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Meet Greg Orloff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Greg Orloff.

Greg, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
It all started when I was a kid growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, where I developed a curiosity with how machines/anything mechanical worked. My grandfather and uncle were automotive mechanics and I was always building or fixing something. In college, since I’d always been creative, I thought graphic design would be something that I could channel my creative energy into.

I found it to be a major drag, sitting in front of a computer for 12 hours a day and I thought, “why the hell should I stay doing something that doesn’t make me happy at the end of the day?”

This was a major turning point for me, and as soon as I made the decision to switch my degree from graphic design to sculpture, things changed dramatically. I made large-scale pieces that were interactive and people really connected with the work. From there I was invited to create similar pieces for local film festivals, private commissions, and finally, a permanent installation in the lobby of city hall in Columbia, Mo. After graduating in 2013, l landed at a small nonprofit craft school call Pocosin Arts in Columbia, North Carolina, where I refined my jewelry skills and gained a ton of life experiences. I also traveled for six months, hopping from residency to residency, teaching gigs, and received scholarship awards at five different craft schools in the US and Europe.

I decided it was time to root down, so I packed up just my tools and some clothes and headed to LA. I found my place at the Brewery Artist Lofts, the largest artist compound in the US, within two weeks of moving. Soon after, I landed a really good teaching gig at a drug and alcohol rehab clinic, which led me to return to school for a Masters in Psychology. Teaching has always been a second passion of mine, especially in fostering creative solutions for those suffering from drug addiction.

Currently, my studio has evolved to encompass a wide range of tools in jewelry fabrication/casting, woodworking, plumbing, electrical, etc.… In order to support my craft, I have become a jack of all trades. I like to joke with people that since I’m a jeweler, handyman, mechanic, teacher, ordained minister (I just married my neighbors a couple of months ago), and now have a Psych masters under my belt, that “I can make you an 18 karat gold ring, fix the plumbing in your house, marry you, and provide therapy all at the same time”!

Looking back on my life so far, there is nothing that anyone could give to me in exchange for the experiences that I’ve had, the people who I’ve met, and the relationships that have resulted!

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
One of the main things that I think about in the studio when working on a piece of jewelry is how it fosters a connection with the wearer as well as the viewer. Jewelry is such an intimate object and believe that it’s so important when worn that it resonates with the identity of the wearer. For instance, the pieces that I have created as well as collected and that I wear echo who I am as an artist participating in an entire lineage of jewelers/sculptors over the centuries. The richness that exists in the world’s history and development of techniques, tools, and resulting design/purpose is deeply inspiring to me. Paying homage to this history through learning, applying, and then resulting in a finished piece is one of my main goals as a maker.

Over the years, I have found that I enjoy working in chapters within the bodies of work that I have created. Some of this I suppose is due to my ADD and need to keep things interesting for myself as well as to continually feel that I being challenged and that my skills are being pushed to higher levels. I always see these chapters through to full completion and typically carry over some part of the style/aesthetic from that completed chapter into the next. In my most recent work, I have been incorporating found objects such as rusty/pummeled bottle caps found on the streets, old coins, gears from watches, etc. and so please keep your eyes peeled for these and send them my way! Bringing these found industrially produced object into the medallions I have been creating highlights my tribute to this history. These pieces have a primal depth to them and communicate this with raw textures such as intentional hammered patterns, brushed wire surfaces, or sandblasting. Color is another element that I use to speak to this through patinas that darken these texturized surfaces and then go back to polish up only the raised areas of the piece giving it a gritty yet refined feel to the piece. I feel that when all of these elements are combined, I’m able to pay tribute to the traditions past craftsmen as well as bridge a contemporary connection with wearers.

What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
One of the single best pieces of advice that I got from one of my main mentors and educators back in college was to “always follow your gut”! While this sounds a bit ambiguous and without a doubt very difficult at times, I have found over the years that the times that I did not follow my gut lead to dead ends quickly. The other part of this that is crucial to being able to follow one’s gut is to also have a solid group of people surrounding you that have your back as well as having theirs. Community at this level has been what has gotten me through thick n’ thin and is what has driven me to a place where I am thriving as an artist as well as a person.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
The Brewery hosts a twice-annual Artwalk once in the spring and then in the fall where the community here opens their doors to the public to share our work as well as for all to see our studios. The next upcoming Artwalk will be on Saturday and Sunday, October 26th and 27th from 11 am to 6 pm both days.

I’m also available via appointment and always welcome private showings of my studio/gallery. Feel free to reach out and happy to share what’s happening in my studio!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Garrett Dorin – Portrait of me, Catherine Asanov – Photos of the work being worn

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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