Why Michelle Moyer of Kenneth Pierre Designs Left Behind a Safe Career

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Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 39. Michelle Moyer.

"I don’t want to look back on my life and think 'if only I had…'"

That's why Michelle Moyer is where she is. "I always wanted a creative career but took a more 'practical' approach to my career in the beginning," she says. "Eventually, I realized that that life is short and we need to follow our dreams."

The practical path meant studying social work at Arizona State University. She stayed in the field for about 11 years, during which she started making jewelry as a hobby. She went on to work for herself in real estate,  then at the United States Tennis Association. 

"It was during this time that I took my first metalsmithing class and fell in love," Moyer says. "It was all I wanted to do in my free time! I also lost my father and grandfather four months apart during this time, and it really propelled me to follow my dream of becoming a full-time jewelry artist."

She immersed herself in metalwork, picked up skills from supportive fellow artists, and then started teaching metalsmithing in a studio.

Now, Moyer runs her own jewelry business, Kenneth Pierre Designs, which is named for her father and grandfather, respectively. Available at Bunky Boutique and Made Art Boutique in Phoenix, her pieces include statement-making geometric earrings in brass and bronze and rings set with coral and Howlite stones. She describes them as wearable metal sculptures. 

"I put a lot of heart and soul into each piece, and so I want the wearer to feel good, beautiful, confident, and happy when they wear the jewelry I make," she says. "It should make them smile either on the outside or the inside."

The next big item on the creative's to-do list — besides her daily social-media maintenance, boutique runs, and time spent crafting new pieces — is opening a studio where she'll offer classes in Central Phoenix. 

"Although it is not yet open, it is close," Moyer says. "Plans have been laid, and lease is almost finalized."

I am 46 and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where I still live.

I make art because I love it and it outlives us all. The idea that jewelry is often passed down from one generation to another is super cool too me. I will look at a ring from the 1800s and think, I wonder who wore that. I wonder what the store was. There is a bit of mystery in it. It also can make us feel close to whoever wore it before us. I love to wear one of my stepdad’s turquoise rings. It makes me feel like he is here with me. Art makes people feel happy. I love that. Also, I love that people can interpret art, jewelry included, however they want. People will ask me if that is what I was going for on a certain piece and I like to tell them that whatever they see is what is important. Art stretches boundaries. There is no right or wrong. I love it.

I have learned most from other artists and I have learned so much from students. Each student brings a new perspective to the art.

My inspiration wall is full of pictures of my beautiful daughter, my dogs, positive quotes, and I have several pieces of Navajo jewelry from the '70s that was passed down to me by my stepfather, who recently passed away.

Good work should always be made with love and an open mind. And like I said above, good work should push the boundaries and try new things. I will have students ask me if their work is right. I can tell them if the technique is accurate but whether their work is right is up to them. If it is right for you then it is right. It is in the eye of the beholder.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more venues for beginning artists to show/sell their work and to network. This is a hard question. I think that the creative scene has really grown and is continuing to grow. I would like to see more networking for artists across mediums. Artists coming together to share each other’s work and promote one another and sharing ideas. It can be scary and lonely when you work on your own so much. I would also say more help on the business side of being an artist. Many artists are great at creating but struggle with developing and growing their business. Many typical business classes don’t totally apply to a creative business. 

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King

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