Doug D'souza is a prolific creator of unique jewelry designs that span from elegant to dramatic statement pieces. He says he strives to create jewelry that is eye catching and distinctive with a rustic and organic flair. While naturally drawn to metal, Doug also enjoys working in silver, gold, copper, brass and bronze, as well as alternative metals like aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. Vitreous enamel introduced him to a new world of color, and endless experimentation. In his work, Doug enamels his designs on copper, silver-leaf or fine silver, and uses them as focal pieces and accents. His art works range from elegant to dramatic, and showcase a variety of colors, patterns and textures.
We asked Doug about his art and inspiration, and he told quite a story of resilience and dedication to his craft:
How long have you been an artist?
My journey as a maker started with first being a breaker. As a child, I was fascinated with technology and had a deep desire to understand how things worked. I would meticulously take my toys apart to satisfy my curiosity, then try to reassemble them. I was mostly successful and learned early on that my hands could make things. I guess looking back I've always been a creative person and became a full time Jewelry Artist 21 years ago.
What is your medium and how did you arrive at it?
I was born in Mumbai, India where I experienced cultural and religious diversity, and rich colors and textures that would later influence my work. I moved to the U.S. in 1980 to pursue my education and career in engineering mechanics.
After graduation, I started working for BMW, a job I enjoyed for almost a decade. Then one seemingly ordinary day, a high-speed rear collision changed the course of my life, and at the same time turned on a creative light that has shone bright ever since.
After the accident, I could no longer physically do my work, so I set out to nurture my creative side with a course in Graphic Design. This led to an internship in a local studio where I learned how to etch and carve glass. I created edge-lit sculptures, lamps and room dividers using hand-fabricated copper to frame the glass. Unfortunately once again, another accident would change my direction. A back injury during an installation forced me to shrink my canvas to a more manageable size.
I was always drawn to metal. Already familiar with copper, I learned jewelry metalsmithing through books and video tutorials. It all seemed to come quite naturally to me. The process of designing, sawing, shaping and soldering metal is very meditative by nature. I spent hours sitting at my bench totally in the zone, practicing various techniques to achieve my desired results.
What inspires your art?
My designs are inspired by nature, architecture, culture, spirituality, and the natural beauty of the rustic and organic.
How supportive do you feel the St. Petersburg community is for the arts and artists?
I have lived in the area since 1997. St. Petersburg is a wonderful city for artists to be discovered. There are so many opportunities and venues that appreciate and support local artists. I have always felt supported by the local community through the galleries and specialty shops that carry my work.
Why did you join the Warehouse Arts District Association?
I was excited when I first heard about WADA and wanted to be a part of a collective of creative people.
Anything else that you would like for us to know about you and your art?
Ironically, after working for years with sterling silver, I developed an allergy to it. This led me to search for hypoallergenic alternative metals to incorporate in my work. I now use surgical stainless steel, aerospace aluminum and anodized titanium. I find these lightweight metals compliment my designs well and I'm able to offer larger and heavier looking pieces that are light and comfortable to wear. I still accept commissions in sterling silver.
We are living through some crazy times for sure. The devastating loss of lives due to the Pandemic has inspired me to create enameled Candy Skulls and hand cut skulls from US coins. It's my way of trying to cope and offer a symbol that celebrates life.
Is there anything in particular that you would like to promote in the article such as your website, etc.?
I am constantly creating new pieces and usually post them on Instagram @dougdsouzajewelry. Some of them are sent out to galleries and shops. Others are shared on my Facebook page and are listed on my website and Etsy shop.
Etsy Store: www.dougdesigns.etsy.com