Passion of a Navajo Silversmith, Aaron Anderson

Watch a bracelet be made from start to finish in 7 min. Listen to the passion of a leader in Navajo Jewelry. Aaron Anderson, master silversmith, gives us a glimpse into the spirit of his work.

Aaron Anderson:

The best advice that I got when I started to do this was from my brother-in-law. His name was Allison lee and he is world renowned for his art. They call him snow hawk. He said are you gonna do it for making money? I said I love doing it. If you better get into this business then you got to do something that no one else is doing and you better do it better than anybody else and then you will succeed. I am doing pretty good. You know the thing is anybody can copy me. I don’t care if anybody copies. I don’t give a shit because these ideas have been already done more than once.  You know thousands of years ago; hundreds of years ago someone already did it. So it’s not mine. It only becomes yours when you do it better than anybody else. So don’t bother me man. You know and they got a carve and everything like I do. So I don’t have that.

So anybody that buys an Aaron Anderson knows they are gonna get a rock they are gonna get an authentic Aaron Anderson. Everybody could copy this. I don’t give a shit. But they have to carve too- my dad and my grandfather, put my grandfather right there. But he was a silversmith too and so was my grandma grace. His wife and my dad you know my dad started learning the process of casting too which is too for casting and it just became natural for me. I got into this because I don’t have a boss and I am not a too good of a person to work like regular workers. I like doing things that I want to do. I even get into arguments with team and other people that buy my stuff because I like designing what I want to design. They just tell me a bracelet or they just tell me this. I don’t like people telling me oh he’s got a half this way or bullshit.

When someone tells me I will still do the project but it probably take me years because I will get it done. Silversmithing so two for cast you know I have taught a lot of people and I don’t mind teaching them. But I always tell them your concept will come about you know people will start recognizing your jewelry but what I am finding out is that the people that I have been teaching is start copying me which is all right because its always nice to be the leader and an innovator of something that always have been here. But you know its – buy because even though they are copying me and they do it you know people always say that looks like an Aaron Anderson you know. I don’t care how much silver goes up to this is what I love doing and this is what keeps me sober. I have been sober for little over 4 years now from alcohol but this is much more than just making money. To me it’s a passion and I love it. I can’t just sit around and not do it. I will sit there and just dabble and carving something for you know the people who want to buy it. But this is truly a passion. In that context like Carroll and me and Lester. Let’s separate it those guys who are only in it for the money from those who are truly making art.

I talked to one of friend of mine. He’s an avid collector and everything that he asked me if the price of silver was hurting me. I don’t really see it hurting me. I have to raise my prices a little bit but the cells are still there. He goes that’s great because I can tell you one thing that collectors never leaves. Collectors will always have money to spin. The only way they are gonna spin their money on you is that your ideas and the way you make jewelry has got to get better. So I had a choice. I had to get better and I had to make better quality jewelry because the collector was not gonna leave because he started looking at it as an investment now. It was no longer just the help support -. It was you know this is an investment. Let’s buy some real art. I like making thing heaving. I like making thing you know I like real sharp points and I like things that are real I don’t know that’s the way I look at art. I don’t know it becomes an Aaron Anderson that’s all I got to say. Even a little pendant, even a little tiny ring everything has block with it. Everything. If someone tried to sell you an Aaron Anderson and they don’t have a block then they probably lost a rock or I don’t know. And when I do make replications there is another stand that I put it in the back of it to know that it’s a replication. But it always is going to be limited. It’s not going to be like you are not going to see like five or six or even three of them. The chance of them being only two is what you will only see.

And lots of my stuff do have stories with it. But it’s so cheesy to tell them because I have seen so many artists tell these magnificent stories to people just to sell a piece. And that pisses me off man. That’s not right you know. I don’t go off start telling people story about something just to sell something. That aint right man. I think that the piece that you make and how it looks and everything else like that that should do all the talking for you. And if you have to talk about for that piece to sell it then you are probably not doing your work very well.  Would you say that most pieces that you make do have a strong meaning behind them? Oh yeah. Lot of them do. I mean if they didn’t I wouldn’t be probably doing it. Do you have any advice for the people that are trying to find work done by authentic artists?  See the thing that is real nice for them to know is is they can find that artist the person that made it. Then it also goes with some artists too they will use block they will use – nickel and then they will say its authentic just because they are in Ingrid. That’s all bullshit you know and if the price is too low and looks too low then its probably not real.

The best thing to do is just try and create a relationship with certain artist then you know its right then you know its good. And I know its hard for some people that are just getting in into collecting but if you could go to a reputable you know one of these traders or someone they usually have the authentic stuff.