What It’s like When Art Is the Family Biz
“Art was shoved down my throat my whole life,” laughs the jewelry designer Devon Pavlovits, whose artist parents sent her to every imaginable craft class as a kid. As a teen, Devon rebelled before she succumbed. As she remembers, “I went back to my parents with my tail between my legs and told them I actually did want to go to art school.” Now, Devon works with both of her parents to help make their work more modern, versatile, and, of course, marketable: Her father Ivan, a former architect, has a collection of lighting and furniture, and her mom Gabriella was a major fiber artist in the seventies. In turn, they influence her line of metal, glass, and pearl jewelry. Here, she shares what she’s learned from collaborating with them...in a studio shared with her brother glassblower Mark, no less.
“My dad’s pieces were old-fashioned, and I helped him make things more minimal and modern. He would use plywood or other inexpensive materials to be cost-effective, but I showed him that using better quality materials could make a huge difference in sales. I helped my mom streamline her work and make it more versatile. I asked her to create more all-white pieces and use brass bars to hang her work rather than branches. With both my parents, my goal is to help make their work more sellable to a modern market.”
“I respect my mother’s work so much, and she’s learning to trust my advice. She’s brilliant and incorporates a million different techniques into each piece. She’s got so much intensity and passion, which is what makes her work so good. The advice I give her is purely meant to help her make her pieces more versatile. I always try to come from a place of respect. My mom and I know that we get frustrated with each other more easily. We keep our meetings brief. My dad and I have always gotten along well and are constantly bouncing ideas off one another. I’ve figured out how best to work with each of them.”
“My mom sketches her designs first, before our collaboration starts. Then we talk about proportions and colors, and I go with her to choose materials and colors. My father and I work more closely right from the beginning. We choose materials, draw designs, and build pieces together, problem-solving any construction issues that come up along the way.”
“We share a studio with my brother Mark, who is a glassblower. Everyone’s pieces inform my own work, and it’s great to be able to use everyone’s different expertise when testing new designs. I have this amazing built-in set of collaborators.”
“My parents had both been artists for a long time before we started working together. It took time for them to trust my input. When my dad started taking my advice, the more positive responses we got at trade shows, the more he started to listen to me. My mom is very strong and can be stubborn, but when she saw that the advice I was giving other designers and my dad was helping them sell more, she started to come around. Now we all go to trade shows together!”