Studio Visit: Faris Du Graf
Tell us what you do!
I'm a jewelry designer based in Seattle.
Tell us about a place you have lived that has impacted your work. How have you found that the culture of this place has infiltrated its way into your creative processes and outlook?
I was in Oakland when I began to feel the urgent desire to lead an artistic life. I was working an unfulfilling desk job, and it became obvious that if I wasn’t going to be creative at work, I wouldn’t be happy. It was during my Saturn return. I had just turned 27.
One of my best friends loved to cook, and we would come together and throw down every weekend for a Sunday brunch that would actually be a Sunday dinner because we wouldn’t start eating until like 8 pm. Everyone was invited, and there would often be like 80 to 100 people there. We’d cook all day, there would be ciphers going on. We were all smoking a lot of weed. It was a time of coming together and coming into ourselves.
Everyone around me at the time was creative. You had to come with a creative contribution. Jewelry was my way of expressing myself to my community. As with everything in Oakland, everything felt really supportive. A friend came over and took my first product shots on a bedsheet in the living room and helped me start a website. My roommates modeled for me. Another friend came over and helped me with production in my little studio in the basement of my house. An old friend from Seattle shot my first lookbook. A friend who now is now a well-known painter did my logo. My sister wrote all the copy and helped launch the company on social media.
FARIS has always been a community effort and it doesn’t feel right if it's not. In Oakland, I realized that doing things with people you like is the whole point of being a creative entrepreneur.
How do you exercise your creativity within your daily routine?
Running a business means constantly solving problems, which is also one way to define creativity. On Friday, for example, we did a photoshoot. We thought we could create these plaster forms and hang them on paper as a backdrop for our shots. The plaster was so heavy, it ended up collapsing the paper. But the collapsed paper looked so interesting, we just turned that into the new backdrop.
Some days don’t feel very creative. Owning a business can feel like a lot of to-dos. But I do find daily moments of creativity in more mundane tasks, whether it’s cooking at home, getting dressed, or flowing through yoga in a new way.
Name a few things that inspire your creative decisions.
I don’t design with a computer, so I often draw inspiration from the materials themselves. At my desk, I often start with wax or previous pieces that I want to reinvent in some kind of way. Sometimes, it almost feels like I’m making a collage — mixing and combining various elements. Other times, it’s twisting and tying things into a knot and holding it against your ear. It all feels very unrestrained, until the end, when I start to ask myself, what is the point of all this? Do I love this? Who wears this? All these sorts of things.
How has your process evolved since you started making jewelry?
I design much in the same way I always have, but my production flow is more collaborative and efficient than it has ever been.
I now have a small production family to help me, so it’s not just on me. I’m super lucky to have a senior jeweler on our team, Jim, who has been in the jewelry business his whole life. Jim is my OG. He’s made our stone setting process so much better.
But sometimes it still is just me tinkering by myself, often late at night. In some ways, the process feels much harder than it used to, because now I factor in so many more perspectives than I did when I was starting out. I think about all the women who wear my jewelry, how I am going to make it, how long the process is going to take. I am more thoughtful, but I still try to keep things playful and intuitive.
What’s your favorite part of being an independent creative?
I love being part of a community of independent designers. I cherish my friendships with other designers and business owners who are climbing the same mountain I am. There’s also something that feels really limitless about being able to make art and be a business owner. It’s a real privilege to be able to do both.
Do you have any other outlets or mediums for creativity that you seek?
For the past few years, I have been studying stone sculpture in Seattle with Sabah Al-Daher, an Iraqi artist who was once a political prisoner of Saddam Hussein, allowed to survive only because he made art for his guards. I feel so lucky to be his student. I’m also starting to dabble in painting. And I’ve always loved to dance.
Where do you feel most productive?
Mornings, in most places.
No, I don't have a favorite. There are too many. I think that Donald Glover is stupid ridiculous. Solange is always an inspiration. Both of my sisters. My best friend Hilary, the same one I used to cook with on Sundays in Oakland, knows how to create community wherever she goes, makes people laugh, and makes the bombest food. She started a catering business, Hil’s Cooking Catering, around the same time as I started FARIS.
Not too long ago I had a store, but sadly we had to close because they sold the building. The space was fun, collaborative and welcoming. I think I'd like to do that again someday.
Favorite place in the world?
Tokyo. It’s f***ing great and weird. Everything is so delicious. It feels like I’m in a cosmopolitan cartoon with hella people.
An outfit that you would be happy to have on repeat?
LCD stands for Lust, Covet, Desire… what are you currently LCD’ing?
Nothing, really. But one thing I’d love to run across is a beautiful painting to hang in my home. I haven't found the right one that I can afford yet.