We had the good fortune of connecting with Dina Rudeen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dina, why did you pursue a creative career?
I really don’t believe I actually had a choice in the matter. It was either that or be incredibly unhappy.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been involved in the arts all of my life, (painting, photography, filmmaking) and in my early 20’s I razor focused all of my time toward making music and have spent most of my adult life as a performing singer/songwriter. Yet even when dedicating many hours a day to honing my skills as a musician, I would always find time for a craft project, repurposing the vintage accessories, textiles and found objects I enjoyed collecting throughout the years.
Fairly recently I have come to better understand and embrace my visual artistic sensibilities which have literally wired me with a compulsion to think compositionally. I am still that same child who would spend hours lost in her imagination with a pile of plain wooden blocks. It gives me a certain solace to “figure things out” when working with anything tactile – tweaking and turning the elements of a project until it all makes sense. I was always motivated by the idea of wearing something unique that had a personal history, or a “soul”, as opposed to something that was mass produced. Because I couldn’t afford to purchase the type of well made handcrafted jewelry I wanted to wear, I decided to explore the option of making pieces for myself.
I believe my approach with wood and leather, which veers from the traditional rustic themes commonly used with those materials is what sets my work apart. This along with a commitment to use upcycled elements, making it impossible to replicate my designs, lends to their uniqueness as well.
Making almost entirely one-of-a-kind pieces may not be the most pragmatic business practice, however re-creating multiples of the same thing would drive me up the wall and at some inevitable point, would likely eviscerate the joy from the creative experience.
Interior design is my
constant muse. I am drawn to how it can contain so many varied forms of design (nature, textiles, art, etc), in a cohesive, singular space, exploding with texture.
I am always honored when someone chooses to own something I’ve made. Because I’m completely self taught, and the notion to start a business came pretty much on a whim, I never really took myself or this endeavor that “seriously”. Impostor Syndrome is something I still wrestle with, so a sale is always a warmly validating pleasant surprise.
The creative process is first nature to me however what occurs after that remains quite mystifying. I would never sell anything that I don’t love personally, but I’m not under the assumption that others will feel the same. It always excites me to know that I’m connecting with someone I don’t know in what feels like a very intimate way. I’m still taken aback with how someone will literally adorn their bodies with something I conjured up with my bare hands from a salvaged piece of wood and remnants of leather.
The most harrowing part of what I do is working out of my small apartment. It has forced me to be incredibly resourceful with a Special Ops mentality toward efficiency. It’s a battle I wage continuously, and I must admit some days are better than others. Time management is always a challenge when working from home and as a workaholic, setting reasonable perimeters around when to punch in and when to punch out is absolutely imperative. I have a lot of respect and admiration for those magical freaks of nature who’ve been able to figure this out.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day: The Met
The NY, Queens and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
The Red Rooster in Harlem
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I must shout out my dear friend, poet, healer, musician Elana Belle for always taking time to always compliment the jewelry I made for myself and for encouraging me to take a go at creating pieces to sell.