January 15, 2015
Tracy Timmons, Jeweler
I met Tracy Timmons while waiting in line at The Butcher's Daughter takeout shop, where I was buying myself some Fire Cider for this post. I needed someone to hold the bottle so I could take a photograph of it, and she kindly agreed. I discovered that she was an artist and a jeweler, so I said, "Hey, I should interview you for my blog." And so here we are.
So what's your background?
I went to school for art. A lot of the drawings and paintings I do are sort of references to nature and fashion and gestures found within those things. The jewelry came out of fashion. I like the idea of adornment, or relics that you carry with you that age with time or tarnish.
Is that why you work with crystals? I was super-into crystals in high school, and I seem to be going through a phase where I love them again. I bought this pyrite necklace while I was in LA, and now I'm like, "I need more pyrites."
I love pyrite. I grew up in the woods, and I grew up around a lot of nature. I feel like there's something special about the roughness of a crystal, something that's natural, not totally polished, that carries with it a sense of history. Pyrite is fancy and also accessible. I like how it's shiny and geometric and also fractured.
How long has the jewelry company part of things been in existence?
It started when my boyfriend Bryce (Joseph Bryce, a tattoo artist) and I moved to New York five years ago. We both collected a lot of vintage pieces, and I always put together necklaces on my own that included vintage pieces. We both started collecting more and more vintage stuff, and we started selling a lot of vintage stuff we found at antique markets and vintage shops. It was something we could do together. Eventually, I started realizing I had the resources to be casting things. So then we began to make it more about collecting objects, for example, using shells from the beach in Florida where Bryce's parents live.
Is this your primary source of income now?
I have many sources of income. It's a balance between teaching at NYU, painting and drawing, art and the jewelry. It's all of these things. I kind of piece it all together.
Do you show at a gallery?
I have shown at galleries, but I don't have a gallery right now. I feel like people want you to do one thing, and that's your thing, and that's what they look for when they look at you. But I think it's important to do a lot of things, to constantly learn and grow as an artist, and explore different materials. And some things don't work. It's okay to be like, "That's not working." It's nice for Bryce and me to be able to come together. We work on the jewelry really slowly. We don't abide by these terms of seasons. Every year, depending on what we've collected and what we feel we need to make, we make it. Because the styles are meant to be lasting.
What is your definition of success, in life, as a person, as well as in professional stuff?
I feel like there are varying levels of success. You can feel successful in a moment. You get a sense of clarity from something you do, a feeling of growth. Achievements along the way. I always think, if you're happy, you're successful, but sometimes I feel like I'm really happy when I'm struggling too. There's something sick about it, but something else has to make you do these things, it can't just be money. Because otherwise we'd all be gambling all the time. I think success is achieving goals and surprising yourself--those are things I really respect. For me, respect is huge.
It's interesting that you say surprising yourself. What do you mean by that?
I think you can learn a lot from being surprised. It can be stepping outside yourself for a moment, or looking at something from a different perspective. A lot of things that we think might be mundane can in effect surprise you by shifting your perspective. You might surprise yourself by thinking you're one way and discovering you're something else or something more. I think it's a powerful thing to be able to recognize it, and I think recognizing when you do something outside yourself is maybe surprising, or generates a feeling of surprise.
Where are you at your happiest?
Here in my studio, just working. I get really lost in my drawings. There's a real meditative process that happens that feels like some kind of connection happening between my brain and my hand that's just happening, and I'm not planning, I'm just impulsively working. I feel really happy when I'm at home with my cat and my boyfriend. I love traveling. Maybe I'm happiest in the extremes, in my most comfortable zones and my least comfortable zones. I love drawing on planes. I always think, "How can I make my studio my airplane?"
What is the good juice in life for you? Where do you go get your good juice, aside from the Butcher's Daughter? What gets you psyched?
Art, definitely. Seeing something that really moves me. Seeing great paintings. The Met. My friend and I used to live on the Lower East Side and the East Village, and on Saturdays we would meet up and walk all the way to the Met and just watch the neighborhoods change. We'd talk and have this amazing walk, and then we'd go to the Met, which was like our therapy. We'd get overstimulated and exhausted and happy, and then we'd go lie down in the park and watch the roller skaters and rollerbladers. All those things--appreciating moments, and time passing in your life, and then appareciating history and other people enjoying things that they do while you enjoy things that you do--that's great.
To shop Drylake Affinity, Tracy and Bryce's jewelry line, click here.