Wednesday, August 25, 2010

tara magboo talks about adorable mayhem

by frédérik sisa

So there I was at Comic-Con '10, wandering around, when I happened upon an intriguing display:


What's this? I asked. Such pretty things, with animals and whimsy and charm what a difference from all the toy collectibles and action figures! And so I was introduced to Magboo Jewelry by multi-talented designer Tara Magboo. The pieces are well crafted and beautifully designed. Most importantly, they display the sort of individuality that catches the eye. I caught up with Tara via eMail to learn more about her art.

How did you come to conceive and develop your own jewelry collection?

Most of my efforts are invested into the Adorable Mayhem collection. The idea was first conceived during my graduate studies at San Diego State University in the Metalsmithing department. I made a series of interactive, silver toy rings based on my own experience with hamsters. A few years ago, I used to own Roborovski hamsters which are dwarf hamsters. Much to my dismay, their extreme animosity towards each other resulted in the ultimate demise of one of the hamsters. Following this incident, I proceeded to delve more deeply into researching hamsters and discovered that they are in actuality solitary creatures that will exhibit extreme hostility towards each other if housed together.

Based on a recommendation of a friend, I appropriately titled the hamster ring series Adorable Mayhem as they are cute creatures involved in violent activities. This spawned the whole idea for a jewelry line of cute animal characters with flawed personalities. The “Adorable”characters exhibit a range of expressions: sadness, fear, anger, surprise, etc. I find the irony both refreshing and oddly humorous.


How do you typically develop a piece from drawing board to completed work?

I am very much inspired by Japanese popular culture, from anime, toys, packaging, and specific artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara. This influence inspires the overall aesthetic of the characters.

Some forms that I see can spark an idea for a new character. Then I determine the personality of the character and what animal might best fit his persona. I create a variety of sketches until I come up with a design that I feel best reflects the essential qualities of that character. I then take the finalized design and will either hand fabricate my originals or cast them in metal.

What philosophy drives your design?

Making well-designed and well-crafted products is very important to me. I love attention to detail and therefore consider all aspects of a particular piece. For my jewelry, I design all the clasps, the name tags, ear wires and pendants and primarily work in sterling silver. In addition, when I do utilize other services, I try to support other small local businesses when I can.

As a one-person operation, I’m involved in all aspects of the business. I create the graphic design for signage, business cards, t-shirts, and tote bags, in addition to the metalwork. Being knowledgeable of a variety of processes is empowering. If one has direct understanding of the materials, one can understand their limitations and possibilities. Expanding my skill set has definitely helped me become a better designer.

And finally, I like to be able to offer people something that brings a little joy to their lives through experiencing the odd, yet charming humor in my work.


In a field that tends to focus on women, you stand out for also offering a men’s collection. What is the story behind “Adonis”?

The “Adonis” is a higher-end, men’s jewelry line that is still in its infancy. All the pieces are one-of-a-kind particularly since I employ uniquely cut semi- precious stones. The jewelry is more substantial because I incorporate large stones and bold, graphic forms in silver. This aesthetic lends itself to a more masculine feel.

The title came from the story of Adonis, who is a strikingly, handsome young man that caught the attention of the gods in Greek mythology.

From retail collection, to art exhibits, your work is getting increased exposure. What are you ambitions for your work and where do you see yourself in five years?

I started my business a year ago and I have been exhibiting at a variety of retail shows in order to find my place in the market. In five years, I would like to have a successful small business. My hope is for that to become a reality.

At that five year mark, I would like to have published a series of comic books for the Adorable Mayhem line. I’ve been in the process of sketching out comic panels involving the various characters. This step seems essential to further enrich the concept of the line. The audience would become more invested in the characters lives and purchase pieces based on characters they could relate to.

I view Adorable Mayhem , primarily, as a retail venture, however, there could be a possibility that I would expand into selling wholesale. On a side note, being featured in glossy magazines couldn’t hurt either!

And lastly, I foresee continuing to teach jewelry courses at the UCSD Crafts Center in conjunction with running my business. It keeps me on my toes by challenging myself to continually learn new technique and ultimately, offer more material to my students. Presenting myself with this challenge has not only benefited me as an instructor, but also as a business owner. Teaching is very fulfilling for me. It’s a good feeling to help people do something that I love doing: making jewelry.


And there you go. Many thanks to Tara for taking the time to chat with me, and for sharing the images!

Visit the Magboo Jewelry website for more.

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