ARKIVIA is a jewelry and graphic arts project by Barcelona based artist Clàudia Torrents Herrero. She talks us through the process of moulding two creative paths into one, her inspirations and which pieces of jewelry look good on anyone.
There is a certain mediterranean aesthetic to your jewelry, a delicacy in some of your statement pieces but also a playfulness that makes them very wearable. What are some of your inspirations?
Most of my aesthetic references have a retro aspect and they come from different fields: illustration, comics, advertisements or films. I tend to collect broken objects, stones, scraps, pieces of printed fabrics, and I arrange them like an analog Pinterest moodboard. I’m very attracted to saturated colors, clean compositions and textures that are appealing to touch. I’m also inspired by fake vintage images from Toilet Paper Magazine, posters of Braulio Amado, Godard’s film colours, antique jewellery you see in museums...
I guess I’m attracted by strong visual and conceptual images, and also by iconic characters from stories. I feel comfortable with this “playfulness” you mention, because that’s one of the things that I tend to express with my pieces: to perform, to play, to touch, to discover. I like to think of jewellery as something meaningful and festive.
Like a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Sophia Loren in Boccaccio 70 or my grandmother Vicenta at my parents wedding - It all fits in mediterranean scenarios.
"I had the thought of expanding the ways to create an illustration, I wanted to make my own tools".
Clàudia Torrents with her jewelry
I also had the thought of expanding the ways to create an illustration, I wanted to make my own tools, so it came to mind the idea of the ancient “signet rings” (when they were used to sign) it was the perfect combination of what I was looking for! And here’s where jewellery and printmaking said “I do”, and I started to investigate the concept of jewellery “that makes drawings” and drawings that inspire jewellery.
One of the many reasons that make ARKIVIA a unique project is that you combine jewelry with illustration and graphic design. What is the story behind wanting to marry these disciplines?
Well I’ve been interested in both disciplines for a long time but I was developing them separately, and doing more printmaking than jewellery at the beginning. At the technical level, both engraving (the technique I used and use to make illustrations) and jewelry are not so different. They have the metal in common, and other similar processes and materials. When doing printmaking sometimes I loved the printing plate itself more than the result of the finished copies, I felt I wanted to keep it, to wear it.
You are creating a collection called "Micro·Macro", could you tell us a bit about it?
Yes, I’m still developing it. It originates from two prints I did a while ago about different cosmos. The idea is to transfer these atmospheres into jewels. For some pieces I’m taking the original printing plate and making copies of some of the parts, bringing into 3d objects the shapes and textures. For other pieces I carve the wax as a brand new printing plate, creating stimulating surfaces and shapes.
In the end, Micro·Macro is an experimentation around process, a catalogue of textures that come from space, microorganisms and sea structures. Like ancient illustrated encyclopedias where they have compilations of everything classified by topics, shapes, colours, numbers, patterns…
"I like making personalized pieces because it connects me with people".
Photos by Duna Vallès,
You also produce pieces by commission. How do you balance the vision of the client versus your own creative direction?
I’d say the most important thing is to sit and talk to know more about the person, asking questions to get to the outcome they want.
I like making personalized pieces because it connects me with people. Sometimes it’s difficult to think of something from scratch but right now most of the commissioned work I’m receiving is people that have seen my work and want me to do what I want. Some are looking for specific “textures”, and others want a jewel to sign their own art.
"I feel very motivated when there's a common objective, it's kind of a group choreography where everyone puts their best dance moves".
You have collaborated extensively with the music duo Tarta Relena. What are some of the similar threads in your different artistic forms that make this union a match?
With Marta and Helena we’ve known each other for years, we were in an amateur theatre company, so it’s not that weird that we’re still making projects together. Despite taking different paths I think what unites us, apart from a strong friendship, is that we treat things carefully, enjoy and go deep into the topic, and of course we have a very similar sense of humor. There’s also a mutual admiration in our work so that makes it easier to make this as a super like match.
I've had the pleasure to work and collaborate with you in different projects, (mainly some crazy music videos). I’m always amazed at the results you get when you set your mind to any creation, and I think the common theme of all your works is this great sense of style and an ambitious work ethic. From Art Direction to costume design (without forgetting those glorious wax heads in “My Matador” of The Bird Yellow) How do you choose these projects and what do you like most about exploring other artistic expressions?
I’m a very curious and social person, and I really like to make projects that involve other people. I feel very motivated when there’s a common objective, it’s kind of a group choreography where everyone puts their best dance moves. Exploring other fields makes me learn a lot about other ways of working, points of view, organising methods, and also it’s a challenge for my stubbornness. And yes! Those wax heads were tricky business, but see, from that I learned how to make moulds.
Although during this quarantine I have realised that for now I will need to make a pause of collaborations and focus solely on Arkivia.
"Exploring other fields makes me learn a lot about other ways of working, points of view, organising methods, and also it's a challenge for my stubborness".
What are your favourite materials to work with?
I love carving wax. It just relaxes me a lot. It reminds me of carving a linoleum or wood printing plate for engraving. There is some hazardous matter when doing both things, a connection with the material. Also, I love soldering metal, I feel very powerful and primitive when using fire.
A piece of jewelry that looks good on anyone?
BIG HOOPS! For sure, for all genders. Also, for those who are more discreet, I would say a pin.
What is a good playlist you listen to whilst creating in your studio?
Hahah it really depends on my mood. But mostly I like to listen to dancy music while I work to keep the energy high; from R&B, Funk, Flamenco, to Reaeggeton. Other days I just need silence to focus on. During the production process I also tend to listen to funny podcasts to feel in good company.
What is next for ARKIVIA?
Lots of things! I want to keep on the research between graphic arts and jewellery. Bringing direct graphic techniques onto jewellery and learn how to engrave on metal, stones… I also need to learn some more jewellery techniques as I’m teaching myself. It's a slow process. But I'm motivated.
Interview by Sarah Zelich