Ron Porter is a former board member of AJF and long-time, art-jewelry enthusiast.
Ron Porter: Did being named the winner of the EAA help your work/career? If so, in what ways?
Natalya Pinchuk: Being named the winner of the EAA was an amazing honor, for sure, and I do hear people say quite often that they recognize my name because of the award. So, the award definitely increased my name recognition and gave a certain weight or stamp of approval to my resume and work. Having the financial support was very much appreciated. On a personal level, I was very envigorated by the award. In a way, it gave me an emotional boost and a metaphorical hug, saying it is worth going forward.
I have been teaching at university level for the past four years and academia loves awards and recognition of its faculty. I am not sure the award opened any professional doors for me, but it certainly gave me a wonderful opportunity to prove to my employers that I am a good investment to have around. Actually, now that I am thinking, it did open a very important door: Rob Koudijs Galerie in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Rob told me that he first noticed my work on the cover of Metalsmith in 2004. His decision to invite me to his gallery was finalized when I received the award. So, yes, the award has opened a very important door for me! Thank you!
What is the value, other than the monetary stipend, of awards such as the EAA?
Being honored, being recognized and supported by a group of people who care and understand one’s field of interest are invaluable.
How has your work changed since winning the award?
Please visit my website. Most of the work online is after I received the award.
AJF increased the monetary value of the award in 2009 to $5000. Would the size of the stipend influence whether you would apply for such an award?
I would have definitely applied if the award had been $5000. Having financial support to experiment and perhaps try things out that one would normally not consider (due to financial investment) is really liberating. I am very happy for the future winners. I think it is a wonderful thing that the award has been increased!
Does presenting the award at a commercial venue such as SOFA matter to you?
I think that the presentation of the award at a commercial venue such as SOFA is a good idea. However, I wish I were invited to meet the members of AJF. The whole thing kind of happened anonymously for me. I was at SOFA giving a lecture that year and I never met anyone from AJF, nor did I really know who to look for, to tell the truth. I wish I could have thanked in person the members who have made this opportunity possible.
How has the state of the economy affected your work?
As I mentioned, I work in academia, so the economy has not really affected my work because my production is so small and the clientele is specialized and small as well. I am, however, considering giving myself time and space to develop a production line, unfortunately, at a difficult economic time and I am sure things will not be easy. As things stand with my one-of-a-kind work, my American sales came to a stop as of a year ago and my European sales have been going steady so far. Having said that, I would like to point out that my main income comes from teaching.
Do you have any advice for emerging jewelers who might consider applying for the EAA?
My advice is to nurture two personalities simultaneously: the realistic/practical side (the one that sees the market and professional relationships for what they are, with their own negatives and positives) and the dreamer personality, which allows one to dream, to imagine new territories and to pull or push on one's work with a child’s wonder.