get to know: daniel jackson from surface to air

originally from the state of washington, daniel jackson came to new york in 1993 to study studio art at nyu. along with his peers, he eventually formed the intl. art and design collective that we all know and love, surface to air. Formed out of a desire to create an alternative to the dominant art and design community, Surface to Air gained momentum as a new, fresh, breaking-the-rules type of collective, and Daniel became responsible for much of the group’s three dimensional work. currently, he is the designer of the accessories collection for Surface to Air, consisting of such iconic pieces as the two and three finger brass knuckle rings, dagger pendants, and silver cast skulls and keys.

oak: could you say a few words to introduce yourself to our readers, with some information they may not know about you?

dj: My name is Daniel Jackson, and I’m the Creative Director for jewelry for Surface to Air, as well as a freelance designer and art director. Right now we’re focusing on the development of the Spring/Summer 2011 Surface to Air collection for market and press, updating our website to accommodate increased sales and press traffic, and creating new ways for the Surface to Air brand to reach out to more and more people.

oak: you went to school for studio art with a focus on sculpture, what led you to jewelry design?

dj: Certainly my background in sculpture and industrial design continues to be a large influence. It’s a combination of things, from having smaller studio spaces in New York City, to wanting to reach new audiences through new mediums, and expanding the definition of what jewelry, or accessorizing in general can mean to an individual.

oak: can you speak a bit about what led to the formation of surface to air, and considering where it is now, is this what you and the other co-founders foresaw?

dj: Surface to Air was born out of the idea of wanting to create our own realities, our own languages of engagement, and a DIY aesthetic that continues to this day. Longevity and history are a great foundation to build new concepts and ideas, but I feel that what keeps us motivated is that search for the new and original, and being flexible and disciplined enough to visualize a final goal. As for what was foreseen in terms of our success, I can say that every person currently involved in the company has truly worked extremely hard to make S2A what it is today.

oak: regarding the new collection that debuted at the event, colder front, and is now available online: I am to understand that it’s more feminine than previous collections. could you elaborate about this, and why you chose to present the new collection as such?

dj: The accessories collection is one of the oldest product categories from Surface to Air, and while we’ve always viewed the collection as being for both men and women, we chose to showcase a collection of pieces that ranged from very delicate and light, to more extravagant pieces that were certainly more expressive and dynamic. While the physical forms these pieces took tend to be more suited to women, the concepts and influences behind these works certainly are experienced by and shared between the sexes. That was sort of the point, to explore how contrasts can actually create some sort of harmony, or at least a dialogue.

oak: were you personally involved in the hair installation installation at colder front? could you speak about the inspiration behind it? we all really loved it, by the way.

dj: Thank you! Yes, I developed the concept behind the hair pieces, and my partners and staff helped to realize the project. These pieces were a very good example about how the collaborative spirit of S2A can produce something really engaging.

oak: i’ve heard you used to design menswear, is that correct? i imagine your approach must be quite different to clothing design than to jewelry design. could you describe the differences, if there are any, and do you have a preference between the two?

dj: Yes – I found the process of designing menswear to be both very challenging and rewarding. I did 4 seasons of collections, and there were some very nice ideas explored during that process. One amazing thing is that we’ve created a structure within the jewelry division of S2A that allows us to work outside of the traditional fashion calendar of sales and showing, which has been crucial to our development and growth.

oak: most elements of the jewelry collection in the past (the multi-finger rings/dagger pendants) have had a very hard edge that seems to be informed by living in new york. would you agree with this statement? if not, any where else in particular?

dj: I guess after living in New York for a while one does develop a bit of a hard edge, if only out of necessity. The jewelry collection has always been about that balance between calm and chaos, so to accessorize with an aggressive tendency seems to come natural to some people.

oak: anything else you’d like to say?

dj:Seriously, if you wear some of our jewelry while traveling, especially the rings, please do not ever bring them on the plane with you or in your carryon luggage. That is all.

check out the new collection, available for sale exclusively on, here, and be sure to check back next week for more additions.


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