Where Creativity and Inspiration Meet

An interview with Chuck Bowman, Stuller's Senior Product Designer
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Chuck Bowman got an early start in the industry, learning to engrave at age five in his grandparents’ jewelry store. By age 12, he was doing actual customer work, and by age 20, he had begun custom design and casting. In 1990, he brought his expertise to Stuller. Today, Chuck serves as Senior Designer, where his imagination and experience lead to some of Stuller’s most beautiful and popular pieces. Read part one of “Where Creativity and Inspiration Meet” to learn what compelled him to become a designer and why he never tires of his job.

What did the path look like that led you to design?
I had a lot of background in both drawing and jewelry repair/fabrication. While I’d occasionally sketch what I was going to make, I really wasn’t all that into “design”…  I was more fascinated by jewelry making technique and production.

Then two things happened. I saw the most amazing gemstone I’d ever laid eyes on – a vivid, gorgeous, cushion-cut Tanzanite – about 30 carats or so. Suddenly I realized I barely knew what fine jewelry could be. Second, during my first tour of Stuller (long before I worked here; at the time, the building was 35,000 square feet), I met a designer named Lawrence Huddon. Larry did breathtaking jewelry renderings. It had never even occurred to me to “design” that way – to create a work of fine art in 2D before actually making the piece.

I pondered the two experiences for a while, and the more I thought about it all, the more impassioned I grew. That’s when I became really serious about aspiring to become a world-class jeweler and making design a fully integrated and expressed part of that ambition.

What keeps you going?
The collaboration with the Product Development team and so many others in the building. I learn a great deal from those I work with – and you never learn so well as when you teach – sharing information and perspectives keeps me on my toes and growing. And I pay close attention when reviewing designs with the modelers actually building the pieces. My first questions are generally “How do you feel about it?” “What are you seeing that’s working and what’s not?” It’s much more interesting having that interaction with talented people who share a common mission.

How would you describe Product Development?
This is sort of how I think about it:

If you can explain why one piece sold and another piece didn’t, that’s interesting. If you can explain why one piece is going to sell and another piece is not, that’s product development.

Come by next week to see the second installment of my interview with Chuck. You’ll learn about how he approaches the design process and inspires him.

Is your story like Chuck’s? Dramatically different? Share your own path to the jewelry industry, and tell us what drives you to achieve.

Image credit: Dan Jones

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