He(ART) of Bellevue Artist: Caramia Justian
Finding a Niche Market With Miniature Canvases
Located in Issaquah, Caramia Justian creates unique themed collage brooches and pendants that you can’t find anywhere else. She's dabbled in art her whole life but became serious about it in college.
"I studied oils, pastels, pottery, photography and jewelry making at the time,” she said.
For the first 10 years of her art career, Justian started in clothing but didn't enjoy the creative process. In 1988, she felt the need to go back to a love that she had abandoned: jewelry design. She now owns Jewelry by Caramia.
“I didn't want to create work similar to anyone else. I thought of the use of a collage technique, similar to what I did on canvas. Hence, miniature canvases. That's how I started creating over 150 different themes of collage brooches and pendants I'm known for today.”
Justian is one of many artists fighting to keep the art movement alive. She continues to advocate funding for schools to promote art to younger generations. Read on for our Q&A with Caramia Justian.
BDA: How long have you been practicing your type of art?
CJ: I have been designing jewelry for 30 years. I just moved back to Washington about two years ago, but most of my earlier work was in the Southern California area. It's nice to be back and hearing from my patrons how they had bought some of my very first work and how my new work has matured.
BDA: What are your most popular pieces?
CJ: Some of my most popular themes are travel, hummingbirds, nursing, and quilting.
BDA: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you and your artwork?
CJ: I completely shut down my business and didn't make one piece of jewelry for a year. It took about a month to adjust to not creating, but that "pause" was also very much needed to see the world in a different light. I started walking every day and looking at nature. I started kayaking on local lakes and seeing the beauty around me and smiling. It was very therapeutic.
BDA: What inspires you the most to keep doing art?
CJ: Watching people come into my booth, even if it's not what they would wear, they are amazed by how many different ideas come out of my head. It is like miniature art.
BDA: How have you seen yourself grow as an artist?
CJ: I have grown with age. I am more precise with the color, balance and weight of each design and what type of design the clients would like to wear. It is a very different niche but when someone likes my work they are destined to get compliments and come back for more.
BDA: What is your latest project?
CJ: Now that some of the art shows are returning, I have lined up a few for this year. I started many new pieces including my new "Seahawks" theme and designing other favorites for the fall gift season.
BDA: Where can people learn more or purchase your art?
CJ: I mainly do art shows; each piece is unique and is best seen in person. My other shows besides Bellevue this year include Salmon Days in Issaquah and the Tacoma Food and Gift Show. More details are on my website.
BDA: Anything else you’d like to share with the Bellevue community?
CJ: I'm glad to be working again and look forward to a few more years of seeing my clients before it's time to retire. This is a hard job for me and my peers. The future of artists is diminishing and moving on. I hope America can keep our movement alive in the future.
Started in 2020, this blog is part of our He(ART) of Bellevue blog series. Each week leading up to the Bellevue Downtown Arts Market, we'll feature a participating local artist and their story. Support all artists who will be attending this year's in-person arts market by browsing their artwork and portfolios.
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