When in-person press previews, trade shows, and coffee and cocktail dates came to a screeching halt last spring, lots of us found a way to stay connected to our industry friends—and “friends”—through Instagram. Plenty of us have spoken of the new relationships that developed during this era, and for me, it’s been getting to know Lisa Bayer (aka @sketchnyc) and her wonderful jewelry-centric artwork (which she has since generously contributed to the pages of JCK and our website on numerous occasions).
I’m always intrigued by interesting brand storytelling vehicles (see this post I wrote about professionally designed mood boards last summer) and was delighted to recently discover all the different ways Bayer has been collaborating with jewelry designers—everything from look books to holiday cards to limited-edition prints for charity initiatives.
“I see details in jewelry during my process that others can’t,” says Bayer. “Light, texture, color, and flaws make something beautiful. I feel like photography can strive to make everything look flawless but you can lose the natural feeling.
“Illustration has an emotional component that photography does not. I mean, it’s very different. I’ve been moved to tears by a photo! But an illustration tells a brand’s story in a way that stops people in their scrolling tracks. It pops out because it’s rare. And when used as an element for a special occasion, it’s the cherry on the sundae.”
This past holiday season, Bayer debuted a series of glass trinket trays that quickly developed a cult following and were even picked up by a few boutiques, including Jaimie Geller Jewelry in California and Jo Latham in Texas.
Bayer has chosen jewelry illustration as her particular métier after a career as a sales rep for fine and fashion jewelry designers; she also worked in the private label sector, creating trends and translating retailers’ trend decks in order to book sales. “I interfaced with in-house designers, sample makers, and overseas factories, so product development was very integral to my work,” she says.
Her @sketchnyc business, launched in 2018, was largely a side hustle; she juggled it with a full-time role selling fine jewelry at Barneys until it closed in 2019, and then in another corporate jewelry setting until the COVID-19 shutdown forced the company to lay her off.
Beth Anne Bonanno of the EAB Project was among the first to recognize Bayer’s work as an artist.
“I had studied drawing on and off in my life but hadn’t taken it seriously,” says Bayer. “I discovered that I could achieve more on an iPad Pro with a program called Procreate. It’s very human—I am hand-drawing but I have access to every color and brush texture. There’s also an ‘undo’ button, which is life-changing.
“Some people frown upon digital art, but to them, I say ‘Hello! David Hockney works on an iPad all the time!’ ”
Below, a sampling of the unique ways Bayer has been partnering with designers and retailers to tell colorful, compelling stories.
Top: Lisa Bayer’s image for the cover of Stephanie Albertson’s Holiday 2020 look book (digital and hardcover). “An illustration is a spoonful of sugar, not unlike hiding a kid’s medicine in a piece of candy,” she says. “It tells you that you need to purchase, wear, and collect a product, but the messaging is buried in the DNA of a hand-drawn image with colors popping and exploding in your eyes. It’s not pretentious. It’s like a children’s book that you still want to keep as an adult.”
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