Once a 614 Artist, Always One!: Christie Kang, Jewelry Artist

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Cortez in black...too cute to not include!

Cortez in black…too cute to not include!

Christie Kang and I have never met in person and that may never happen as she now lives in Roanoke VA after living in Columbus for 20+ years. Because she is a member of the 614 artists group on Facebook, I have had the opportunity to see the gorgeously unique jewelry that she creates. I reached out to her about a possible interview though I didn’t know she had moved.  Since she IS a member of the 614 group AND she DID live in Columbus for a long while, I decided that an interview was still warranted (after all, I AM the writer here, right?? LOL!)  Then as I began interviewing her, I discovered that we had so much in common that it seemed like it was meant to be!

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                          Custom work

So, here we go…Christie’s business is JiHi Designs:
Ji – to give happiness and Hi- to remove suffering–a Buddhist term, Ji Hi: to give happiness by saving all beings from suffering  How cool is that?  Although she has been making jewelry for herself for years, she just opened her Etsy.com shop in March of last year.
Her family inspired her to create as a young child. Her mom and dad are both very creative people in their own ways and always encouraged the creative process with fun art projects; many noodle necklaces and mountains of glitter!!! (BTW, she still loves glitter!!!)
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Originally trained as a print designer at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (I’m from Pgh- #1 thing we have in common!), she moved back to her birth place Chicago, IL after graduation to complete internships and ‘pay her dues’.  After several years, a friend invited her to visit Ohio and she ended up staying for over 20 years working in several amazing agencies as an art director/designer in the Columbus area (we both ended up in Columbus! #2).
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Then one day a friend asked her if she wanted to walk dogs at a local shelter and she agreed because she loves dogs.
This was an experience that changed the course of my life. The more I learned about animal welfare, the more I was drawn to the cause… I decided to leave advertising as I could feel that passion ending and a new one beginning. I decided to open a small boutique for cats and dogs. It was an amazing experience – I used the store to sell beautiful things for very pampered fur kids and more importantly a place for (humane) education.”  Her shop promoted homeless shelter animals still looking for their ‘furever’ homes by hosting adoption events and bringing people and animals together that may not have otherwise had a chance to meet. It was very successful and rewarding on many levels. But… the more she learned the stronger the passion grew to do more… hands on field work was calling!

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Soooo, she sold the shop and trained with an animal disaster rescue group so she could help put lives back together after natural disasters. At that time, she also trained to be an animal cruelty investigator and accepted a full time job doing just that! “This was by far one of the most difficult and rewarding times of my life. So many situations and emotions… so many beautiful souls to share them with. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world.” (#3 commonality–I volunteered for many years at a local shelter, worked in rescue and am totally into humane education and more!)
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There came a time when she had to listen to another voice that was beginning to grow louder in her mind…the call to go home… back to Virginia where she was raised to be closer to her parents. So, once again another major professional change.  
She quit her job, sold her house, said many tearful goodbyes and moved. For months, she’d been dreaming of an old white farm house in the country with a small stream running through the back yard… ‘I now live in the house of my dreams!!
I sit in my home studio with the most amazing view… you can see everything and nothing at all. It’s perfect. It’s beautiful. It’s peaceful. It’s home… an inspirational place to create. It was again time to do just that, create.’  Another career change ensued and that is how jewelry became a vocation instead of a hobby.
Her white house!

Her white house!

 
Her studio helpers include Milo (blue heeler, protector of the pack) , Cortez (bad ass little chi-wa-wa), Abby (Cortez’s chi-wa-wa sweeter half)  and Dylan (big white kitty –{I promised to protect and care for after meeting in a parking lot!}: he is happy and loved!) MY studio helpers are a dog and 3 kitties…another thing we have in common!!
Abby and Cortez

Abby and Cortez

The love of art has always been a part of her life. She does believe that it was a pretty interesting experience to take such a long break from creating… many years to look at the world in an entirely different light and then to go back with interesting new perspectives and views.  Controlling the mediums she works with no longer interests her because she feels she has a better appreciation for the materials and what they can do without  fighting with them. This has been very freeing for her and she’s grateful for the insight.  After so many years of pushing the creative process via time and budget in the advertising world, her approach now is no pushing – just let it happen. It’s a very peaceful, from the heart process♥
Milo

Milo

When asked how to categorize her work,she humorously replied: “If there is a jewelry category for perfectly imperfect… then I might fit there.” She really isn’t sure how to categorize her jewelry.  She enjoys working with many types of metal, fibers and stones and is always looking for and exploring new things. If it’s interesting to her, she’ll use it – be it fine silver or a roll of old wire from the barn..hehe!  BTW, she is totally self-taught!  Wow!  I am in awe of that considering how gorgeous her work is.  As she states: ‘I’m self taught – I’ve always really loved jewelry – and having a curious mind – I kinda like figuring things out and talking to others about what works for them  – I’m not afraid to ask questions – it’s fun 🙂 Great way to make some new friend and develop my craft.’
Dylan

Dylan

Inspiration comes in many forms for Christie : taking time to look at the simple things in life like those things that many people walk past a million times a day and don’t notice; the way moss grows on the side of a shady tree to the hundreds of rusty old nails in a utility pole; nature, colors, textures, the work of fellow artists;  guess it’s just what we all take the time to notice.
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Although she does sometimes vend at markets in the Virginia area (quite a trek for most of my readers!), it’s best to look for her work on her Etsy shop as well as her Facebook page. Custom orders are always welcome so give her a call or text via her cell phone. There’s no reason that the distance between Columbus and Virginia should keep you from adding her jewelry to your collection or someone else’s!!

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Another custom made piece

After learning more about Christie,  I have decided that some time when I make a trek to Florida I wanna take a detour, meet this lady and her entourage, see her studio and even maybe add to my jewelry collection. Hope it’s soon!
Contact info for readers:
614-602-7727 (talk or text)
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