Spending her entire life immersed in art—textiles and painting, specifically—Sonya Gallardo never put much thought into jewelry-making. That is, until her gut told her to drop out of California College of the Arts after completing a residency program in New York. In a back-in-L.A., living-with-the-‘rents bind, Sonya had the urge to make something, anything. “I wanted to create things, but after I moved into my brother’s old room, I didn’t have the space,” she explains. “So I thought, ‘What can I make that’s small enough to fit on this table?’” Influenced by craft practices and symbols found in folk art, the work began as a hobby soon turned into the next phase of her creative development. But Sonya couldn’t let her love of painting fall by the wayside: Using vintage brass plates, silk-wrapped chains, and acrylics, the newly minted designer took a paintbrush to her work.
After a friend reblogged a photo of her latest endeavor, her whimsically charming—and not at all cutesy—aesthetic really caught on. As she says, “I couldn’t fill orders fast enough. I didn’t know what I was doing!” Founded in July 2011, HighLow Jewelry is fueled by the conversation about high and low art—and Sonya’s opposition to all that. “I don’t like those terms,” she explains. “So I combined them into one word to neutralize them.” That, and to make them her own. —lauren caruso
Behind The Scenes
Inside (Some of) Sonya Gallardo’s Most Memorable Studios One of them was open-air, even.Sonya Gallardo, a huge fan of making personal spaces public à la the French conceptual artist Sophie Calle, says her studios have evolved with the type of work she creates—they’ve shifted as she’s moved from painting to textile design to accessories (her line: HighLow Jewelry). Here’s a look at where she started out and where she creates now. —lauren caruso“This is the studio I had during my second year at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, before ... READ MORE »
Sonya Gallardo’s Creative Counterpart Can Count Her Age on One Hand Meet HighLow Jewelry’s secret weapon.Handcrafting (and hand-painting) jewelry out of a small L.A. studio can get lonely, but Sonya Gallardo has an under-the-radar helper coordinating things behind-the-scenes: her five-year-old niece Sofie. “She inspires me so much because kids don’t have these preconceived notions of what art should be or what things should look like,” Sonya explains. “Her thought process is so untainted.” Check out how Sonya and Sofie fuel each other’s creative pursuits. —la... READ MORE »