ARTIST INTERVIEWS: Gabriela Artigas
Gabriela Artigas & Company is a modern jewelry line founded in 2003 by Mexico City natives, Gabriela and Teresita Artigas. Designed and hand-crafted in Los Angeles, California, each collection is a natural extension of the lives and personalities of the two sisters, and explores the theme of contrast through shape, form or function. Bold architectural pieces are touched with delicate details, geometric lines are enlivened with organic curves, precious metals are punctuated with a trace of semi-precious stones.
We spoke to designer Gabriela about her creative process. Gabriela finds beauty and wonder in the everyday and the familiar. Though she sources her diamonds and precious stones from all over the world, it’s the people closest to her, and her immediate surroundings, that most inspire her – not to mention her beloved dogs Harry and Girl.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now. Did you take any big risks to get where you are?
I think when you don’t know for sure what will happen, then that’s a risk. However, when something remains in your mind – especially when it comes to your career – then I always say it is worth taking that risk. I always knew I wanted to design but it wasn’t until a chance encounter that I decided to leap forward and start Gabriela Artigas & CO. In 2003 my mother and I came to LA to visit my brother, Alex, who was studying architecture here. During our stay, we went to downtown LA and bought some beads. Whilst at Joan’s On Third, I held up a string of beads that I had just made into a necklace to show my mother. As I did so, this woman walked by and said, “I love your necklace! Where did you buy it? Are you a designer?” Before I could say anything my mother chimed in and said, “Yes, she is!” That was the first time I sold a piece of jewelry. I am grateful to that lady for being my first customer and for helping me realize my dream.
Where do you see your work going in the next couple of years?
From a design perspective, I want to continue to create jewelry that our customers love and continue to wear. Producing collections that are relevant yet timeless is at the cornerstone of Gabriela Artigas & CO’s approach to design. From a business perspective, my sister, Tere, and I have ambitious plans. We want to continue to grow our business and establish ourselves as a global brand, but we also want to scale everything we do in such a way that still allows us time to connect with our customer and provide a level of service that can’t be matched anywhere. Tere and I will often do 1:1 customer appointments out of our showroom on La Cienega, and many of our pieces are still custom and made to order. Retaining that personal customer connection is so important to me. I have a very clear picture of who the Gariela Artigas & CO customer is and what her lifestyle is like and that continuously inspires my designs.
What are your most important artistic tools?
I always have a large selection of colored pens everywhere I go. I have a handful in my bag and a large pot of them on my desk and I use them to sketch out my designs and other things that inspire me whether I’m in the showroom or on the go.
What do you do, or where do you go to seek fresh ideas or renewed creative energy?
I love visiting museums, particularly anything to do with history and anthropology. Museo Nacional de Antropología and Museo Nacional de Historia: Castillo de Chapultepec are among my favorite places to visit when I’m in in Mexico City and want to feel renewed creative energy.
Did you have any artists or creative people in your family? If so, how did they influence you?
I am continually inspired by my family. My grandfather, Francisco Artigas was a modernist architect and his clean aesthetic permeates our collections. I am also influenced by my grandmother, who always dressed very classically and elegantly but who would punctuate her look with a deep green, beetle-shape ring. It was such an unexpected contrast that still remains with me to this day. I love to explore the theme of juxtaposition when it comes to my jewelry designs. I will take a heavily molded cuff, for example, and suddenly taper it into a sharp tusk with pave diamonds to balance out the masculinity of the piece. My sister is a constant source of inspiration because she is the perfect counterpart to me. I am dreamy and whimsical by nature whereas Tere is attentive and focused. Not only do these different qualities help when it comes to running a business together but I also like to explore the theme of duality in my collections.
What other artist currently working do you admire?
Right now, I love Doug Aitken. He has an exhibition at MOCA that features moving image installations as well as his collages, drawings and sculptures. It is a must-visit!
What is so special about making art NOW, in our hectic digital age?
Everything moves at such a pace these days and things are constantly changing, however, a great piece of art will truly stand the test of time. That’s the approach I try to take when it comes to our jewelry. It isn’t about what is trending right now — it’s about creating a piece that will be relevant and enjoyed forever.
What do you hope to share with those who purchase your art and bring it intimately into their lives?
There is something so special about heirloom jewelry and passing pieces down from one generation to another. I want to recreate that ritual when it comes to Gabriela Artigas & CO. Our jewelry is an investment for people to treasure for many, many years to come.