We had the good fortune of connecting with Karla Hackman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Karla, how do you think about risk?
I had never been a risk taker. I have never been interested in jumping from a plane, eating strange and unknown insects, or walking over hot coals to reach a volcano. However, a certain amount of risk helps us grow and evolve, teaches us who we are, and gives us strength and confidence. Seven years ago, I took a large risk and left a comfortable and rewarding career as a college professor and administrator to become a full-time metalsmith and jewelry designer. At the time, I was quite a novice jeweler. I knew I needed a change and creating art set my mind on fire. I reveled in the creative process, and I loved the notion of managing and creating my own business, so I took the leap. In retrospect, it probably was a risky decision, but I have no regrets. My art has grown, and I am now art jeweler who works in silver and gold sculptural designs with gemstones. I have evolved personally as well. I am more confident in my decision making, I have come to recognize that I enjoy the independence of working for and by myself, and I am capable of building new technical skills as an artist and as a business owner. Because of the COVID pandemic, I have had to take the risk of pivoting my business to an online operation as my galleries closed and my art shows were canceled. This year I have developed a new website and actively engaged in social media platforms. I am learning how to professionally photograph my work and how to run a more efficient business operation. Taking risks has indeed paid off, and more importantly, I am a happier and more independent person because of it. 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art jewelry is both refined and organic, blending an old world, organic finish with contemporary design. I am influenced by architectural forms and botanical elements and integrate those with beautiful and unusual gemstones. More recently, I have been mixing silver and gold to create pieces with high contrast and visual appeal. I am also working on a new collection of jewelry and I am super excited about how it combines contemporary and experimental forms with texture and mixed metals, including high karat gold. I hope to share that collection in early 2021. I started creating jewelry as a hobby in 2007, and I began my working with wire-wrapped, semi-precious gemstone beads. After a professional move took me to a new community college in 2011, I started taking metal arts classes. I took classes on and off for a couple of years and then made the leap to a full-time artist in 2013. Since then I have taken occasional metal arts classes, short workshops, and also experimented with new techniques on my own. I am a learner and love to learn new skills and techniques, so that has always been fun. I am influenced by the natural world, including the desert and mountains I live in, and the innovations of humankind. I love classic forms as well as modern designs. My goal is to create jewelry that sparks joy and enhances the natural beauty of those who wear it. Running my own business has been rewarding, and it has been a lot of work. I have had to teach myself a lot about marketing, bookkeeping, the art fair world, and computer skills, as well as art photography. I continue to build these skills by reading, workshops, and trial and error. I have learned patience and resilience while trying to keep a positive attitude and an ever grateful heart along the way.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Santa Fe, NM, and this is city unlike any other. Of course, we would visit the Santa Fe Plaza and Canyon Road to see amazing art. I would also visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and a museum or two on Museum Hill, as well as Bandelier National Monument. We would take a couple of great hikes up the mountain into the Santa Fe National Forest and probably out to Tent Rocks. A must see is also Meow Wolf, for an imaginative, other-worldly art experience for people of all ages. We would also take a day to soak at Ojo Caliente in the hot springs and do a day drive on the high road to Taos. For food, the choices are endless. Some of my favorites are: La Boca for Spanish Tapas; Clafoutis for amazing French breakfast, lunch, or pastry; Cafe Pasqual’s, wonderful organic Oaxacan-style cuisine; and Paper Dosa, fresh South Indian cuisine. We love to cook as well, so I would definitely entertain on my own patio which looks out into the high desert landscape.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My life partner, Russ, has been a constant encourager throughout my journey. He sees every new design, listens to my new ideas, and is a support at every step along the way. I am so grateful that he continues to be my biggest fan.

Website: https://www.karlahackman.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karlahackman
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EarthandStoneJewelry
Youtube: Karla Hackman

Image Credits
Tim Wompler Margot Geist (image of the pendant with the pink and blue sapphires)

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