew I could execute it to the highest standard. I also started doing ceramic sculpture again, which is a huge component of who I am that’s been lying dormant since I launched Dear Survivor in 2015.
And thus I began working within a beautiful dichotomy: gold and dirt. Earth’s highest and lowest valued natural materials.
I also had a very poignant moment last year when the brevity of life hit me. Cody and I were walking our dog through a cemetery in LA (not visiting any graves, just on a walk through a quiet and green space), and I started reading the dates and epitaphs on the graves. We started our walk near the graves marked 1800s, and moved through more recent decades where fresh flowers were still being left. And I noticed that for the last 200 years, all the graves really said was “Loved Wife/Husband/Daughter/Mother/Aunt/Son”…Nothing about career, accomplishments, accolades, etc.
And as someone who is highly motivated by achievements (I’m an enneagram 3), this shook me. It made me reassess my motivations in life. Am I trying to become the most famous artist and designer in the world? Will I be satisfied with my life if I never “make it”? What does success actually look like for me, personally. Not what other people tell me success looks like.
[side bar: You’re probably thinking either “duh” or “wow thanks for a downer blogpost…”, but this was just a weirdly impactful and beautiful realization for me, so don’t @ me haha, we’re all on a journey.]
This realization made me want to live more in the moment. To enjoy dinner with my friends rather than work late into the night. To take my dog on a long walk and not feel guilty about wasting time. To give myself grace when I don’t feel like I’m measuring up to what other designers are doing.
And as I dwelled on the brevity of my own life…I realized that the two things I do have unusual longevity: jewelry and ceramic. Think about it, what two objects are found at archaeological dig sites? Gold jewelry and ceramics. The two things I do will literally last for centuries.
This day in the cemetery marked a significant shift in my mindset and motivations. It gave me so much energy and enthusiasm to create beautiful, lasting designs. To make objects with intention and integrity that will stand the test of time. To make things so beautiful that it will still be coveted in 200 years.
So what does this mean for Dear Survivor?
This year I’m spending more time on fine jewelry, primarily rings. I’ve had an influx in requests for custom designs and engagement rings in the past month, and I’m really excited to dedicate more time to these pieces. I’m also designing more one-of-a-kind rings that will be ready for purchase on my site. I want each ring to feel like an actual work of art. Not just a diamond on your finger. I’m approaching these designs thinking about overall composition of shape, color, and wearability, rather than the carat size of the stone. I want each unique design to feel like it’s been stolen out of a museum. The method I use to make my rings (hand carving and lost wax casting) is the same technique that’s been used since ancient days, so the process in and of itself lends to a more archaeological vibe, which I absolutely love. Every finished piece is an actual treasure.
Honestly, it feels like the past 10 years of my creative career have led me to this point. I didn’t know this was the direction I was going, but now that I’m here it feels like so many parts of my professional development have clicked into place.
All this to say, thank you for being a part of this journey with me. Your continued support of Dear Survivor over the years has allowed me to get here, and I can’t thank you enough for believing in me.
So cheers to 2022. May it be a year of creating beauty, being kind to ourselves, and loving those around us <3
ps - if you want to see my ceramic sculptural work, follow my personal account @christinehowll on Instagram!