There is something in the air when visiting the shop / atelier of jewelry designer Lien Herreijgers in Deurne. Literally. The smell that meets you, reveals that this lady loves experimenting during the creation process. 'Color' is her signature and by combining composite (resin) with color pigments, Lien creates her own disctinctive world. Her mission? Creating original and colorful designs that are portable and affordable at the same time, designed to carry with you for a long time. Curious about Lien’s approach, I took a look behind the scenes…
Color is key
Since the age of 6, Lien was always active in a creative setting. Every Wednesday and Saturday were filled with art school, where a broad range of activities were possible. Gradually, Lien developed a strong interest in graphics that also included etching and lino, from which her first study as textile designer emerged. "I remember an assignment in the 5th grade with lino: I made a collage of nine images in different colors. To achieve this result, I made up to 100 prints in order to determine the final color combination." An example from the past that turned out to be an omen for her current collections and working method. Color and experimenting with materials is what Lien does and are the basis of her beautiful label.
From textile to jewellery design
After studying textile design, Lien started an additional Bachelor of jewelry design in Antwerp. And this time on her own, without any financial support from her parents. "The combination of hard work during the summer to pay for my studies and moving in with my boyfriend all while studying sounds harder than it was. Actually, it wasn’t that bad at all."
In 2014, Lien decided to fully focus on the further development of her own label, which initially consisted of textiles and jewelry, and now only jewelry. "Probably because I felt I was more talented in jewelry design than in textiles. And with jewelry I also felt that I could really push my signature on my designs and create an added value through handicrafts. Much more than I could do with textiles."
The existence of her own label wasn’t built in a day. It grew rather organically. "I never saw myself as an independent. It was neither encouraged from home. I was actually planning to go to work in a textile setting, as an employee. But during my search for a job, I never stopped creating and before I knew it, I had a jewel collection that I started to sell at small markets."
When working with my hands, I discover a lot of new things and basically, I realize I can do anything. There are no restrictions, while industrial designs sometimes have them.
Experiment means freedom
During her training in jewelry design, Lien was acquainted with many materials and new techniques. A new world was out there, and Lien discovered the possibilities of composite, and more specifically, resin. "You start from something liquid and you can do anything with it. Also colors allow me to create what I want to and to me, this means absolute freedom. In the beginning, these endless possibilities can feel limiting because you don’t know the materials well. But once you possess the expertise and knowledge, you can fully experiment with composite and discover new things."
When working with resin, Lien finds it challenging to upgrade this material. "Resin is often only associated with plastic creations". By applying the right techniques, materials and color pigments, she creates a result that is much richer than the base from which it is derived.
A very long and intensive experimental phase is often undertaken prior to each design. And yet Lien has consciously chosen this path. Sometimes it’s a combination of colors, sometimes it’s the material that leads to new ideas. And sometimes, the design determines the chosen color and the material. Her sketchbook is always nearby. It is filled with spiraling designs. Initially large and outstanding, later on more downsized in the creation process. To make it more portable. It happens very often that some sketches form a whole only after a few months, which then eventually are developed into a full-fledged collection.
Glimpse of the past
While chitchatting, Lien's dyslexia pops up and the way her parents and some teachers have been crucial in the formation of her personality. Her parents always encouraged her to be independent. This was nurtured by an open attitude, a "hard work will be rewarded" mentality and a focus on talent. Needless to say, keep trying if something doesn’t work, doesn’t make sense. "It's a wealth to know yourself well and to follow your own path. Even if this means leaving your comfort zone. Over the years, this is getting easier because I know when and how to trust on myself. I easily feel when I'm unhappy with something.” This reflection has grown out of some meetings with people who looked beyond the form. And it has given Lien the confidence to not be stopped by restrictions and to surround herself with people who are helping her to evolve.
In 2014, I started a coaching program in developing myself as an independent and the setup of my label. If I would have had this knowledge a couple years ago, I probably would have done some things differently, more focused, and at all levels. Because there is so much going on.
Looking into the future
Color remains, but making other predictions would only limit herself. The material may evolve, but experimenting and discovering new things will always remain part of her creation process. "As long as I can continue to discover new things, I like doing what I do".
It's nice to see that more and more people dare to choose statement jewellery.
"Being your own boss is the best thing about this job." Lien gladly takes on the stress that goes with it. "The stress itself is less fun, but somehow I seek it," she laughs. "There is a lot to do, but if you always keep the bigger picture in mind, the goal, you realize that all of that (also when it is less fun) is needed to bring you one step closer to your final goal." Lien learned to outsource things that she couldn’t do or didn’t enjoy doing, so she could focus on her creations.
3 more hours a day
When Lien is not working, she likes spending time with friends and family. All additional free time would be spared for the acquisition of new impressions: city trips, walking in the city, cultural activities via contemporary art, cooking, and good food are always on her to-do list.
I return home, imbued with Lien's experimental philosophy and lots of color. After today, resin will never be what it was. From now on, I will always be wondering how the texture or the color of a package in the supermarket could inspire Lien Hereijgers to future designs.