get to know: LAS JEWELRY

Hailing from LA – LAS Jewelry is the husband and wife duo Lisa and Dan Soltis. Together they design and produce their one-of-a-kind jewelry out of recycled metal and repurposed leathers and fabrics. Lisa is a 2-D sketch artist who collaborates on designs with her husband who then transforms the sketch into tangible 3-dimensional objects out of wax to be molded and cast into their final metal embodiment. In addition, leather and other media are used to make equally intriguing necklaces and pins. Viewing Lisa’s sketches, you get a sense of delicately detailed subjects in an aura of swirling bursts of color, a palate of Southern California no doubt. their jewelry has been a favorite of ours and our customers, and with the new ideas they’re developing; the future is certainly looking bright for these two.

OAK: Could you introduce yourselves to our readers and let us know something we may not know about you two?
LAS: We think the most unique thing is as husband and wife, is that we can actually get along working and living together. As for our other careers, Dan is a union sculptor and works on big films, and I do occasional textile design for surf and skate brands like Volcom, Billabong, etc.

OAK: We had the pleasure of meeting both of you during one of your trips to NY a while back – can you shed a little light on how you two met, and how this collaboration between you two started? Lisa – your own background is in illustration, correct? what led the two of you to jewelry design?
LAS: we are about 7.5 years a part in age and met at my (Lisa’s) first job out of college in a little town in Ohio. there’s actually an art and production studio there. it’s literally in a corn field. Dan was a lead sculptor at this studio, and I was just going to stay for the summer then move out to San Fransisco with a friend. However I met Dan, and ended up staying. We got married a year later, and stayed in as many artistic avenues as possible. It only took a year after that to realize we needed to get out of the midwest to keep doing art full-time.
My background is in 2-d studies in general: design, painting, drawing, etc. Dan worked in the toy industry several years ago before sculpting human likenesses at our former work place (where we met), and specializes in realism and anatomy.
After hanging out for a couple years as an artistic couple, we saw that starting a jewelry collection together was a way to connect both our mediums…my 2-d design transformed into a 3-d form. perfect chance for us to collaborate on something we both love.

OAK: sorry for the cliche question – but what are your influences? the line borders on very dark and fantastic imagery, and you and dan seem pretty cheerful and are super nice. The contrast surprised us when we met you.
LAS:Ha! that’s great and thank you! We figure it’s fine if the pieces come across a little dark. Anyone who knows us knows we are joyful people. It’s just that mystery and antiquity that we love to show in our art work. As for inspiration, we both came at this individually loving detailed scientific illustration books, anatomy, plant and animal life, etc. we collect vintage books and draw a ton of inspiration from those, our personal studies, and the landscape and environments of southern California.

OAK: What made you decide to use recycled and repurposed materials for your designs?
LAS: Dan actually has a degree in industrial design, but decided to scrap that profession altogether as he didn’t believe in creating products meant to have a certain life..things that would end up in landfills. Both of us have a love of recycling and giving things a second chance, and we wanted to make sure that we could do that to some extent in our jewelry.

OAK: How do you differentiate your line from season to season?
LAS: we’ve been playing around with our products for a few years now, but really only started to solidify things these past years of 2009/2010. It takes a bit of time to get your bearings, see what you’re most passionate in pursuing, and then attempt to form a cohesive collection. Throughout this past year, we’ve made sure we’ve had a staple group of trademark metal pieces, then adding a collection of mixed media/leather to the metals for the past couple of seasons. We plan to keep this formula going, bringing in more staple pieces, and finding new ways to incorporate recycled materials into the mixed media work.

OAK: We see your jewelry as wearable art. what do you belive makes them stand the test of time?
LAS: we see them either as little sculptures in the case of our rings and necklace pendants, and in regards to our leather pieces, more as 3-d paintings. we believe if you see your pieces as art, not just flash in the pan fashion, they will translate from season to season, year to year, etc.

OAK: The last time we saw you (very briefly) was at our party with Surface to Air at Bond St – did you have a good time? Was that your first time at one of our parties?
LAS: I believe that was my first time at an OAK event, and unfortunately Dan was not in NY with me at the time. I had a great evening meeting Daniel, the jewelry designer from Surface to Air, and also some incredible OAK staff and stylists. Living in LA it’s tough seeing all the events going on and wanting to be there.

OAK: What sort of person do you have in mind when designing jewelry? Ideally,who do you want to wear your jewelry?
LAS: someone who needs to unleash a little daring part of themselves. someone with confidence in personal style. someone who appreciates statements and details. Honestly, we are fulfilled when anyone shows a love for our pieces, especially people who believe in solid design, craft, and detail. I love when we get emails from complete strangers. It seriously brightens the day.

OAK: Is there anything new you’re working on?
LAS: We are always working on new rings and recently, more ideas specifically for men. but then again, ladies are welcome to it. Dan daily wears one of our crow skulls on an old wallet chain. He gets many compliments, so we are thinking of a way to make that a staple. And as mentioned before, designing some more mixed media pieces to add to our fall/winter collection. I also see earrings and cuffs in our future.

OAK: Lisa, what made you decide to transform your sketches into a jewelry line?
LS: I was tired of seeing them as flat objects and I wanted to touch them and wear them and have them a part of my style in a 3-d way. I was inspired by a clothing designer I used to work for and her ferocity in the fashion business and thought this was something I could put a passion behind.

OAK: Dan, what ties to fashion did you have before you started working on Jewelry?
DS: good one. Not too many ties. Pretty much I’ve always had an appreciation for vintage, been a thrifter forever, which is something both Lisa and I share. Since we’ve been together, she’s helped me out with personal style, and I’ve been more interested in what’s going on out there in fashion since we’ve started our jewelry.

OAK: what’s the one question no one’s asked you in an interview (but you wish they did) – what’s the answer to it?
LAS: “what does it take to have a voice in the fashion industry?” i suppose having a product that people believe in, which causes them to put their fatih in you as the designer, and just keep praying that it keeps building and growing.

OAK: anything else you’d like to say?
LAS: Thanks for taking the time to interview us. we’re honored to be a part of OAK. we’re going to keep going and creating, so keep a look out.

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