SOPHIE BAILLET/ OLGAJEANNE

4CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your designs, what would it be and why?

SB: I like to think about my design as minimalist, avant-garde and soft: softness which refers both to the use of textile as a basis, and the choice of smooth edges for the geometrical shapes. Rather quietly outstanding, than aggressive design.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from and how did the name for your brand OLGAJEANNE come about?

SB: My inspiration comes from a mix of art pieces, architecture, traditional handcraft know-hows for the techniques, details and colors from nature. Olgajeanne is a more or less direct tribute to women of my family, who taught me how to work with my hands when I was a child. It refers as well to one of my favorite characters in literature, Jane Eyre (from the eponymous novel by Charlotte Brontë), a bold and independent woman during the Victorian era.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of jewelry?

SB: It took me a few years to find out what’s the best way for me: I collect images from various sources all the time, that I organize into monthly folders. When I start a new project, I have a look at the 6 or more past months, and pick up the strongest images, the ones that I had kept in my mind. Then I reorganize them into themes, a few directions naturally come out from this process. I start to interpret them with the materials I have, make a few sketches, come back to work on materials, etc. Most of the time I need to buy more or different materials to adjust the project. Then when the right technique arises from my hands, after tens of options, I go back to sketch the whole collection.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your designs?

SB: My jewelry pieces are not traditional, they are in between objects, or sculptures, and ornamental jewels. When I am in the design process, I feel like an explorer, and become so excited when I come to a brand new technique. Just like if I had discovered an unknown island!

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

3SB: When being an independent jewelry designer with your own label, there are so many non-artistic tasks that you have to do… so my lifestyle is rather closer to working people. I work from my desk in my living room, which has become my workshop. I take a place in a co-working space one day a week, to get a bit more social on working hours! Or to be more focused than at home. I work every day on various themes, from marketing, sales, to design. When it comes to designing a new collection I work on it several days during a few weeks, and I really forget about the hours… I try to become even more organized. I stopped working on weekends 2 years ago, except when absolutely needed, because it is vital to really get a break, to keep your energy and inspiration high.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

SB: I’ve been working on my own label for a few years now, so my past collections are like ground foundations. My label values, style, are like guidelines for the following pieces. So yes there are already directions, but on the other hand, when starting a new project, I really don’t know what will come out at the end. I love so much to be surprised! I expect to be surprised. And I hope you are, too.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

SB: I learn new things every day, about art, design and so many other topics. The major lesson would be: never stop learning, never stop implementing.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

SB: To me somehow it is important: I love looking at people who have really personal style and tastes, they inspire me. I have to say I feel sorry for people who don’t give themselves the opportunity to be who they actually are, and tend to look like anyone else, the main trend, or celebrities for instance. But now I spend much less time and money on my personal style, I have so many other things to do that makes me feel happy. In a way, I would say I prefer no style (which is kind of one!), rather than a fake or a pretentious style.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

SB: To keep on doing what’s right for me, no matter the obstacles. To deal with other people’s tastes and expectations, and at the same time stay truthful to myself. I learn not to care, but in some situations, it’s still hard.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

SB: I personally think that creating pieces, material or non-material, is the best gift you can do to yourself. It gives me so much joy and happiness, like almost nothing else.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

SB: I love Louise Bourgeois’ work, not for her aesthetics, but for the power of her pieces. They are so strong! They really come from deep inside herself. I love a lot of contemporary artists, but LB stays amongst my favorites from all time.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

SB: I love using new technology for some parts of my work, it is so helpful and time saving! However, on some other aspects, it is important for me to keep it the good old way, making things with my hands. It gives a deeper meaning to my work.

2CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

SB: I don’t really know. I have not always been an artist, I started 13 years ago, it really changed my life, but I don’t remember how I was feeling before. Maybe because I was already an artist inside. One thing: maybe being an artist enables you to find beauty in any place, to be constantly curious, so life is never boring.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

SB: I used to travel quite often for work and holidays, but I must admit having an independent artist’s lifestyle and my own label, has given me less opportunities so far. I wish I could travel again for my work! I am sure it will happen again within a few years. I’ve been dreaming about going to Kyoto, Japan, for 20 years.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

SB: I read quite a lot, I love Japanese writers. One of my favorite authors is Tanizaki Junichiro. The reason to my dream of visiting Japan!

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

SB: Just keep going! I also wish to collaborate more with some other like-minded designers or artists.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

SB: Building, cultivating my very own vision, sharing it with people. Sometimes I feel my job is an artistic job, but different from being a “real” artist. But inside I feel I am.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?

SB: Will you scream if I tell you that I don’t remember? When I work, I need to concentrate, so much that I don’t listen to music, I wouldn’t hear it anyway. I am really inside my head. And when work is over, I prefer going out, to join people I like. So music, unfortunately, becomes less important to me, because I don’t have time for it. I wish I had, because I love it.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

SB: My aim is to surprise people with my designs, so I hope some of your readers will be!

CHECK OUT MORE ON: SOPHIE BAILLET

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