Sinae Baik is a South Korean jewelry artist, winner of the AUTOR Media Award at Collectiva Joalharia de Autor 2019 exhibition. She is also an jewelry instructor at MJC College and at Wonkwang University in Korea. Her passion is working with the enamel method, the so-called Art of Fire ⫸ “I think the future of Korean jewelry is a positive one – the level of jewelry education and jewelry quality are high.”
How does it feel receiving the AUTOR Media Award at Collectiva Joalharia de Autor?
When I read the news I couldn’t believe what I saw – in Korea was night time, I was too tired. I read it again and again. I was honored. In fact, one of my goals for this year was to win an award, and I’m very happy that AUTOR and Collectiva Joalharia de Autor made my dream came true. I feel like I am recognized as a jewelry artist all over the world. For me this is the biggest gift of the year. Thank you!
Is there a story behind your jewelry experience?
One day I woke up and just wanted to do it. I think it was destiny. I went to a university with a related subject thinking it’s not such a big deal. My mom wasn’t surprised when I told her that I didn’t know a thing about craft, but applied to the Jewelry Design Department anyway. When she was pregnant with me, she dreamed about having a silver hairpin which was made of enamel. At this point, my accidental choice feels like destiny.
If you were a piece of jewelry, what would you be?
I think brooches are the best. I love to capture stories, to write narratives. I always take pictures and do a lot of sketches before creating a piece. The brooch is like a white canvas that holds those records. And when someone is wearing my jewelry, it seems as if I had exhibited a painting in a museum.
I also have a favorite brooch: Someone waiting. This is one of my first works of cloisonne. In school I worked a lot to find my style. Someone waiting is made after a sketch I drew while waiting for a train at Seoul Station. My work may refer to someone, but sometimes it is unspecified who exactly. Waiting is exciting – but somehow this work transmits loneliness, rather than excitement.
How do you feel the South Korean jewelry stage?
Korea’s jewelry sector has steadily developed. In my opinion, it can be divided into two categories: commercial jewelry and art jewelry. Consumers generally prefer commercial jewelry. There may be many reasons, but I think the consumers encounter commercial jewelry often. Craft artists, however, have been working on a number of exhibitions and projects to make consumers aware of their work. In comparison with the period I first started crafting, I can feel that the hearts of consumers are open to art jewelry now.
I think the future of Korean jewelry is a positive one – the level of jewelry education and jewelry quality are high. The artists are active in the industrial field and in the art field, they are active worldwide as well. Another aspect to be taken into consideration is the rising price of gold, which developed the use of alternative metals and other materials. This allows the artists more flexible thinking and free expression.
What do you think is the hardest thing in being a jewelry artist in South Korea? But what satisfies you the most?
I think financial problems are probably the hardest. This is true not only for jewelry artists, but also for people in other arts. And not only in Korea. You always fight your own ideals. But still, I define this job as my calling in life. I work at school and after class, when I play my favourite music in a quiet classroom, drop a cup of tea – this is my small moment of satisfaction. And when my work is finished, I sent it out to the world. The public’s positive response is always giving me great satisfaction, as well as the driving force that allows me to work on a new piece.
Do you have a motivational motto you follow?
Some may say that I am a cautious person. Ironically, my motto is Que Sera, Sera. This motto gives me that momentum. When I’m too cautious, when my work slows down, when I’m in a difficult situation, Que Sera, Sera is like a magic spell. This seems to apply not only to my work, but to my life too.