To accompany the launch of Anthony Lent's collection at ESQUELETO, we were lucky enough to have a in-depth conversation with the artist himself! We are so excited to carry his work in our Oakland boutique and online.
Kayla: Your career has spanned over 50 years of creating fine jewelry for men and women. Did you always specialize in such detailed, conceptual jewelry for wearable art? How has your work evolved over the years?
Anthony Lent: My style of jewelry has always been highly detailed, sculptural, and eccentric. I do really love minimalist and art deco design but in my own work, my greatest influences were those designers and goldsmiths who created what seemed like a micro world in their jewels. Even in other forms of art such as painting I was always drawn to a chaotic style of people like Hieronymus Bosch or Albrecht Dürer. My work has certainly evolved in the amount I am able to “refine” it- I sometimes look back at pieces I sculpted or carved in the '70s and am highly critical of how rough they appear compared to what I am producing today. I would also say that my work has become more approachable and wearable for the everyday as opposed to the time I spent creating solely one off pieces.
K: We love your iconic celestial collection. What inspired you to create it? Do you still add new pieces to it?
A.L.: Celestial imagery and motifs are seen throughout the world and have different meanings across many cultures. I have always loved the anthropomorphization of celestial bodies, especially the style used in victorian art and children’s books. I often refer to my moonface as “The moon of our collective unconscious” because when my collectors see it they have a feeling of relating to something they know or a familiarity with it. Although this in particular is my original sculpt, the imagery is so strong I feel it will remain a timeless style- I am always adding new pieces to this collection.
K: Sometimes the face motif in your work appears strictly human, other times it's the personification of the moon or sun. Can you tell us about the face symbol in your jewelry?
A.L.: I get asked this all of the time and it is difficult to give a precise answer! I suppose my background as a sculptor is what started my fascination with this symbolism- but I think it is more than symbolism. Faces are about complex emotions and feelings. A lot of the time when I am designing a piece, I unintentionally make the face have an expression or look to it that ends up, for better or worse, translated into the jewelry. The faces in my work symbolize a wide range of things- skulls (also a face) symbolize fearlessness and protection, while the human face on my lady bug design is a reminder of the importance of life in all creatures- the face is a symbol of connection to the rest of the world.
K: At ESQUELETO, we've talked to many bespoke jewelry designers who admire you and your work. Are there jewelry designers who you feel that way about? If so, who?
A.L.: Sure there are plenty! This industry is really filled with amazingly talented designers and craftsmen. To name a few of my favorites I would say Otto Jakob (A lesser known in the the US, German jeweler) his work is incredible! I love the work of Sevan, Stephen Webster, Wendy Yue, Munsteiner, Todd Reed, Paul Morelli...there are so many who are doing really innovative and creative things right now.
K: Are you working on any new designs or a new collection now? Can you tell us about it?
A.L.: I am a long time science fiction junkie- that’s all I will say about that right now ;)
K: Lastly, I heard that you were Lauren Wolf's favorite instructor at FIT in New York. Do you have anything you'd like to share about that?
A.L.: Getting to know Lauren as a student, I knew I was learning about an extraordinary person and great talent! A lot of people come through FIT and very few are as successful as she has been. It is a privilege and a great pleasure to be working closely with a former student- what she has built with her business and Esqueleto reminds me that as teachers, we learn just as much from them if not more!