Pride Month Student Spotlight: Blue Twyman

In today’s Pride Month Q+A, we had the pleasure of speaking with Blue Twyman (they/them), a talented student completing their first year of our BA (Hons) Jewellery Design and Production programme.

Blue’s story is one of self-discovery and artistic evolution. They candidly share their experiences of feeling out of place in the fashion world, taking a long break to explore various creative outlets such as up-cycling clothes, playing music, and crafting small sculptures. It was through this process of exploration and experimentation that Blue found their true calling in jewellery design, a field that beautifully merges their love for fashion, art, and intricate sculptures.

In this interview, Blue discusses their inspirations, experiences as a non-binary artist in the jewellery industry, and the importance of visibility and community for LGBTQ+ creatives. They offer insights into their creative process, favourite techniques, and the valuable lessons they’ve learned at BAJ. 

Watch the video below, or keep reading to learn more about Blue’s artistic journey and discover the unique perspective they bring to the world of jewellery design.

Can you please tell us about your journey as a creative so far?

I started off studying textiles which lead me to studying a BA in Fashion Design after being inspired by designers like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler. 

I felt a bit out of place when I studied fashion design, and felt like I was forcing myself to create things that didn’t align with who I was because I didn’t know who I was really, I just knew I liked these designers. I took a long, long loooonnngg break and after a while I just started creating for the sake of creating and hoped it would surely end up with me figuring out what kind of creative I was. I up-cycled and painted clothes, learnt how to play guitar and made music, filled sketchbooks with random drawings and paintings, made tiny weird sculptures from blu-tack eventually graduating to plasticine and Fimo clay. Then it finally clicked to me that I should try making jewellery because it united all the things I enjoyed, fashion, art, and weird little sculptures!

How long have you been creating/designing jewellery?

I have always had a love for jewellery but the first time I designed jewellery was just over a year ago actually. I made simple rings from silver wire and hammered different textures into them and also experimented with silver clay and wax carving. And now the flood-gates have opened! 

Do you find the jewellery industry to be a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ artists?

Jewellery design I’ve found to be a welcoming space for LGBTQ+ artists, but the jewellery industry as a whole is very male-dominated. Most of the casting houses are owned or run by men which can be intimidating, especially when these environments can often breed misogyny and homophobia. That being said, I’ve never had an issue, these men are professionals and are looking to provide a good service, not judge you on your identity. However, I would like to see the industry become more equalised and promote more opportunity for LGBTQ+ people and women.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your art? Do you think your identity informs your art?

The mythical, the macabre and the magical!

Paula Rego paintings, tarot cards, folklore, fairy tales, old things with stories behind them, symbolism and conceptual art – things that make you think! Mythical creatures and monsters provide endless inspiration to me, there are so many varying accounts of what a demon or a dragon should look like. I love strange trinkets, from kinder surprise toys, weird rocks to teeth and bones. I often end up sketching something odd and it worms its way into my work eventually.

I’ve found that creating is the best way to get to know yourself, so my identity absolutely informs my art. Being a non-binary person moving through a gendered society can be isolating sometimes, I’m often the only trans/non-binary. This year I made a conceptual brooch about breaking through the constructs of gender, using old doll parts and live plants. I really enjoyed the project but I was nervous to make something that was so entwined with my identity, it felt vulnerable.

Who are your favourite LGBTQ+ artists?

Alexander McQueen, Matty Bovan, Ashnikko and their stylists! My friends, Bingo & Seren.

If you had to describe your jewellery style in three words, what would those three words be?

Developing, signifying, mythical

Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve made? If so, what makes it your favourite?

I love the goblin collection I made – specifically the studs and the necklace, they’re definitely my favourite. I think because I carved every single detail it makes the collection really special. They’re so cheeky and fun and I wanted to make something like this for such a long time.

What has been your favourite thing so far that you’ve learned on the BA (Hons) Jewellery Design and Production course at BAJ?

Probably wax carving, but honestly all the skills I’ve learnt have been incredibly valuable. I started this course knowing the bare minimum and not even knowing how to solder properly so improving my workshop skills has been so rewarding because I get to watch how much I’ve improved.

Is there a particular technique or skill that you’re most drawn to?

At the moment my favourite thing would be wax carving because you can pretty much make anything and you watch it come to life little by little, but I love using tools in the workshop too and just really enjoy soldering anything… It’s probably because I get to use fire and that’s always fun. 

Are there any skills/techniques/practices that you want to develop more?

I really want to learn seal engraving. I love drawing so being able to engrave would be a great thing to learn! 

What would your advice be to someone considering coming to the British Academy of Jewellery?

Write down everything you learn and take pictures. Use your open-access workshop time. Utilise the tools you have access to because you won’t be studying forever! Learn how to take constructive criticism. More than anything, utilise the tutors – ask them literally everything you want to know because they have a wealth of knowledge. 

Do you have any specific advice for LGBTQ+ creatives?

Experiment with your practice – as people we’re constantly evolving and your work should too. Your visibility is so important, don’t be afraid to be seen, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Seek out other LGBTQ+ creatives, having a network and a community is extremely important and can offer advice and insight. 

Click here to learn more about our BA (Hons) programme, and don’t forget to fill out an enquiry form on the course page if you’re interested in applying!

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