If you are thinking that it is too late for you to build a career, for instance that you’re too old or you have just had children then this Icelandic designer suggests that maybe you should think again? Anna Maria Helgadottir built a new career in her thirties after giving birth to a son and going back into education to learn design skills. Now she has her own jewellery line and is currently working on a new collection.
Anna Maria moved to Brighton 8 years ago after she and her partner had been living in London for seven years. Then just before they had their son they decided to move. “I had been to Brighton a few times and really liked the quirky feel of the place. My partner and me decided to move down here when I was pregnant because it seemed like a much nicer place to raise a child than London. I’ve never regretted the move, I’ve been so much happier living here. It’s such a friendly, easy-going place to live.”
What inspired you to become a designer? I’ve always loved being creative and making things since I was very young. I had this dream to study something creative for a long time before I actually did it. I did a design foundation course in Iceland a few years ago and some short courses in web and graphic design. I worked as a web designer for a while but then lost interest in that and stopped doing creative work for a few years.
It wasn’t until 2008 after my son was born that I decided to really have a go at exploring my interests, so I did a foundation course in Art and Design and then went on to study 3D Materials Practice at the University of Brighton. Both of these courses were really varied and gave me an amazing opportunity to explore different things, as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly.
I love the process of creating and it doesn’t really make much difference to me what I’m making. I think that designing jewellery just emerged sort of naturally when I was at university, because I had the opportunity to make anything from small-scale work like jewellery to larger scale furniture pieces. When I was working with the briefs that I was given there I would very often interpret them into jewellery designs and I guess that’s how I got to where I am now, designing and making jewellery.
Tell us about your designs and what inspires you I’m always very inspired by nature and that has definitely been a big theme in my designs so far. But inspiration can come from anything that interests me visually really. My first jewellery collection is very obviously inspired by nature. It is called Fragments of Nature and is a collection of found twigs that have been cast in silver, joined and shaped into wearable pieces of jewellery.
Do you have a favourite designer or designers? I don’t really have a favourite designer. I think there’s too many people out there doing really great stuff to be able to choose one or two favourites.
Where can we buy your jewellery? I sell my jewellery mostly online trough my own website as well as market places like Jewelstreet, rather than on the high street or through Etsy. I have also sold through retail outlets in Brighton and in Iceland and am currently on the lookout for some new places to sell my work.
What’s your favourite place in Brighton? I love the beach and all the great parks we have here in the summer time. They are great places to go to when you have children to entertain. I also love the lanes with all the independent little boutiques and cafés. I think the lanes are one of the things that make Brighton really special.
What are you working on now? I’m working on a new jewellery collection at the moment. I’ve taken things quite slowly since launching my first collection, so it’s exiting to be bringing out something new and fresh. It will be very different to the first collection and not nature inspired. I’ll hopefully have some pieces ready for the open houses festival in May, which I’m really looking forward to. We will have an open studio at Firefly Studio on Beaconsfield Road, where I work in a shared studio space with lots of very talented people.
What Brighton designer do you recommend we feature next time? I recommend that you feature Cara Tonkin, jewellery designer as I think she is definitely a “stand out” amongst Brighton designers.