Artisan Interviews Alaina Burnett Vitality Fine Art Show “Creating Life Pathways” Event at Kradwell in Tosa

How Artisans Create, Artisan Interviews with Artisans showing at the Vitality Fine Art show “Creating Life Pathways Event. See how an Artists mind works, is Alaina Burnett.


First off – can we have a little background information on you – Where you live? (If you don’t mind answering)

I was born, raised, and still reside in West Allis, Wisconsin. I absolutely love where I live! My home studio is right by Greenfield Park so it’s the perfect for me. I get to be surrounded by nature but am still close to the city.

What first drew you to Art?

I have always been creative. I have loved to write, draw, paint, and simply create from a very young age. I feel blessed to have a family that supported and encouraged my creativity from the beginning. There was never a question in my mind that I would dedicate my life to art. When I discovered jewelry making I knew that I had found the perfect medium for me. I have collected gems and fossils most of my life and ultimately found that jewelry design is the perfect way to express my fascination with geology and ancient history.

How long ago was that?

I began making jewelry when I was twelve years old (sixteen years ago). I actually started with seed beads and fishing line! I then began to study the art form of beading and developed my skill and style over time. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I really began to develop my voice as an artist. I began to fold together my love for history, literature and nature and ultimately created my style. I like to think of my jewelry as having a sophisticated style with a bold and archaeological edge.

How would you describe your medium?

Jewelry is a captivating medium. Because it is functional art it affects people in many ways at once. You see the jewelry piece itself, how it accentuates the beauty of the person wearing it, as well as the way it compliments what the person is wearing with it. Jewelry can both be the stand out piece of an ensemble or it can blend with it in order to complete the picture. I love that I get to make a statement when creating the piece and its owner gets to carry that statement further by how they choose to wear it.

As I developed my style, I decided to work specifically with natural gemstones, fossils, and sterling silver. There has always been something very alluring about natural gems and fossils to me. Knowing they come from the earth and the gorgeous colors, patterns, and textures are created naturally fascinates me to this day. I chose sterling silver because it is the most reflective of the precious metals. My work is focused on the stones that I use but I love to incorporate sterling silver to create contrast and little pops of light and sparkle.

What does it feel like to create?

Nothing could ever replace the joy I feel when creating my jewelry. I love what I do and designing new pieces for my collection is a lot of fun! Nearly all of my work is one of a kind so I literally get to start from scratch pretty much every time I sit down at my work table. I hand select my materials in person so that I can choose the best quality but also so that I can begin the design process in my mind before I even get to my studio. My favorite way to design is to first choose the stone or fossil that will be the focal point and study it for a while. I pick out the colors, patterns, and textures and begin to pull other materials that will draw those characteristics out of the focal piece. It really feels like I get to play with my favorite toys for a living. I feel very blessed to be able to dedicate my life to my passion.

What motivates you?

My motivation comes from the passion I have for jewelry and the natural gems, fossils, and precious metals I work with. Jewelry making is in my blood! So from both a creative and business point of view, my motivation starts there. I feel a deep need to express myself creatively in this medium because it is what I love. Likewise I am motivated to be a professional jewelry artist because I literally cannot imagine doing anything else with my life. I love to write and have other creative passions, but it always comes back to my jewelry. I know that this is my life’s calling and I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to get out there and make it happen!

What inspires you?

I am most inspired by my materials but my love for ancient history and nature always find their way into my designs. While I do not believe in the folklore attached to gemstones, I do have a deep love for them. To me, it shows the creativity of God. No man could ever create something as beautiful as the stones we are able to pull from the earth. Likewise, I love to use our forests, deserts and oceans as inspiration for my work. The power and majesty of nature serves as inspiration for most artists for a reason! There is such diversity and raw beauty around us! I have also always been fascinated with ancient times. I am most inspired by Egyptian, Roman, and Greek history but have recently began to delve deeper into my Scottish heritage and have incorporated that into my work as well. Through the use of specific stones, color combinations, and even sterling silver replicas of ancient Roman coins I am able to combine all of my interests in order to create a style that is uniquely my own.

Are you working on any new Art Projects?

One of my favorite aspects of being a jewelry artist is that there are always opportunities to grow. I have always had a love for precious metals and have been slowly accumulating the skills and tools needed to expand into traditional metalsmithing. I have just finished the expansion of my studio space and have most of the tools I need! So, right now my main focus is continuing my education and diving into this new adventure! My mind is filled with so many ideas for this new collection. I have notebooks filled with sketches! Thankfully I have a sketchbook app on my iPhone now so I can make quick drawings on the go without having to carry a sketchbook with me everywhere. Metalsmithing opens up so many doors of creative opportunity and I am eager to see my ideas finally take form!

