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Meet Rosa Ruiz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rosa Ruiz.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’ve been creating art since I was a small child (including a crayon wall mural that lost our security deposit lol!). My mom was always my biggest supporter, encouraging me to explore different mediums, taking me and my siblings to museums and art exhibits, and making sure we had time for any projects we were working on.

In 2008, I successfully juried into the membership of the Spanish Village Art Center. It’s been my art home based ever since. I’ve been part of several of the studios there, before finally settling in quite happily as one of the outdoor patio artists. Since 2017, I’ve been part of the SVAC Board of Directors, where I help with both the day to day running of things and organizing shows and special events.

Please tell us about your art.
While I work in several mediums, the two I’m showcasing today are my leather work and wire wrapped jewelry.

I learned to carve and tool leather in 2013, and haven’t been able to put it down since! I use my skills to create purses, belt bags, wallets, sheaths, etc. although my favorite projects are often one-off custom items. Those are usually my SCA, and Ren Faire customers need for their garb and costumes, but I’ve also found a little niche designing and crafting leather book covers. WWE legend Mick Foley and celebrity Santa Robert Suetter both have ‘Naughty or Nice’ X-mas books for their holiday work; and I have created a number of other, simpler designs for people.

My process for any of my works begins with drawing or finding the perfect image and tracing it on to a piece of tooling leather (commonly referred to as Veg-Tan leather). I then carve along all the lines.

Now the hard part begins. Using a rawhide mallet and a variety of tiny stamps, I depress one side of each cut line and add textures and patterns. This tooling technique is what can give a leather image so much dimension. After everything is stamped out just the way I want it, I apply a combination of dyes and acrylic paints for color. I don’t yet own a leather sewing machine, so if the tooled piece is going to be part of a bigger project, the final step is to hand-stitch it all together.

I feel the handcrafted nature of my work is one of the things that makes my shop special. Most of my tools are the same as what leather workers a hundred years ago were using. My customers appreciate the attention to detail I give to every step of my work, and I take deep pride in creating beautiful and functional items that will (hopefully) last for decades.

On the jewelry side of things, I apply that same level of quality craftsmanship to every piece I make, matter how simple it may appear to be. I work primarily in copper wire, and a variety of semiprecious gemstones. I draw my inspiration from the stones themselves, as well as timeless forms and patterns. I want my pieces to look like something that would not be out of place in ancient Egypt, the Mayan civilization, or Old Ireland. Spirals, coils, and interwoven knots, heavy visual textures, even the occasional bit of leather; all are important in my designs. I want my customers to feel like gods and goddesses when they wear my necklaces.

And whether it’s jewelry or leather craft, when people see my designs on the street, I want them to recognize it.

What do you think about the conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
In a way, things are definitely easier. With the rise of the internet, it’s easier for artists to connect with each other and their collectors. You can set up a great little show with minimal advertising cost, just a lot of hard work online.

Unfortunately, it’s also easier to get lost in the crowd. Your work really needs to stand out and be unique in some way to get attention.

There are lots of things San Diego can do encourage and help artists. Make sure funding for the arts is a budget priority. Develop and grow more shows similar to Art Walk, as well as smaller events centered around communities. Something we also need is more spaces for emerging artists to show and work, artists who may not have the money or fame to get into the big shows. Gallery 21 in Spanish Village and the studio spaces in Barrio Logan are great for this, but there’s always a need for more. Lastly, we need more art education for the general public. People need to know how to appreciate art, to know that it’s not a pipe dream to want to become an artist, to know that a piece of real art is going to be more expensive than something you get at Walmart or the discount print bin at Michael’s, but it’s so worth it.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I show in Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park almost every weekend, where you can see my new projects and watch me work. You’ll also find me at different street fairs, and alley art shows, the Escondido Renaissance Faire, and as far north as Vail HQ in Temecula, for their summer Starlight Bazaar. Of course, you also always find my work on Instagram, where you can see not only the art but plenty of behind the scenes pictures of the studio.

How can people support my work?
Well, obviously, buying some it is a great start, lol.

There are lots of ways to support your local artists. Follow us on social media and like our images. Tell your friends about us. Come to our shows, even if it’s just to say hi and cheer us on. When you can support an artist with a purchase, try to buy local. Spread the love.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rosa Ruiz

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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