If I could use only one word to describe Jovana Djuric and her artistic approach to jewelry, it would be movement. She, on the other hand, found it difficult to succinctly define her work in a single word. Between laughs, she managed to explain, ''I know, it is present. It actually means to be present, to exist, to be now. Being right now is monumental and essential for life. If we are aware of the present…we acknowledge it, that is the only way to move forward in a life as much as in a creative way.”
Though I have never had the opportunity to meet Jovana in person until this interview, what I have learned from her through her work, and through our conversations (in English, Serbian, and Croatian), is that she is in love with life. Her artistic soul is fueled every day from her crazy fast-paced life in New York City. When I asked her why she chose New York, the answer was simple, ''Because it is a place like no other!'' The Big Apple was, and still is, the only place that she thinks of as home. Her mind and her heart belong here, and no where else.
While still as a student on University of Art in Belgrade, she departed Serbia eighteen years ago in search of change and new challenges.
New York City, according to Jovana, provides her with everything she needs; speed, energy, multiple opportunities for growth and development, and of course, people. The people she has met along the way have shaped her personal growth, while helping her to move her brand forward.
Before she achieved international success, she worked on projects for Tiffany & Co. and Philip Crangi, and collaborated with fashion designer Alice Roi on multiple jewelry collections for her runway shows during New York Fashion Week. All this she did while still a student at FIT.
Further bolstering her credentials, she worked as a designer for Givenchy for four years, and designed pieces for the leading jewelry companies in New York. According to Jovana, these different experiences were part of a unique journey that shaped her personally and professionally. Each line, each product, and each brand that she developed, helped her establish her strong creative voice, which connected her present work to her past experiences.
"When it comes to the past, there is an accumulated knowledge that came way before us. With everything that I do, I am aware of the people and artists that came before me." In other words, by drawing on the past for inspiration, Jovana is able to create contemporary pieces with an edgy signature. The key to producing jewelry that stands out from the rest is a desire to move forward. At the same time, her art work reflects her own strong vision, personality and identity"The creative process is not easy to explain," adds Jovana, “It is something that comes to you. When I make my jewelry, every move of my hand, every cut that I make portrays life; a movement in space. The finished product ends up pointing out things that may be right in front of us. It portrays the desire to be alive and to move forward.”
She continued on to say, "I feel alive when I raise my hands in the air when I clap and celebrate everything that I see around me. I feel alive when I make objects, when I look at my hands moving, and I know, I understand the so-called consequences of that movement, in this case, my jewelry." Reflecting on the impact of her childhood, she added, "Growing up and evolving artistically I always tried to focus on myself, which allowed me to be who I am, aware of everything that surrounds me."
To Jovana, the skill that you can have while living in New York is learning how to separate yourself from the noise of the city, and listen to your inner voice; to remember to follow your gut but at the same time absorb everything that you need from the City. That that is why New York is a great place to live and create, she notes. To Jovana, If you can absorb everything around you and use it to get inspired, you have begun a journey of self fulfillment, and have set out on the path to accomplishing your dreams.
Today her dream has become a reality. With every new magazine cover featuring her work, from Harper’s Bazar, to Vogue and W magazine,
her work has garnered more and more attention. Capturing the attention of major fashion editors, her jewelry has been worn by such major celebrities as Rihanna and Kylie Jenner.
Yet the success of her work and her numerous accomplishments are not things Jovana dwells upon. As she explains, "I come from Serbia, and my state of mind is that nothing is ever good enough, so sometimes I have to stop myself and appreciated the moment that I am in. Yes this is my present, and I am not trying to contradict myself regarding appreciating the present, but I am always hunting for new inspiration. I guess the idea of success is still something that needs to grow in my heart. I have not fully embraced it yet."
Not wanting to feel too comfortable with what she has, she adds, "success can put you in a static state. I am keeping myself motivated," says Djuric, "and making stuff is what keeps me moving. When I put my heart into something, I know I am on the right track," she concludes.
Coincidentally, the heart will be the focal point for her next inspiration. Designing sculptural pieces of jewelry that integrate the body, and express its extensive dependence on the heart. This is the story that Jovana Djuric will tell us through the shaping of her metals into a form which seeks to express her life, movement, and art.
Photo | Marko Sovilj
Writer | Josip Majer
Makeup | Kornelija Slunjski
Hair | Pascale Poma
Shot location | The Assemblage