What advice would you a young Artisan in promoting their Art?

Three simple words: go for it! Don’t let fear of failure or rejection hold you back from chasing your dreams. It’s not easy to make a living as an artist, but it’s also not impossible. If you dedicate yourself to your craft and are willing to put in the hard work you can make it. It’s a challenge to balance being an artist and running a business. That is why having a plan is so essential! I recommend actually sitting down and writing a proper business plan so that you know what you’re getting into. Once you have those details figured out, force yourself to make a schedule for your week. As odd as it may sound, you really do have to schedule creative time for yourself! I have days dedicated to creating, business contacts and research, photography, and the running of my website and online shops. It’s so easy to get caught up in the fanciful dream of just casually creating art to our heart’s content every day! In reality there has to be balance between the art and the business. Don’t sit around dreaming of what could be. Have those dreams but then make a plan and take action!

Do you think that being an Artisan is something that is in your blood?

Yes, I think we are born with talents, passions and abilities that are unique to each individual. I believe everyone has creativity in them but we use it in different ways. Being an artisan is a specific form of creative expression. Like I said earlier, jewelry making is in my blood. You know when you have found your calling – it’s that one thing that draws you in and won’t let go. When you wake up in the morning and just can’t wait to get to work you know that you have found your life’s purpose. I truly believe all of us are born with a purpose!

Or is it something that can be learned?

All of us are creative in some way and just have different ways of expressing it. Whether you’re a teacher developing a way to reach a student most people would have given up on, a doctor researching a new method of treating a disease, a construction worker figuring out a better and more efficient way of completing a project or an artist pushing yourself to try new techniques or mediums we all use creativity in our daily lives. I think we can certainly learn to use that creativity in ways we had not thought of before. That I why education is so important! When we are shown something new or even something we already knew but from a different perspective it can inspire us in ways we never would have imagined on our own.

What is the best advice you have ever been given in your field of Art?

Know when to walk away. Most of the time the jewelry I create just comes together naturally and I am thrilled with the piece right away. However, there are times when something just doesn’t feel right. When that happens I like to lay out a piece or even partially construct it and then leave it for an hour or two (and sometimes even for an entire day). Looking at it with a fresh perspective totally changes how I see the piece. I can better see what is missing or what needs to be tweaked after walking away for a little while!

How many hours do you work daily on your Art and what are your daily tasks for your work?

I am blessed to be able to dedicate my life to my art. Finding the balance between creating my jewelry and running my business is definitely the most challenging aspect of the equation. At this point I spend about 6-10 hours a week actually creating jewelry. The rest of the time is spent running my website, updating my online shops, contacting boutiques and galleries, writing articles for publication and doing the necessary bookkeeping and inventorying needed to run a proper business. The allure of being a free-spirited artist just playing in my studio all day is certainly captivating! The problem is that you can’t really make a living that way (well, unless you can afford an assistant or two!). I just recently made a spreadsheet schedule for myself which dictates what I devote each day to and even breaks my days down by the hour. I am amazed by how much that has increased my productivity! Surprisingly, it’s also helped me creatively. Now that I know “Wednesday is a day completely dedicated to jewelry making” I am filled with anticipation and ideas just keep flowing. So, as much as artists generally don’t want to hear it, making a schedule and sticking to it really does make an impact!
What will you be showing at the Vitality Fine Art Fair, Creating Life Pathways; in the Learning Gardens at Kradwell?

This will be the first show of my summer tour so I am very excited to debut my new collection! By popular demand I will be unveiling a collection of bracelets which feature a sterling silver extender chain which makes the fit completely customizable anywhere from 6 ½ inches to 8 ½ inches. This will allow women of all shapes and sizes to be able to wear them which is something that matters very much to me. I want all women to feel beautiful and be able to express themselves through the jewelry they wear! You will find a lot of exotic colors, rich textures and bold patterns in the stones I have used in my newest pieces. I am constantly amazed by the beauty of the natural gemstones I work with. They really do take my breath away. I can’t wait to show everyone this new collection!

More interview to follow

Learn more about the show or get a application click here

More interviews to follow-You can read about the other Artisans who will be showing by clicking here


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