Artist Interview: Meet Jewelry Designer Peggy Li!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Thorned Heart Necklace, one of the many beautiful jewelry creations by Peggy Li.

Although I only recently discovered Peggy Li's amazing jewelry, I'm already a huge fan! Her designs combine many of my favorite elements -- elegant simplicity, fine-crafted details and a nod to nature. Thanks to the good word spread in part by the community here Ms. Li agreed to sit down for an interview so the EA community could learn more about her designs, her background and her artistry! I'm delighted to share her story with you and Ms. Li is offering a thank you for the community too!

Ready to meet her? Interview after the jump.

Peggy Li, today's artist interview subject

Much as the best stories go, Peggy Li didn't initially set out to make jewelry. Originally from Santa Rosa, CA, Ms. Li started crafting her designs in high school to gift to friends. Jewelry was not her only hobby -- she also enjoyed creative writing. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a scientific degree she moved to Los Angeles to pursue screenwriting before settling down in the Bay Area and working in technology. Although we come from opposite coasts this is a life story I can really identify with! All this time Ms. Li continued making her designs as a hobby until one day she decided to reach out to a contact who worked on Buffy The Vampire Slayer to see if the show would be interested in using her jewelry. To her surprise and delight the show featured one of her pieces, and then more! A few years later a full-time career was born.

Ms. Li currently sells her jewelry exclusively online. It can be found both through her website and on Boticca. I first discovered Ms. Li when I fell in love with one of her pieces on a TV show I was watching and after an epic hunt it led me to her site. Now after cruising the Seen In section on her website I see many more pieces I admired on a few of my favorite shows! It was very cool to chat with the artist behind these designs. I wasn't surprised when Ms. Li told me she's an Anthropologie fan. Her aesthetic speaks well to the unique, creative vibrations echoing off of many Anthro designs.

Let's get to the chat!

The Infinity Necklace by Peggy Li, as seen on The Vampire Diaries.

Q: Where do you get your jewelry design inspiration from?
I love working with raw materials and just playing with stones and metals until something clicks. The scientist in me loves geometric shapes and inspiration from nature, while the geek in me loves sci-fi and pop culture, so I guess I take influences from all over. Most of all, I want my pieces to be wearable but a little bit unique.

Q: Do your pieces have a theme or underlying idea? 
Sometimes they do, like a shape I’m in love with or technique I’ll carry through a few pieces.  But my designs are very simple and sometimes I just love something that is simple, feminine and sweet. Nothing too complicated!

Q: Did you study fine arts in school?
A: Not at all! I was a science major in college but was doing a lot of creative writing on the side. I wanted to be a screenwriter, which is what brought me to Los Angeles after college. I definitely love all sorts of topics and was very craftsy growing up, doing things like making jewelry for friends.

Q: When you first started, did your friends and family support you?
I remember making jewelry in high school, just designing and making little gifts for friends. My Mom drove me around town to all the different craft stores and a little out-of-the-way jewelry shop so I could buy some raw materials and tools. A pair of pliers I bought I still use to this day.

Q: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I wanted to be a veterinarian! Then I wanted to be a gourmet chef. Then I wanted to be a fashion designer. Then I wanted to be a botanist. Then….

The Rutilated Quartz Earrings by Peggy Li, as seen on Private Practice.

Q: Do you design from a studio or your home? 
I design from my home, I have a corner of the living room totally occupied with my workspace. I worked so often at night when I still had the day job that this was necessary. I’d like to move out of my home at some point into a real studio space, which would allow for more fun tools and techniques.

Q: Do you listen to music while you're designing? If so what do you like to listen to?
No! I’m not a big music person. I have the TV on in the background while I work and it can be tuned to anything from the latest golf tournament to reruns of America's Next Top Model. I consume it all!

Q:  What is it like when you see one of your pieces on a TV show?
The thrill doesn’t get old! I remember squinting at my TV (in the days before HD TV) at an episode of “Buffy”, which is always dark, anyway, and seeing my piece for the first time on TV. It was so weird to think that something that came from my two hands was now captured on film. TV and movies live forever, so it’s very cool.

Q: Is there a specific celebrity you'd love to see wearing one of your designs?
I think seeing my work on women who have amazing personal style like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Alba and Blake Lively would be amazing.

The Weather the Storm Necklace by Peggy Li -- I was so enamored of this piece while
watching Elementary that I paused on this screen shot, hunted down the artist
and forgot to watch the rest of the episode for a few days! 
When I went back to finish the show it was a delight to know I'd soon have this necklace too.
See it on me here.

Q: How has being a small business owner changed your design approach? (If it has changed it.)
Interesting question! I don’t think getting serious about the business has changed my design approach too much – I started by making pieces I wanted to wear for myself and I still only make things that I like, or why do it?

Q: Beyond your business, what are your hobbies or passions?
I love movies and TV.  I also love to play golf and eat yummy food (in San Francisco, this part is easy).

Q:  As an artist are there mediums beyond jewelry you enjoy? 
I've dabbled in sewing, knitting and creative writing. Somehow jewelry making stuck.

Q: We know you're an Anthropologie fan. Is there a piece of yours you'd like to see them carry?
Right now I’m loving little stacking rings, I think those would be a good fit for Anthropologie.

I'm a big fan of stacking rings right now too -- especially when I can spell things out with them! Ms. Li has adorable initial rings that seem very Anthrolike to me. I can also see the Small Chevron Necklace or Sunburst Quartz Point Necklace fitting right in among Anthropologie's jewelry assortment.

It's so cool to me that Ms. Li has a love of science, nature and creative expression equally. I feel the same pull! The love of all three come through in her designs and I'm delighted we got the chance to get to know her a little better. Thanks community for helping to bring us all together!

As a little thank you to all of us, Peggy Li is offering 20% off your order on using the code ANTHRO. One coupon per customer. Offer expires 8/6/13. Cannot be combined with other coupon offers. I know what I'll be using the code on -- the Infinity Necklace. Which design is your favorite?