Artist to Watch: Ryann Thompson
Q&A with the creative force behind R.T. Jewelry & Accessories.
Hi Ryann! What inspired you to start your accessories business?
Believe it or not everything began with my Facebook page. Friends and coworkers were beginning to take notice of the jewelry I was making and wearing. I was asked to make jewelry for a few friends of mine and needed a way to show them examples of what I was capable of making so I started R.T. Accessories on Facebook. I really didn’t imagine I would end up with so many supporters. People I didn’t know had become fans and were commenting on my jewelry. They didn’t know me. They weren’t just being nice. They liked what I was making. This gave me the confidence to enter the festivals this past summer and that is when this all turned from being just a hobby into something else.
Had you ever taken any formal jewelry making classes? If so, where?
I would love to say that I have been professionally trained by experts all over the county, and I have looked into a few classes at the Chester County Art Association. But honestly, I just watch tutorials on You Tube whenever I am looking to pick up a new technique. Last year, I wanted to begin experimenting with polymer clay but didn’t know a thing about the material. I watched a few videos and the next day I was able to start making my own pendants. Some of my favorite pieces came out of that first day, and I still wear them all of the time.
Had this always been a passion of yours, or did it occur to you later in life?
I have been studying art and dabbling in various crafts my whole life, but I never considered making jewelry until about 6 years ago. The way it happened was really very simple too. It was a rainy Sunday and I was casually perusing the craft store for something new when I came across the jewelry aisle. I wondered why I had never thought to try this before and I purchased a starter kit. I began making earrings for myself, then as gifts. This turned into making bracelets, and then my sister kept urging me to make necklaces. So I did. Then I was hooked.
What was your favorite part of growing up in West Chester?
The people. I have really enjoyed watching West Chester grow and expand into what it is today. We are a town of do-it-your-self-ers. We are resourceful, creative and artistic. We appreciate what we have and work for what we want. Just walk around town and take a look at some of the houses and the pride the local residents are taking in maintaining their history and beauty. There is definitely a surge of creativity flowing through West Chester right now and I am glad I am here to be a part of it.
Have any recent events influenced your artistry, or intensified your dedication to do what you love?
Yes. After the festival season had finished I was relieved to have some time to start experimenting with new materials and ideas I had been storing over the summer because I didn’t have the time to play around with them. I was looking forward to learning resin casting, metal stamping, photo transferring and of course continuing to play with polymer clay. Since most of my time has been going toward developing these new techniques, it had been awhile since I have let the beads and chains steer me in any direction they wanted to go. Recently I had an entire day to do just that. I didn’t have a specific order I had to finish or new technique to experiment with, and I didn’t have anywhere to be. I put my iPod in and worked for hours. It was nice to kind of “freestyle” some designs and remember that my natural ability, talent and instincts is what attracts me to creating jewelry. It’s always good to learn and add new techniques, but sometimes you just need to get back to the basics and let yourself be creative without any pressure. These are always my favorite kind of days. It reminds me that I truly do love creating and designing jewelry and I always feel so inspired when I just let myself go. I felt so energized and motivated, confirming that I am not slowing down anytime soon.
What is your favorite WC street event for showcasing your work?
This past summer was the first time I had showcased my work publicly, and I admit that I was scared to venture out into the masses. But the people who attended these festivals quickly put me at ease. Everyone was so warm and inviting. They were curious about my work and eager to be complimentary. I set up at all of the Swinging Summer Thursdays and the restaurant festival this summer. And although I thoroughly enjoyed all of the events, the restaurant festival was definitely the most exciting and rewarding of them all. I interacted with so many different people and everyone was so supportive and enthusiastic about my designs. I walked away from that day feeling like I was definitely in the right place, doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Any local artists who have served as an inspiration to you?
I don’t know any local jewelry artists since I am fairly knew to the scene, but the residents inspire me all the time. I make what I like, what my family likes and what my friends like. I listen to what they have to say. I notice what they are wearing and how they want to express themselves. There are a lot of strong, confident and practical women in my life. They want to feel feminine and pretty yet they aren’t showy or flashy. I want to create jewelry for these women; understated, unique and beautiful jewelry that they feel comfortable wearing.
Where do you hope to be with your business in five years?
In five years I would like to be supporting myself primarily from my jewelry sales. Have a necklace or 2 published in a few of the magazines I drool over monthly. Still have the passion and drive that makes me want to continuously create and learn about designing jewelry. The day I really cannot wait for is when I pass a stranger on the street who is wearing something I made. I imagine that day often, and with time I know it will happen.
Where can people purchase your designs?
I do a lot of face to face sales (festivals, house parties or a request from someone I know). I am currently trying to learn the ins and outs of an online shop and I hope to someday have a fully functioning jewelry shop on my website www.designsbyryann.com, but for now you can visit my etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/DesignsByRyann to see what is currently available. And although you cannot purchase directly from my Facebook page or blog; this is where I most frequently showcase my designs. If you see something you like you can contact me at Ryann@Designsbyryann.com.