My best friend came over a couple weeks ago wearing a metal rose, an I.D. bracelet, a broken Swatch watch, a chandelier crystal and a large, metal cross...at the same time.
All of these broken bits were tangled, soldered, bent and twisted together in one odd and awkwardly gorgeous necklace.
I completely freaked out over it.
That's how I found out about Dear Raymer jewelry designs by local designer, Jared Tate Johnson.
Johnson has a long history with design. He started taking art classes in the 3rd grade and since then has bounced around art schools, studios and colleges. Originally from Great Bend, Kansas, Johnson found himself in Phoenix by beating out 8,000 other aspiring designers in a scholarship contest. The scholarship landed him at Collins school of Design. He dropped out just a year later and started making and selling his jewelry.
And, by the way, this night promises to be a great one. The fashion show is organized by the fine folks of Faux Show (who, trust me, really know how to throw a party), local fashion design goddess Tiffe Fermaint (who has worked wardrobe for VH1, MTV and countless music videos) and Impulse Magazine . There are eleven designers total including Dear Raymer, Tiffe Fermaint, Devani Weaver, and Makeshift Apparel with DJ's Sean Watson, Jared Alan, Goldsmith and BC/AD.
Um, so...yeah, you should go. It's going to be a blast.
Anyway, back to Johnson. I was absolutely blown away by his work so I caught up with him for a quick interview. Just like his designs, he's whimsical, funny and sweetly sentimental.
What is your full name?
Jared Tate Johnson. I'm from Kansas. We champion the right to do the double first name thing...you know...like my dad Jay Allen, my grammy Peggy Sue, and my good friend Cara May. It's a Midwest thing,. I'm not being proper when i introduce myself as Jared Tate, although it's not a bad perception to go along with.
Where are you from?
A haven of Midwest bliss...Great Bend, Kansas. Although a town of around 8 thousand may seem like a hell hole to you, everyone knew my name. And when people know you for good, not a lot of bad can happen.
How do you come up with your creations...when did you first find this style?
My creations are based on a meditation through my fingers, hands, heart, and mind. That's why I love to make pieces for individual commissions. That way i'm thinking about the person that will be wearing the treasure and I can charge it with a lot of positive energy and self involvement. I first started using vintage in my jewelry when my Grandpa gave me and old bolo tie made out of horshoe nails.... it took me an hour to pound them apart and then another just to figure out how to fix them upon my neck. Now as i've been doing it for years, things fit together as if they were Picasso's secret puzzle pieces. All things in life can be altered. With my art background i'm able to sketch and draw what i want to create before these little fingeres have to touch a single stone... I also use completely organic sulfars to tarnish my sterlings and golds... but the antique chains and charms I leave alone so you can feel the life of the vintage pulse through the design.
What's your favorite piece you've ever created? Why?
A locket i made for my beautiful lady Bug [girlfriend]. It was a surprise gift for her birthday that followed an antique gumball machine from the year she was born, a pretty slick little rock n roll song, and a surprise birthday grill party. I may have cried when I made it...only because I knew of what I had captured.
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How can people buy your jewelry? Website, Etsy, etc?
People can order off my myspace, but I'm not in the business of making people things because someone thinks "it'd be cool if someone made a necklace with blank, blank, blank..." is that understandable? I never know how to explain that I don't reproduce ANYTHING....nor do I reproduce someone else's idea. It's not mine. I have no connection to it. So with that said, commissions are the best way to do it. If a treasure is to be built for you, I'll ask you a series of very easy questions. Kind of like a quiz, as if you had to stand in front of the class in 5th grade and introduce yourself to your peers. What do you want me to know about you? What's important, you know, that way I can really dig deep into what I'm creating. I love doing commissions, it's my favorite. Oh, but back to the others. I set up an Etsy account and am having the same issues I have with the blog. I need a computer savvy stallion to give me a kick in the pants, so at this time, there's nothing on the page.
For the objects you incorporate into your jewelry, what are you usually attracted to?
Things that speak...
Dear Raymer designs are available at Covet in Scottsdale and will be showcased at the Cheap Thrills Fashion Show on Saturday, September 12th at Black Forest Mill, 4900 E. Indian School. Doors open at 9 p.m., show starts at 11 p.m., $8 cover.