An Interview with Local Artist Amy Pieroni
Southern Living Magazine has proclaimed Madison, Georgia, to be one of the South's prettiest towns, and it's easy to see why. Madison is home to a rich and well-preserved history as well as beautiful gardens, but it also contains an extraordinary amount of talented local artists. The Madison Artists Guild and Gallery proudly displays and sells their work, and I took the time to interview several local artists to find out more about their creative process, inspiration, and work.
I began this series of interviews by reaching out to MAGallery, located in downtown Madison. For our first feature, I spoke to Amy Pieroni of Amy Pieroni Designs to discuss her art. Here's what she had to say about her work.
What is your background?
I have a degree in Art History and Fine Arts. Over a three decade period, I have switched mediums a couple of times. I started off as a photographer, then painter, switched back to photography, and then settled into metalsmithing and jewelry-making about 15 years ago.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Yes, I always knew. I was always tinkering and creating with found objects. I lived on the Tennessee River so there were always plenty of weird items on the shore or in the woods to create with.
What is your favorite artwork you’ve ever created?
That's tough, but my favorite projects are the highly sentimental pieces I create from heirlooms supplied by clients. It's a great honor to be entrusted with someone's family jewels--and often terrifying to start cutting them apart! It's very rewarding to take jewelry that is wasting away in a drawer because it doesn't fit or is broken. I'm able to to retain the sentimental or monetary value of the materials and transform it into a new piece that can be worn by a new generation.
What time of day do you feel most creative?
I feel most creative in the morning, although I often work well into the evenings. I have to make myself stop when I get tired. Otherwise, I start making mistakes.
How do you make time for your art, and would you say you have a healthy work/life balance?
I am a full-time artist, and I don't have kids at home anymore, so my work life balance consists of me making sure I stop working in my studio to spend time exercising or exploring the woods around my house.
Tell us about the space where you create.
My studio is in the walk out basement of my house. The windows overlook the barn and creek.
What inspires your work?
My work is inspired by a lifelong appreciation of the natural world and my part in saving it through my jewelry. I use only sustainable metals.
Who are your biggest influences?
Historically, Rene Lalique and Faberge designs have always fascinated me. The mid-century jewelry of Art Smith and Pal Kepenyes inspire my work daily. I do spend time on Pinterest and instagram looking at contemporary art jewelry.
As an artist, do you have a favorite tool you use to create?
My favorite tool is a pair of scissors--Helen Chin shears, to be exact. They cut through any metal with ease and precision.
How do you share or promote your work?
I promote my work on Instagram. I also participate in juried art festivals.
Do you have any routines that help you be more creative?
I usually have way more ideas than hours in the day! If I'm just not feeling it, I work on the necessary but tedious tasks like earring hooks. In short order, I'm distracted by something in my studio that inspires a design and off I go!
What is your biggest barrier to being an artist or creating art, and how do you address it?
My biggest challenge as an artist was getting approval from my family. As a young adult, I was constantly told that art was not an acceptable profession and strongly encouraged to go in another direction. I was in my forties before they gave in and realized this was what I was going to do and fully supported my decision.
How do you determine what you charge for your work?
I pay myself an hourly wage and then add cost of materials. I double that amount for wholesale and double wholesale for the retail price.
What advice would you give to new artists starting out?
Don't underprice yourself. I see many young artists that are talented but do not have the confidence to think their art has intrinsic value and price it too low.
When we make an effort to shop local and support small businesses, it's important to remember that this includes the artists who call our community home. Follow my work for more features on local artists, and be sure to stop into MAGallery to see the art in person. The gallery is located at 125 W. Jefferson Street in historic downtown, Madison, Georgia.
Madison Artists Guild is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to education and encouragement of artistic endeavor in its members and the community through outreach programs, classes and workshops, social gatherings, and support of local artists through MAGallery. For more information or to become a member, visit www.themadisonartistsguild.org/