ARTIST INTERVIEW: Hortense Bonneau of Hortense Jewelry
Hortense is a Fine Jewelry designer from Paris, France. She moved to California 8 years ago where she completed the Alan Revere Jewelry School in 2004 in San Francisco. Hortense started her own fine jewelry business 10 years ago and has been featured in several famous stores in Paris such as Colette and Le Bon Marche and also in San Francisco at stores such as Dish, Erica Tanov, and Ab Fit. In the last three years, her collections have been sold in far more stores throughout the U.S, Australia, Japan, Europe: OK boutique in Los Angeles, Catbird in New York… all these to name a few.
Do you have a favorite creation, artwork, or design of your own?
I do have this design that I like very much: “The Majorette” earrings. One day while I was driving to the studio and as I was stuck in traffic and I suddenly had this sort of “flash” and started to ask to my self: “and what if I take a piece of solid gold wire and on one side I add a white cultured pearl and a dark grey cultured pearl on the other side”. This was just before the Echo Park Fair 4 years ago. I always design new pieces for each Echo Park Fair and the Majorette was part of it and sold out in 1 Day. This is how this design started and ended up in Vogue, Elle, Into the Gloss, WWD, Refinery29… and recently on Emma Watson. These earrings are available at Catbird, Mohawk General Store, Bluboho and on our website.
How do you define success in your art or craft, or alternately, what does failure mean to you?
I define success in my art as the smile on women’s faces at the Echo Park Fair trying my pieces. One day a woman purchased a pair of earrings and came back the next day and told me: “I feel so special since I have these earrings”. It meant the world to me. I also define success in my art when people take the time to send you an email to thank you.
Failure is super important, almost more important than success because you learn that the design that you made is not what people want from you. It’s hard of course but it’s important first for the ego!! To stay humble! Also it helps you to design something that people really want. You learn from your mistakes. Failures help you to go into the right direction.
Did you have any artists or creative people in your family? If so, how did they influence you?
My mother used to design purses and sold a couple of her designs to Hermès, Barney’s and Takashimaya New York. She is a real artist. She did the school Les Beaux Arts in Paris and worked for the sculptors Fernando Botero and Cesar. I understood that it was possible to design for other companies at a very young age because of my mother. She also showed me how to stay simple in my designs.
What is a new idea you have been working with recently?
I am currently working on the New Collection. This time I had this desire to make bigger earrings in solid gold and silver. I can say that the Chopsticks earrings will be part of these bigger earrings. I am also working on the “Mobile” earrings inspired by the artist Alexander Calder and other surprises.
What would you say is the driving force behind your creative work?
I have had a passion for jewelry since I was 5 years old. I used to travel a lot with my Dad, and I remember a trip to Florence where I asked him to go inside each jewelry store. I wanted him to purchase every single ring for me. He got me one ring, and I still remember how it looked, unfortunately this ring was stolen. I sometimes think that I should re do it! 🙂 I don’t know why but when I close my eyes jewelry designs are what I see…I love the creativity, the sparkle, the look on a happy customer’s face…these are the things that drive me, and I am passionate about creating beautiful pieces of jewelry. So this very strong passion I would say is my driving force.