In anticipation of the Walker’s Jewelry & Accessory Makers Mart this Saturday, we’re highlighting a few of the 25 jewelry and accessory artists whose hand-crafted designs will be on display.
Robyne Robinson, well-known in the local arts and culture scene, is a former television news anchor and currently a consulting arts director for the Airport Foundation MSP. She’s also the jewelry designer behind ROX, creating bold looks for men and women. Here, she tells us about her work.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Chicago, in Park Manor, a little neighborhood just south of Jackson Park and Hyde Park where the new Obama presidential library will be located. I went to Loyola University of Chicago (Go Ramblers! So proud of them for going to the Big Game, the NCAA semifinals). I went to a former military school for 6th to 12th grade.
How do you describe yourself and your brand?
I love travel, history, and art, so I’d say my style mixes all three. I’m sort of a Global Bohemian, and I think ROX reflects that as well.
You’ve held many prestigious positions in different career fields. What brought you to jewelry-making?
I’ve been making jewelry since I was a child. I grew up surrounded by artistic people who encouraged us to be creative. My mom was credited for being the artistic one, but my father also had a pragmatic side. So while they both encouraged us to make art, they also wanted us to remember to make it profitable as well—whatever we thought that meant to us. So it’s always been a part of my life.
What’s something you learned in your careers that stand out to you now?
Find what makes you happy and do it.
How do you find inspiration when making a new piece?
I sometimes dream about making designs, so I always leave Post-it notes beside my bed. Many times just holding gemstones in my hands and rubbing the beads between my fingers sends me into a trance, making jewelry in my head. There’s also a lot of trial and error—laying out designs that don’t work when strung. When I lived in Greece, I would also spend a lot of time in jewelry and history museums sketching antiques, like the museum dedicated to Greece’s greatest designer, Ilias Lalaounis.
What was it like living in Greece?
Greece is magical. It’s New York on steroids and a Mediterranean paradise at the same time. I love the people—who are the most cynical, proud, loyal, generous, and loving people on the planet. They will tell you civilization and democracy started with them every chance they get.
How do you bring your style and personality into your work?
I’m most comfortable in jeans with a crisp, white shirt and an arm filled with bracelets from around the world. Or an amazing antique Yemeni wedding bead necklace. A Turkish carpet bag. A simple, clean look with elegance in the detail. I design for women and men who embrace the same aesthetic. I want to talk about my jewelry—where I traveled to find it, the people, the history, the culture. So I want the jewelry to reflect that adventure.
What’s one of your favorite pieces you’ve made?
It’s hard to have a favorite—that’s like being asked to pick a favorite child. Every piece is my favorite at the time I made it, so I’ll say it’s the stone arrowhead, wood, Ethiopian brass, and Chinese flower jade necklace I just made.
You’re also an art collector. What’s one of your favorite artworks or collections?
I’m a collector, a patron, advocate, and former gallery owner. I love my collection! It hosts several of my favorite artists: Francesco Clemente, Robert Rauschenberg, Chris Ofili, Marva Jolly, Andy Warhol, Shepard Fairey, Calder, Oldenburg, Dali, and Picasso.
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