Designer Spotlight: Marlee Cheyanne Watts
A BRIEF STORY OF WHAT YOU DO AND WHY YOU DO IT
I have been making a variety of handmade jewellery and wearable art, specializing in metal work and wire wrapping for the past 6 years. I graduated from The Alberta College of Art + Design with a BFA specializing in Jewellery + Metals in 2013. After graduation I moved to Montreal, putting my degree to use in the belief that my passion could help support me. I moved to Montreal with no French so I knew I would have to be creative in how I would run my business. This is when I started up my first Etsy shop, MarleeCWatts. I now travel between Calgary and Montreal where I sell to numerous shops and take part in local craft sales in both cities. A few months ago I opened my second Etsy shop, NovaMane where I sell crystals to collectors and other jewellery makers. To my delight, my work has been well received and my business continues to grow!
HOW DID YOU GET INTO JEWELRY DESIGN?
In high school I discovered The Alberta College of Art + Design and their Jewellery + Metals program. I had never made jewellery or worked with metal before, but for some reason I knew that was my path. It was a good thing that I excelled in metal working because some find it very tedious and difficult. After graduation I took a brief break from metalsmithing and taught myself a variety of wire wrapping and macramé techniques. Now, I integrate all of these techniques into my current work.
WHAT MAKES YOUR COLLECTION UNIQUE?
My collections showcase a variety of techniques and materials. My work is inspired by two very different cities and the frequent changes in my surroundings. I am also particularly passionate about using unique and raw crystals in my jewellery, which has a great deal to do with my aesthetic. Whatever the style, all my pieces are made with devotion, attention and love.
WHAT ARE YOUR INSPIRATIONS?
Many of my looks allude to primitive culture and fantasy and often possess a ceremonial or ritualistic appearance. My interest with this aesthetic is inspired by my experiences at music festivals. The one closest to my heart is Shambhala, which takes part in Salmo, BC ever year. A large part of the inspiration comes from he tribe-like atmosphere as people come together to celebrate their shared values of positive energy, interconnectedness with nature and their love for music, art and craft. The costumes and adornment at these events are a huge part of what inspire my jewellery and wearable art collections. Raw crystals, neo-tribal tradition, extravagant handmade costumes and body adornments of all kinds inform my design style.
HOW ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE?
By taking a risk in moving to a new city and believing in my passion and myself. Through making those choices I found a more rewarding and fulfilling lifestyle. I have been overwhelmed with the love and support from my partner, friends, family, clients and fellow jewelers. It has opened me up to a new artistic community that has touched my heart. I have flexibility in my life, which allows me to focus more on myself and loved ones. Being self-employed and supporting myself brings me so much gratitude and joy.
WHAT'S SOMETHING UNUSUAL ABOUT YOU THAT MAKES YOU “YOU”?
I grew up as a cowgirl, horseback riding western style for most of my young life. I helped to train horses and worked on a family cattle farm. These unique experiences helped me to develop patience, confidence and self-awareness at a young age. My experiences traveling in India, South East Asia, Europe as well as attending Shambhala also helped to shape me into the open, adaptable and positive person that I am now. I would also have to say my fascination with body modification has a lot to do with who I am and has helped shape my jewellery practice.
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE IN RUNNING YOUR JEWELRY BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS? OR WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS IN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS?
I get to live my dream everyday! I love creating, I love connecting with people and marketing my work. . What makes me feel most successful is chatting with clients. I’m so touched when someone says they love a piece by me and wear it everyday. It touches me when someone loves something so much that I have put passion and dedication into. I don’t think that feeling will ever get old. The biggest struggle for me is not knowing what each day will bring. I depend on the success of my business to allow me to stay in Montreal. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and sometimes it’s hard to balance work with my personal life.
Marlee Cheyanne Watts is a recent graduate from the Alberta College of Art + Design’s Jewellery + Metals program. Originally from Calgary, AB she now resides in Montreal, QC where she continues to develop her businesses. Her practice focuses on the body. This interest in adornment inspires her love for jewellery, wearable art and fashion.