ARTIST INTERVIEW: Mari Beltran of Studio Mari
Company: Studio Mari
Artist: Mari Beltran
Mari Beltran’s fine jewelry consists of sculptural forms and styles that make for timeless pieces with everyday-wear longevity. Studio Mari was founded in 2017 and Mari designs and makes her fine jewelry pieces by hand, working with a local artisan to cast her pieces. Based in L.A. and Ojai, we are honored to showcase her work at the Craft Fair for the first time this December.
The Echo Park Craft Fair is celebrating our 10 year anniversary this Holiday, 2019. Can you speak to how long you’ve been doing the Fair and how the EPCF community has contributed to the evolution of your work and business?
This is my first time at the Echo Park Craft Fair, though I’m familiar with many of the designers that have shown here over the years. I love being included as one of this year’s designers and I’m excited to share my work in person.
Please tell us about the current work you will featuring this Holiday and speak a bit to how you/your work as evolved over the last decade?
I recently started working more with gold. I’ll be sharing those new pieces at the Fair next month. I used to work a lot in bronze, and the first two lines of jewelry I created for Studio Mari were in silver, which is a metal I still love to work with.
This new, gold collection is more subtly nuanced and refined. I wanted to create fine jewelry pieces that work for everyday wear yet still feel elegant. I hope these pieces will be worn for generations to come.
The ethics of production are on our minds a lot recently – questions of sustainability, fair labor, location, and artistic integrity. How do these concepts come into play in your craft and your business? What choices do you make that take into account these ideas?
What’s wonderful about being the designer and maker is that I get to make decisions for my business that are aligned with my values around ethical production, sustainability, and artistic integrity. I work with recycled metals, I have very minimal packaging (a small box) that can be re-used to store other trinkets, and all of my work is based in Los Angeles, which is important to me.
I have a strong relationship with my caster, and when I do outsource my work, it’s to people that I know and can talk with in person. I also give a portion of my proceeds to a local non-profit that provides education and services to individuals with special needs, which is incredibly meaningful to me and my family.
I spend a lot of time designing each piece, so of course I care that the person who buys my jewelry feels like they’re getting something that’s made with intention, is well-made and of value. I work in small quantities, and I’m involved in every piece that’s created. Because of this I understand what goes into building a small business while trying to have minimal adverse effects on the environment and create high-quality objects. These values are central to my work, and I’m happy to be surrounded by, and want to acknowledge, the work and ethical practices of other designers around me.
Can you speak a bit to your process? What inspires your work? What techniques do you use to produce your designs? What is the history behind those techniques, and does that inform how you utilize them in your process?
I work primarily with lost-wax casting, so I work with my hands a lot. I studied architecture and have experience with CAD modeling; some of my designs are a mix of working through ideas and forms in CAD, and then finishing designs by hand, or vice versa.
My work is often inspired by sculpture, most lately by ancient Japanese art forms and sensibilities. I strive for a certain simplicity in my designs that’s still engaging and intentional.
What is your underlying philosophy/core vision for your work? And what impact do you hope your creative work will have on your community?
I hope that my jewelry brings joy to the people who wear it, and that my creative work will allow me to continue to support and invest in my community and the designers and organizations that are doing the immediate, urgent work of caring for others and our environment.