Tanel Veenre’s mysterious, enchanting jewellery is internationally acclaimed – his exhibitions have taken place in metropolises from Berlin to Bangkok; his pieces are sold in galleries in Sweden, Turkey, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada and the US, and he is often invited to teach in art colleges around the globe. In July, Veenre’s jewellery enhanced the windows of the world famous Selfridges retail store in London.
Born in Tallinn, Estonia, in 1977, Veenre grew up in a family of artists and musicians and studied jewellery at the Estonian Academy of Arts. Currently he is working as freelance artist, designer for his jewellery brand TVJ and as a professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts. Estonian World talked to Veenre about his success, inspiration and goals.
You are one the most acknowledged Estonian jewellery designers. What has made you this successful: is it talent, hard work or anything else?
I prefer not to be the judge for myself. The only thing I know for sure is that I work more than a lot, spending the best hours of every day in my studio. In addition, in the mornings and in the evenings I’m usually in my home office. Managing has become a major part of the work.
Are you rather an artist or a designer?
I would never have this struggle without people constantly asking it! Why should I define myself? I am a creative soul who can use both sides of my brain.
You use a lot of different materials from wood to gold, from plastic to cosmic dust. Do you have any favourites among them?
I feel a strong connection with organic materials. Working with hands, I feel the warmth and energy of these materials; they are great partners for an artistic dialogue.
Who is your target customer?
For my art jewellery After all, the price makes a difference as well – probably priorities of spending are rather different if you are ready to buy jewellery for €1,500 or €50.
Where do you get your ideas from? Are they born while playing with materials or are they ready before you start working?
I feel like a sponge … sucking in the impulses with every breath. There are always hundreds of ideas that won’t ever make it into flesh and that can stress me a lot. But yes, materials themselves are a great source; I try to listen to them. Touch them, feel the possibilities. I am very intuitive and sensual in this state of creating.
Do you have any (creative) role models?
I am bad with idols, I can’t blindly admire. But I appreciate my teachers Kadri Mälk and Ruudt Peters a lot. And I also have a great family and most empathic and clever friends – I’m learning from them every day.
You just arrived from China where you were teaching – tell us more about that.
There has been a lot of teaching everywhere lately: before China I was in Brazil, then Taiwan, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Israel… In every place I try to sense the mentality and expectations and to get into most fruitful dialogue. China was very relaxing – some super talented students and some more lazy ones, great mix. But such great talks despite the language barrier. I hope they learned as much as I did!
And still my favourite is my home university – Estonian Academy of Arts. I am sure it`s one of the best schools in the world, at least for art jewellery studies.
You have had exhibitions in Berlin and Barcelona, in St Petersburg, London, Stockholm and Bangkok… Your jewellery has been on the windows of Selfridges, on the pages of Vogue. Where to next? In other words, what are your next goals?
First of all, it’s always about making stronger art piece than ever before. Right now, I am preparing three major bodies of work for next year. First one will be presented in Munich at a gallery called Platina. There will be others in autumn in Estonia and USA. That keeps me super thrilled, I just want to keep my hands busy all the time. Besides that, I work simultaneously with fashion jewellery series – I’m preparing also two new collections with materials that I haven’t worked with before. And I have one bigger goal – probably the biggest and most important one I have ever had – but I don’t want to talk about it before it happens.
Finally, tell us, what do you do when you’re not working?
Photos by Tanel Veenre. Cover portrait of Tanel Veenre by Stina Kase.