Jennifer Janesko has been a siren on the K.C. art scene for years—her fantastical, va-va-voom versions of the classic female pin-up popping up on everything from gallery walls to guitars. This fall, however, the artist traded her paintbrush for a pair of earrings (not to mention necklaces, bracelets and rings) with the launch of her debut jewelry collection. The first offering of an all-encompassing modern lifestyle brand named Janesko, her new jewels range from custom one-of-a-kind gems to ready-to-wear pieces perfect for gift giving. We sat down with Janesko recently to talk about her new career.
We hear that Janesko will eventually grow to include shoes and handbags; what made you decide to tackle jewelry first?
Originally, my jumping-off point was going to be handbags. I met with the manufacturer in New York, but on the plane back to K.C. I just felt like something was off-center. Before the landing gear was down, I had a stack of jewelry sketches.
As an artist, I’d imagine that your initial sketch is an incredibly important part of your design process, right?
For me, the sketch is everything. However, unlike drawing and painting, jewelry is three-dimensional, and the sketch is not always enough information for the manufacturer. When that became an issue, I began cutting pieces out of paper to give me a better since of scale and proportion. One day, I almost left the house with my paper earrings still glued on my ears!
Which of your pieces do you find yourself wearing most these days?
Right now, I’m wearing a custom pair of blue sapphire earrings wrapped in a silver bezel. I never expected to become so attached to the custom pieces, but they really are one of a kind. I hand-select every stone that is used in a custom piece, and I guess I find it hard to let go.
Why was it so important for you to have a mix of ready-to-wear and custom pieces?
I love creating the ready-to-wear pieces, but I have a desire to create specialty jewelry as well. In my art career, I have collectors who will only buy original paintings and collectors who can only buy prints, and I have always offered both price points. I guess I’m taking the same approach in my jewelry.
I’ve been proudly rocking your KS/MO necklace from the Traveler Collection for weeks and loving it!
This necklace began as an idea for my launch party and has now found a permanent place in my line. In fact, I’m planning on adding additional pieces, the kind of pieces you always pack. I am a dedicated traveler myself, and the “Traveler” pieces will be based on my own journey around the globe. The KS/MO necklace is about the journey that Kansas and Missouri residents take over the state line on a daily basis. More importantly, it is about the friends and family we all share on both sides.
Janesko pieces start at $66 and can be found at janesko.com and around town at Clique Boutique, The Coveted Home, Halls Plaza (trunk show Nov. 29-30) and The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.