Hot 100 2013: Rowenna Harrison

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The Treasure champ on turning her love of illustration into jewellery.

After nearly 30,000 visits, 90,000 page views and close to 17,000 votes on the Professional Jeweller website, Rowenna Harrison’s brand, the cutely named Rosita Bonita, was last year voted one of the winners of the Professional Jeweller Treasure competition.

It’s the perfect excuse to make her one of the Hot 100, for there can be few better endorsements than one that comes from thousands of your peers.

It’s not lost on the designer and she says that it was the highlight of 2013, along with moving into her first studio, having worked from home for the past few years.

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Now well known for her foil-printed illustrations on leather, it seems inconceivable that Rowenna has been working from home so recently but hers has been a very individual path, coming from a background in illustration, with a side order of professional shyness.

“I’ve always shied away from selling myself as a freelancer, and got to a point where I was frustrated that people, who didn’t know who I was, were not commissioning illustrations from me, so I decided to make a product I could sell directly, out of my drawings.”

And illustration is a lifelong love affair for Rowenna. “I’ve been drawing and making things all my life, from jewellery and accessories, to props and sculptures. It’s all making pretty things out of different materials. I’d been making some accessories out of leather and it struck me that it would be a great surface to print on to. I’ve never trained in jewellery, but I am interested in working with metals, so that is the next thing to tackle.”

Her idiosyncratic style is obvious for all to see, not least because of her vintage wardrobe, all mid-20th century prints and waspy cuts.

“I love looking at ancient costume, jewellery, sculpture, and equally, if not more, I love seeing these reinterpreted at different times. Early to mid 20th century cinema sets, costumes and graphics are endlessly fascinating, although I tend to look mostly at the stills and the advertising graphics. I love seeing versions of historical styles that are unmistakably products of their own time. I guess I’m carrying on that tradition.”

And next up? “Finding time to work on my next collection, which is going to be more varied in materials and techniques, mixed in with my trademark printed leather, which will entail a period of experimentation.”

Her distinctive images will proliferate. With illustration and print at the core of her design process she will use other surfaces and other objects and won’t limit herself to jewellery. “I am also open to doing some collaboration and design work for other brands.”

Rowenna Harrison was selected as a NexGem in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2013 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the Hot 100 book online, click here.
 

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