We were lucky enuogh to interview John Wind who is the designer and artist behind the Maximal Art Jewellery brand. John's career spans over 20 years, and was lucky enough to be photogrpahed by Andy Warhol. John's work has been featured in Vogue, In Style and O, the Oprah Magazine, and numerous other publications.
Firstly, tell us how you came to be a designer?
A life-long passion for the visual arts led me to art school. I won a scholarship to study in London at the Slade School of Art in the early 80’s. The fashion and music scenes were electrifying, and I started making some jewelry for me and my friends as a hobby. It took off and before I knew it I had become a jewelry designer!
Where do you draw your inspirations from?
The past. I love ‘Vintage’ of all ages, from Victorian to the 70’s. That’s the starting point, and then the fun part is finding a modern balance and conterpoint to the old, so it’s cool and ‘gotta have it’.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
This year Maximal Art celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Working with Robbin Cook, the company president, for all these years, growing a brand, employing so many people, making thousands of customers happy, and doing something creative every day is the cumulative highlight.
What is average day like for you?
If I’m at the office, then the mornings are usually administrative—meetings, emails, etc. Then after lunch I put on my designer hat. I also travel a lot—for trunkshows at our best accounts, for wholesale tradeshows, and for buying parts both old and new at factories and flea markets around the US and in Europe.
Do you have a favourite piece amongst your collections?
The 4-face watch bracelet we did in the 80’s is what ‘put us on the map’. I still think it is stylish, fun, wearable, and unique.
Is there a particular person that you have always wanted to create a piece of jewellery for (like a celebrity)?
I’d love to make Michelle Obama a necklace...
Having read the about page on your website, you seem to connect with your customer on a very personal level – is this intentional?
Before art school I wanted to be a novelist, and I think that our jewelry is very narrative. It tells a story, it’s personal, it is uplifting, it starts conversations. So the personal connection with customers is a natural outcome of that. Also, Robbin and I both encourage a real, friendly, fun interaction between the company and the customers. It’s part of our philosophy.
What are your views and interpretation on style?
Style is different than Fashion. It’s more about personal style, and while it can be inspired by trends and newness, it’s more consistent. ‘John’s Gal’s’ are our friends and customers who really get that, whether their style is to layer 6 necklaces at a time or to just wear stud earrings and a chunky initial bracelet.
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a designer?
Make stuff, show it around, wear it yourself, go to stores, check out tradeshows... And more than anything, be creative and original. There’s so much out there already. It takes a unique point of view to excite buyers and customers and to cut through the clutter.