Every month we introduce you to one of the Canadian artists we represent. There is no salt and pepper, we reveal the rawest story on our artists' creative journey. How they met and fell in love with jewellery? What inspired them and how? What was the making process like? What are the tips on being a successfully established jewellery artist? Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages to stay up to date on our latest collections. Go to INTERVIEW ARCHIVE to read more stories.

Artist of the Month (17): Ivan Dobren

August 04, 2020

Introducing Montréal-based jewellery artist and goldsmith Ivan Dobren. Born in the Czech Republic and raised in Montréal, this Canadian artist is never satisfied by cutting corners, and describes his craft as a "never-ending quest for perfection."

Peridot ring - sterling silver, 14k yellow gold, peridot

Q: What is your origin story?

My father was Czech, and an artist, and my mother was Greek. I was born in the Czech Republic, and we came to Canada when I was very young. My father was the typical artist beatnik, and he adored seeing and exploring different places. We travelled extensively as a family, spending our summers in France, Italy and Greece. The remaining ten months of the year we were back at home in Montréal.

Ivan Dobren's jeweller's bench.

Q: How did you get started in the jewellery industry?

When I was at West Hill High School in Snowdon I needed a summer job. Packing groceries or flipping burgers were not what I had in mind as satisfying experiences, so my father got me a job at a high-end jewellery store in Westmount owned by one of his friends. At first, I ran errands and cleaned up the shop, but later progressed to become an apprentice, and kept the position throughout high school. A couple of years later I bought my own tools and equipment and kept with jewellery to support my more extravagant hobbies (I always really liked sports cars). I took a year-long course at Armand Brochard Master Jeweller School at the same time I was finishing my Political Science and History degree at McGill.

Q: What is your work process like?

There are two sides to jewellery, as there are in any business. There’s the creative side, which is the fun part, and then there’s the business side, reproducing those creations for clients and stores across Canada. I thoroughly enjoy the creation side of the business: there is something majestic about designing and producing a prototype from metal and wax, taking it all the way to the final touches and moulding. The production part is boring and I can do it with my eyes closed--but as in any business, it’s the part that facilitates my extravagant hobbies. In other words, being a poor artist isn’t something I would sign up for.

Geometric ring - sterling silver, 14k yellow gold, blue topaz, pearls, pink tourmaline

Q: What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from working in the industry?

Jewellery is a business. You can make the most beautiful, technically demanding statement jewellery, but it’s all redundant unless that piece of exquisite jewellery has a customer out there that is willing to pay the exorbitant price for it.

Necklace and earrings set - sterling silver, 14k yellow gold, pearls

Q: What tips do you have for aspiring designers?

Don’t cut corners. The actual design of any piece of jewellery is subjective; it’s the designer’s opinion—the finish is not. Any piece of jewellery you produce has to rival Fabergé, Cartier, Bulgari. The essence of any viable piece of jewellery is the quality of workmanship—the design is an after-thought.

Ivan Dobren's work studio.

Q: What is your motto? Or do you have a single phrase that defines the way you work?

If you’re going to do it, do it well—or at the very least the best you’re capable of. Cutting corners is not an option. Making jewellery is not space-shuttle technology, I just try to get it to that level every time I sit at the bench. The never-ending quest for perfection is the name of the game.

A big thank you to Ivan for inspiring us with their creative journey and insight!