(Kt Ferris original painting)
Where does the obsession with eyes come from? Where did this all begin? It is weird, and I love it!
Kt: Um, well the obsession with eyes, my mom had thyroid disease and she had the type of eyes that popped out of her head, and that was always really, interesting to me as a kid. I think also my paintings. I would always leave the eyes for last, it was the best part of it, when I would paint them. You know when you are younger you don't really understand your emotions? I would paint the eyes with no intention on an emotion, it would just happen and I'd be like oh yeah that’s how I'm feeling! I kind of don't really understand it fully, but as the years go on I am understanding it more. I think eyes are so important, eye contact is important and they are just so pretty! They are like little gems ya know?! We all have two little gems in our heads!
So where do you pull your inspiration from?
Kt: The inspiration comes from my life. I was thinking about it today actually, how my pieces, with my paintings, and jewelry, they are always growing. They started kind of like these little buds and started growing wiser and longer.
Would you say there is a dark undertone to a lot of your pieces?
Kt: Totally! I feel like I have two different sides to me. One side of me is very dark and reserved. I don't really show that side much. Then the other side of me is really goofy, always making weird noises and flailing around. So, the eyes to me are goofy, they blink! It is funny, and not meant to be serious, but then the metalwork around it is so serious. People are always like, you're really nice and all, but you have a dark side, which I do and I think a lot of people do. It is not meant to be super serious, because I don't like to take myself too serious. Life is pretty funny.
So how long have you been making these pieces and what exactly goes into making them?
Kt: I have been doing, just this, solely, for three years now. There is a lot that goes into it. I carve the original out of wax and the wax that I use is called Ferris wax, which is spelled the same way as my last name. Caster is also my mom’s maiden name. So that is kind of how I was like oh maybe I'm supposed to be doing this, you know that clue. I use Ferris wax to carve and whittle until it looks like what I think it should. I used to do to all my own castings, but you need so much equipment to do it so I drop it off in the diamond district at Taba, they are amazing. I've gone to other casters and they are like uhh I’m not touching that, that is too detailed. But yeah, it’s carved out of wax, cast and then I have an 8-step cleaning process for each piece. Each piece is completely done by me, minus the casting, which turns it from wax to metal. They are totally hand done! I don't really sketch anything out before I design it and I don't force it either. If I'm not feeling it I'll just put it aside halfway through.
So, did you always picture yourself doing this as a career?
No, I definitely thought I was going to be a painter, and then I had an art show in Rochester, where I'm from, and all I sold was little $20 paintings. Nobody was going to buy my big stuff that took a month to do. So, this woman at a thrift store in Rochester, she gave me this huge jar of broken jewelry and was like "do something with it". So, I got a bunch of Barbies at a garage sale and I started hacking their faces away, I put them in the microwave and attached this broken jewelry to them. She would sell them at the thrift store and I was selling them for $20 a pop, making 20 a day. So I was like wait a second, I'm actually making money doing this. And then I googled jewelry trade schools and the second school I clicked on I was like this was it, Studio Jewelers in NY on 31st street. It is a small school, like 30 kids at a time and I knew this was what I wanted to do. I thought I was going to set stones for Tiffany's this just happened. I got the idea while I was still in school and I went with it. I didn't plan it, I worked for the school and another jewelry designer who was super old school and then slowly was building my Instagram and my online store. I remember I made 1000 in one month on my website, this was like 3 years ago, and I was like OMG and I quit my job. I was like this is it, I'm doing it. Then I was a total starving artist for a while. I would like go to the coffee shop by my house and the girl would hook me up and that's how I ate every day. It just happened. I didn't plan on it. I was confident in it and I knew it was different and that it was a niche there was a big market for it and it just worked. Artist markets in New York really allowed me to do it.
So tell me a little bit about your new collection!
Ooo well, it is totally different from the eyeballs. It is still on the same lines of protection, but in a different way. It is called "Cliterally Insane" and it is little tiny vaginas. It is all about girl power and loving ourselves and each other. I think that it was really inspired by the women's march. I went and had the best time. I just felt it in the air for a while after that march. Just woman like on the subway even smiling at people, there was more interaction with strangers. It also comes from wanting young girls in high school not to feel so awkward and weird about their sexuality. I remember I felt so you know, you hook up with a guy and everybody finds out and you wonder what people are thinking about you. I think that is such bullshit because that never happens when a guy does that and that is kind of how I felt. Then I would end up feeling embarrassed about it when I shouldn't because it’s fun and vaginas are pretty cool, babies come out of them! We make human beings in our bodies and then they come out of our vagina, that kind of like the coolest things humans can do.
I don't want to pinpoint it to one thing. I don’t want to make it about the election or anything like that, but I just wish that girls would love themselves more and not judge themselves and other girls. Like whatever, get laid, do your thing who cares!! It is nobody’s business and as long as you are ok with yourself, your body, and what you are doing with it then it shouldn't matter to anybody else. I’ve also been photographing some of my friends and asking them about getting their period for the first time. I know with mine I was horrified, I didn't tell my mom. I was so freaked out! And I don't know, it should be a good memory, but for so many girls it's so not. Actually, not one person I talked to has like a good story. We don't talk about it and it so awkward the way we talk about is so stiff. It should be celebrated. Also 10% goes to planned parenthood!
So what kind of advice do you have for young girls who are trying to pursue their dreams in a world where everyone seems to be trying to knock us down?
Number one, I feel like you have to believe in yourself and be confident. Don’t be overconfident and cocky, but in your heart, believe. When you get knocked down, I mean I don't know how many times it has happened to me when I have a couple dollars in my bank account and I'm like no just keep going and it's going to fine. You always bounce back, you have to keep getting back up. Trust yourself and even if things don't work out you have to trust yourself and hope for the best. Be loud about it!!!
Janeth Ann Gonda is currently the events and promotions manager at BUST Magazine, a singer, dancer, writer, and event planner living in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently the lead singer in the Gypsy Witch Rock Band Espejismo. After working in the Brooklyn music industry for several years she created her own event space Barranquilla Studios. Janeth has hosted hundreds of bands and fans alike and is an active member in the NYC music community.