Interview with Jewelry Designer, Angie Marei
The life of a jewelry designer is an adventure any type of artist can relate to. In the beginning, the artist defines the brand, that unique fire that ignites people's curiosity to learn more. Next, the artist develops the pieces of the collection, infusing it with the skills of a passionate creative. Finally, it all melts together into beautiful works of art, that anyone would love to get their hands on. Angie Marei of Diaboli Kill is a New York City-based jewelry designer, hand-crafting beautiful pieces out of her Brooklyn loft/studio. She recently began this journey and her collection has been featured in this year's September issue of Grazia Germany. The entire collection is absolutely stunning and beautifully flawless! I had the chance to ask Angie some questions about how she began her business, where she draws inspiration, and her future goals.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I was born and raised in New York and now I live in our Brooklyn loft/studio with my husband, and son. As a child I have always enjoyed the process of making and building things. I made my own clothes and costumes, I made robots, took apart electronics and reassembled them, I designed tattoos for friends, I even made my own horror movies. It was my dream to become some sort of artist as a child so it was only natural that I went to art school for college, majoring in Communications Design at Pratt Institute. My first real job was at a luxury fashion advertising and branding agency designing ads and packaging for major brands like Gucci, YSL, John Varvatos, Estee Lauder and that was opened my eyes to the world of luxury.
After working as an art director in advertising and branding for years and staring at a computer screen all day I really began to miss making things by hand. I began taking courses in fine jewelry at ISJD (International School of Jewelry & Design) in New York and had the opportunity to study with an amazing master jeweler, Jukka Keranen. Jewelry making and designing suddenly became my addiction, it was like a fever. I even took time off work to go back to school full time and really learn the craft. I continue to take metalsmithing and goldsmithing workshops at Fitzgerald Jewelry School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I spent the past 3 years working on developing my aesthetic and designing my debut collection.
Where do you get your jewelry design inspiration come from?
My father is Egyptian and growing up he would always tell me stories about the history of ancient Egypt, how the pyramids were built, the process of mummification, ancient superstitions; he was really into the dark spiritual side of Egyptian history. I went to Egypt a few times as a kid and my family also bought a lot of Egyptian gold jewelry and I would always receive lots of jewelry from my relatives as gifts. Incorporating elements of ancient Egyptian design into my jewelry is my way of keeping ties to my Egyptian heritage. I also get inspiration from all around the world by travelling and visiting museums, collecting art and jewelry books. I love the art deco period and reference a lot of my designs from sculptures and jewelry from that period.
Do your pieces have a theme or underlying idea?
I have always been attracted to the dark side since a child. I grew up watching horror movies and reading thriller fiction novels and going to the local Botanica to buy things that had magic spells. I had a very superstitious family who believe in all kinds of things like witchcraft, spirits and demons. I really enjoyed learning about all things occult. I find that no matter what I do my designs always have a underlying theme of dark spiritualism, power and luxury.
What was your inspiration for your new pieces you're about to release?
The debut collection, Lux Ex Tenebris, latin for “Light in Darkness”, celebrates the splendor of the Egyptian Empire’s icons. Fine metals accented by subtle jewels encapsulate the power, poignancy and luxury of the gods and goddesses with a structure that evokes the essence of the chambers that housed their remembrance, the Pyramids. The Lux ex Tenebris collection curates unisex pieces that don’t draw attention, but demand it, allowing the adornment and extravagance of ancient beauty and power in the present day.
When you first started, did your friends and family support you?
My husband Jarrod saw how much I enjoyed making jewelry and he encouraged me to take to it seriously and really go for it and he helped me set up my business. I also met a great group of people in jewelry industry (teachers, metal smiths, designers, and jewelers) that I have become friends with who have also been extremely kind and supportive.
Do you design from a studio or your home?
I design mostly from my workshop/studio at home. I work on sketches first, then I make a wax model or design on my computer and make a 3d printed model. I also spend a lot of time in the jewelry district in Manhattan getting castings produced, sourcing materials and stones.
Do you listen to music while you're designing? If so what do you like to listen to?
I am always listening to music while I work. I like a different variety depending on what my mood is. Right now I listen to a lot of Iamamiwhoami, Joy Division, New Order, Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, Pet Shop Boys, Twin Peaks Soundtrack, David Bowie, Jessie Ware, Kraftwerk, Kenrick Lamar, Drake, Emika, Gesaffelstein, Chet Baker, Julie London and Piero Umiliani. Its kind of all over the place but I really appreciate all kinds of music.
How was being a small business owner changed your design approach?
Being a self-funded small business owner I realized that I had to be mindful of how I allocated my budget for production. I decided that quality over quantity is what is most important to me. So I chose to spend my funds carefully to design and produce high-quality pieces in small amounts. Right now I only produce pieces that are made to order.
Have you had any celebrities wearing your pieces?
No, not yet. I have not even really launched my debut collection yet but I had some pieces in a few magazines already. I am hoping once I launch my new collection, it will get noticed by stylists and celebrities.
Is there a specific celebrity you'd love to see wearing your designs?
Rooney Mara because she isn’t really so mainstream and seems quite private. Her red carpet style is chic, elegant and timeless, but with a feminine touch of dark edginess.
Beyond your business, what are your hobbies or passions?
Hanging out with my baby boy Lucien and my husband Jarrod and our two dogs. I also love travelling, and working out.
As an artist are there mediums beyond jewelry you enjoy?
I am also an art director and graphic designer so I love designing on Photoshop and Illustrator. I also love drawing-I draw everyday and carry around sketchbooks with me all the time and I enjoy making sculptures.
What do you hope the future holds for you?
I hope that Diaboli Kill becomes a successful small luxury brand and I would love to collaborate with other artists with similar aesthetic on bigger projects.
— You can view the entire collection on diabolikill.com —