20 May - Chicago Creatives
If you are familiar with the jewelry scene in Chicago, you know that designers Meghan Lorenz of Cities In Dust and Lindsay Lewis are two artists making waves in the community! At Freehand Chicago, we work with both designers, hosting workshops and popup-shops. We caught up with our creative partners, Lindsay and Meghan, to talk process and what it means to be a Chicago Creative.
Freehand Chicago: Tell us about yourself and how you got your start creating jewelry.
Meghan Lorenz of Cities In Dust: My name is Meghan Lorenz and I graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2007. My degree was in Fashion Retail Management and I started off doing window display at Fields as it was transitioning to Macys. The recession hit not long after which really changed the game. I started to “gig” it for a while I was contemplating leaving Chicago because there is really small community/fashion scene here. We have no garment district which means clothing will never thrive the way it does in NYC or LA. I met the owners of Eskell, which is a boutique in Wicker Park with a house brand of clothing. I eventually got hired on by them and assisted in all avenues of managing both businesses. I LOVED jewelry buying. I began taking metal classes and eventually became comfortable metalsmithing. I started my brand “Cities In Dust” a couple of years later. The internet was a different place at the time and one design in particular went “viral” and really changed things for me. I’ve worked other jobs or had a side hustle up until 2 years ago and now CID is a very full time job for me.
Lindsay Lewis: I grew up in Chicagoland and got my start at jewelry metalsmithing in high school. At 15, I was instantly hooked on working with metal and kept studying it through college at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I also dabbled in furniture making, sculpture, and design, which still influence my work today. While in school, I worked for jewelers and artists and realized my goal of being self-employed (I can never go back!). Once I graduated, I worked out of a communal metalsmithing studio, where I met Meghan and she really helped me understand the business side of jewelry. Fast forward to today and it’s been four years that I’ve been working as a jeweler full time, which is a total dream come true.
FHCHI: As designers, where do you find inspiration?
ML: I don’t have one particular place I find inspiration. It comes from everywhere. I’m having a moment right now where I’m actually digging most of it up from the past. There is an exciting revival of trends in this moment which are mimicking a time when in the early 90s when I first discovered my love for fashion and accessories. I’m really enjoying going back to that time. It’s bringing up a lot of fun memories and getting me back in touch with my very young self. Every body of work is different and stems from a different head space.
LL: I love the strong, bold, linear elements of Art Deco architecture. I find a lot of inspiration from walking or riding my bike through Chicago’s neighborhoods and looking at the building ornament. My current collection is inspired by 1970’s graphics with lots of fluid lines. And some ideas will come from just playing with the metal and experimenting in the studio.
FHCHI: What is your creative process like? How do you find motivation to continuously create?
ML: My creative process always begins with a mood-board or a collection of images. I really want to exude a feeling with each collection and the mood-board helps put that into a sharp focus. From there I do sketches and samples, look books and online listings. The process of making a new body of work from start to finish is about 6 months or so.
LL: I like creating collections— I get to take my time with an idea and explore it fully with different types of jewelry. I usually try to get myself on a schedule to create two collections a year but I get behind sometimes! I start with a really general design element and do lots of sketches where probably 1/10 get made into samples. I like to look at the collection as a whole and ask myself “is this cohesive, does it transition well from my previous collections, and is it new and interesting?”
Designing is my favorite part about what I do. The challenging thing is finding the time to be able to sit down and focus on solely on that. As a business owner you wear many hats and getting into a creative headspace can be hard sometimes.
FHCHI: As leaders in the Chicago creative scene, what do you love most about the community here?
ML: I really value the community in Chicago. The jewelry community is extremely generous and resourceful. We all work together and support each other. It’s a huge reason why I stay and I’m grateful for it every day. We all share information, ideas, sources…. it’s really wonderful and supportive. I feel so fortunate to have such great people on my side, and also to be in a place where I can feel really good about what I’m able to give in return.
LL: Creatives here are so open to working together across industries. Everyone is helping everyone succeed and it doesn’t feel especially competitive. It’s awesome how there’s always new things popping up—it’s really refreshing. The jewelry community here is near and dear to my heart. Everyone is so supportive, communicative, and talented… I love that I can call Chicago my home-base!
Join us for an exclusive workshop with Meghan Lorenz of Cities In Dust this month!