Tyler Drakonia has experience in a variety of mediums, such as acrylics and sewing, but is currently working as an apprentice goldsmith. In their shop, NuanenOrúm, you can find the jewelry that they make at the academy and in their spare time.
Welcome to Artisans Co-op, Tyler!
What’s the name of your business, if you use one? Why did you choose it? – What do you create/sell?
NuanenOrúm, meaning “beautiful serpent” in a fantasy language (from Eragon), and the inspiration is my own beautiful pet serpent, Uzar’roc. I’m an apprentice goldsmith and currently sell pieces I make in the academy as well as other jewelry I make on the side.
Do you currently have a shop or website up and running? Where can we find you?
My Etsy store technically still exists, but I’m not actively using it.
How long have you been creating? What made you want to start your business/start selling your art?
I used to sell poured acrylic paintings (ca. 2018) and then handsewn masks when the pandemic started. Once I was accepted into the academy, the focus pivoted into jewelry and other metal crafts.
What does your creative process look like? If you work with a creative partner, how is it to work together, or do you have different roles in the process?
I don’t really have a set process; either I have an idea of a design pop into my head and reverse engineer it so I can make it with the skills I currently have, or I don’t have any idea what I’m doing and just start making something and see where it goes from there.
What part of creation do you enjoy the most? (The process, seeing the finished product, seeing people’s reactions to receiving the art/product, etc.)
All of it, but especially the making. I thoroughly enjoy simply working with precious metals, spending hours at my workbench with metal dust covering my hands at the end of the day.
What made you want to get into goldsmithing? And what about it stands out from what you’ve done in the past (i.e. masks and acrylics)?
My initial answer is a bit esoteric and metaphorical: its the weight and feel of metal, the imposing nature of something fine, flowy and beautiful made from this solid, massive material.
My path to goldsmithing is more “straight forward” (not really): I’ve always loved handcrafting things, and was a bit frustrated by the lack of jewelry in my style, so I’ve been sketching out designs for a long time. When I was around 13, I made my first 3 silver rings in a small 2-day course and I loved the craft already. Following that, I got into wire wrapping, due to the affordability compared to goldsmithing, but didn’t really seriously consider becoming a goldsmith yet (maybe for lack of knowledge that that was a possibility at all). I continued with school, aiming for the very high grades necessary to study molecular medicine. With the pandemic exacerbating my mental instability and making school even worse for me than it had been before, I saw that unless I did perfect on my finals, I would not have the needed grades and even then, I would still have to do another full year of school before studying for another 3.5 years to just get my bachelor.
So, I dropped out 2 weeks before the finals, had a short think, walked into the local goldsmiths store on my way home and asked how to become a goldsmith. He explained my options to me, but urged me to go to an academy rather than a classic apprenticeship, so I enrolled at the Zeichenakademie in Hanau, one of the few trade schools specialized in gold- and silversmithing, artisanal metalworking, and engraving in Germany.
I think, had someone told me about the academy when I was 13, I would have definitely “saved time”, instead of forcing myself through school. I don’t regret it, since I did meet many friends and my now boyfriend in my final year, but I am definitely a bit bitter about how vocational schools and the craft in general was talked down upon to me, making me not even consider the possibility of not studying at first.
How it stands out ties in to my first answer; the medium makes all the difference to me. Metal resists.
Also, goldsmithing as a profession utilizes my full potential, in my opinion. I’m great at forming a 3D model of my idea in my head, as well as being adept at 3D modeling, a crucial skill for a modern goldsmith if you want to make complex designs. Shaping material to my design is fun to me, seeing everything take shape as I imagine it. And I’ve always liked sparkly stones and shiny metal.
What is your Number One piece of advice for fellow artisans (biggest lesson learned)?
I’m not really in it long enough to have any major advice, but I feel it’s important to keep up with self care; If you aren’t taking care of your own mental and physical health, you wont be able to be creative to your fullest extent.
What is your biggest inspiration?
My pet python Uzar’roc. I love organic shapes, and snakes are so fascinating and beautiful. The shape of the scales, ripple of muscles as they move, their pattern, it’s all natural and so pretty. If I had to name a person though, I’d say Pablo Cimadevila, especially since I’m in a wheelchair now too: his jewelry, workshop, cinematography and dedication to the craft are awe inspiring.
Since the name of your shop is inspired by Eragon, do any of your works ever also take inspiration from it or any kind of fantasy elements in general?
I don’t explicitly take inspiration from Eragon, or any fantasy medium. Rather, Eragon played a great role in initially shaping my style and aesthetic. I started out by drawing the dragons of my imagination, reinterpreting their distinct lines into fantastical jewelry designs. I don’t think anyone would be able to take a look at my style and definitively point out a fantasy influence. It’s very organic, but pointy, aggressive yet soft, too modern for a renaissance faire, too flowy for cyber-futurism. The closest label I would put on my style is solarpunk, just for the hypermodern natural aesthetic, or lunarpunk for the more dusky elegant side.
Is there a specific niche or target audience you are trying to reach with your art?
Not anyone specifically. I make things I like, and if anyone else likes them, thats just a bonus.
What do you hope to gain from joining the Artisans Co-op?
I’m an anarchist, and I really really don’t like compromising my values, so the structuring and mission of the Co-op falls in line with what I envision for a collective, and lets me sell my art without lining a faceless corporation’s pockets.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Since this is specifically for the pride feature, I feel I should mention that I’m intergender (cis-intersex), because its a huge part of my identity and has shaped my style greatly. I want my jewelry to reflect my own identity and experience and not conform to conventional expectations of female or male targeted jewelry, because it’s meant for everyone. Dividing what jewelry is meant for whom is stupid and irrelevant, and everyone deserves shiny metal things if they want them!
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