Skilled Stylists Help JEM Grad’s Work Shine in Print
Anyone who wears one of jeweler Azita Mireshghi’s bold statement pieces is bound to feel like a bit of a badass. Inspired by the mystery and beauty of nature, her designs emanate strength and power. Examples include a chunky red and black metal cuff that resembles molten lava and a delicate but fierce mesh necklace that looks like skin shed by a golden snake. Mireshghi usually works with brass, bronze and copper, often incorporating organic materials—such as horsehair—in her jewelry for added texture. Tribal ornaments and armor shapes also influence her designs.
A necklace by Azita Mireshghi covers 1968's winter issue. Photo by Giuliano Bekor.
“Jewelry creates an emotional reaction when you put it on,” said Mireshghi, who graduated from Academy of Art University’s School of Jewelry & Metal Arts (JEM) with an M.F.A. in 2016. “It makes you feel a certain way, whether it’s pretty or powerful. I majored in jewelry because I had that connection with it and wanted to create pieces that capture a feeling of empowerment.”
Charlene Modena, JEM executive director, is proud of what Mireshghi accomplished as a student and continues to achieve in the professional world.
“Exploring and experimenting with a carefully selected array of natural materials while working on her M.F.A. thesis project led Azita to artistic and personal discoveries,” she said. “She’s created a body of work that vividly and proudly expresses the relationship between her choice of materials and an innate sense of empowerment.”
After graduating, Mireshghi moved to Los Angeles. She creates jewelry in her home studio and sells it at farmer’s markets, pop-ups and through her website, www.azitamireshghi.com. One of the biggest lessons she’s learned since embarking on her career is the importance of having top-quality photos that showcase her designs. And that in addition to a great photographer, you need a skilled stylist to get the best possible results from a shoot.
Collaborating with styling instructor Liz Baca resulted in a photo of her jewelry gracing the cover of Modern Salon magazine. While working with photographer Kevin Michael Schmitz (also an Academy alumnus) on another project, she met stylist Quentin Fears. Several photos from that shoot landed in En Vie, an online Japanese fashion magazine.
“I formed a relationship with Quentin, which is hard to do in this business,” Mireshghi explained. “Established stylists have people trying to work with them all the time. But Quentin genuinely liked my jewelry, and it fit with his style. We were also both in the early phases of our careers, so we were helping each other.”
Earlier this year, the pair teamed up for a project with photographer Giuliano Bekor. It yielded a series of stunning photos that exude a clean, subtly exotic vibe and play up Mireshghi’s jewelry. One is featured on the cover of the latest issue of 1968, a high-end fashion and art magazine. Several other photos of her jewelry, including a piece called Presence—a striking collar-style necklace—appear inside.
Presence envelops the length of a model’s long neck, the top curling gracefully under her chin while the bottom circles above her chest and back. The necklace’s soft taupe hue complements the model’s modern, silvery-blonde bob and sun-bronzed skin. A midnight blue background ties everything together and makes Mireshghi’s work pop.
Created from handmade Abaca paper, copper, brass and horsehair, Presence was also a finalist in this year’s juried Excellence in Fibers competition put on by Fiber Art Now magazine. The necklace will be on display in the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles from October 2018 through January 2019.
“Connecting with photographers and stylists who understand her art has provided Azita with the exciting opportunity to get pictures of her jewelry published both online and in hard copy, nationally and internationally,” said Modena. “Seeing these styled images of work by a recent graduate has not only raised the ‘how to photograph your work’ bar for our students, but has been an absolute inspiration as well.”
Mireshghi advises jewelers to be on site during photo shoots but warns that isn’t always possible.
“Sometimes they are in a very small space with lots of people,” she said. “If the shoot is for you and your jewelry, talk to your stylist beforehand about clothing and the look you’re going for. If it’s focused on something else, you can’t really tell the stylist what to do.”
Presence by Azita Mireshghi. Photo by Giuliano Bekor.
Mireshghi also encourages Academy JEM students to take advantage of opportunities to work with photography students at school.
“There are many photographers who want to take pictures that will help them build their portfolios,” she said. “It’s best to find someone with whom you can have a mutually beneficial relationship. For example, lots of pictures of jewelry are near a model’s face, so try to find someone focused on portraits.”