ARTIST INTERVIEW: Caroline Kim of Rebel & Quill
Rebel & Quill, former New York-based jewelry brand turned design studio, is now based in Echo Park, Los Angeles. Designer and metalsmith Caroline Kim focuses on making functional art and is inspired by artifacts, relics, and shape study. She uses wax techniques and hand fabrication in all her handmade brass objects.
Founded by Caroline Kim in 2013, each artifact and object of Rebel & Quill is passionately hand crafted in her Echo Park, Los Angeles studio. She instantly fell in love with the art of creating, driven by her desire to transform any raw material into something beautiful and unique. While she prides herself on her meticulous detail oriented design her enigmatic rough-soft combination has become her signature. She admires functionality and art combined to create objects for the home. Most of her pieces are made in brass metal and come in various different finishes.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now.
I’ve been in the jewelry industry now for about 8 years working for bigger corporate companies and one day I felt the need to start my own line as I was unhappy with what I was making/designing for these companies. I started Rebel and Quill about 3-4 years ago and am so happy with the decision I have made. It’s an artistic creative outlet for me to really just create what I want to create and not have someone else tell me other wise.
I could not afford to quit my full time as a jewelry designer so I ended up working after my 9-5 in my studio. I had long late night hours and it was endless. I will never regret it and was happy to do it, even though I rarely got any sleep. You live for your passion and if you love to create, it does not feel like work at all.
What is the first memory you have of encountering art or the artistic process?
Living in New York City in my early 20s up until my early 30s has been such a huge inspiration. That city is full of art, life, and just inspiration all around you. I have definitely shaped my artistic outlook and process while living in NYC. I feel as though I have really developed my sense of style and the work I create from that city. Moving to LA was such breathe of fresh air and it’s been such a different kind of inspiration. I’m surrounded by so many creatives, talented individuals in LA whom I have met recently.
What are you artistic goals for the future? Next week, or next year, or 20 years from now?
I plan to design larger collections in the near future, working into more sculptural art. I went from making jewelry to making home objects and now I feel the need to make furniture or large sculptural pieces. I’ve been also contemplating in going back to making jewelry but more on the custom end, like engagement rings etc. I have too many ideas sometimes its hard to pin one down!
What are your most important artistic tools?
My most important artistic tool is my jewelers bench. I can’t function or create without it. I think every metalsmith or silversmith would say the same! I also need my sketch pad and pen in handy. I love collecting my sketches throughout my craft. You can really see how you have progressed throughout the years from reviewing your past sketches.
How does practicing your art or craft impact your life or way of thinking?
I try to find some form of inspiration for the brand in my everyday life… going to even the grocery store! My perspective has changed so much in the way of living. I’m always finding new practical items that are needed and how can I incorporate brass into that object. I think my work is for the practical people. Hooks and such are daily objects you can use. I also love to travel to different parts of the world. I think it’s so important for my craft to see how people live in such different cultures.
Did you have any artists in your family, mentors, or other important creative influences?
My parents are extremely talented! My dad has always wanted to become an architect, I remember him sketching plans and such for our home he built. He designed it himself and built it despite the fact that he did not have any proper training nor schooling due to financial restrictions. It was incredible because he had so much passion for it. All you really need is passion for any craft.
My mother also never went to school for art, but now she is a talented landscape illustrator/designer. She sits at home all day and sketches and paints all her masterpieces.
Why is it important to you to show and share your work to a larger community?
I truly think that metalsmiths and metal work is not appreciated enough in this creative industry besides jewelry. I want to show the world that there is much more to metalsmithing than just jewelry. You can create almost anything with metal and just appreciate the natural texture, feel, and color of brass.