Four years ago, Newark-born visual artist Joshua Fennell encountered a series of unfortunate events in his personal life. To stave off mounting depression, he threw himself into his art but found no joy with his results. Seeking a new direction, he purchased assorted colored beads from craft stores around New York City. In his spare time, he began creating one-of-a-kind jewelry from everything he could get his hands on: bolts, washers, even recycled hardware. After displaying on social media what was a hobby, a following gradually grew for his one-of-a-kind unisex jewelry brand, Jewelry by Joshua Co.
Within months, Fennell began selling his pieces alongside his paintings at his art shows around Manhattan.
I recently met with him to get a sneak peek of his current inventory. When I arrived at his workspace, his face was buried in a sea of beads, faux bones, skulls of various colors, and random oddities that he began stringing together.
All creatives, regardless of medium, have their rituals and processes when their muses’ sway are at their peak. Fennell’s muse talks to him in the early hours of the morning. “My day starts off between three to five in the morning. When most are asleep, I have a creative energy surging through me,” he said while gently placing recent creations on a table for viewing. “I’ll play some music, sit in my chair, look at the various amounts of beads and materials I have and just go off. I love colors and here is where that love of vibrant color comes into play. Next thing I know I’ve tied a knot into the third necklace or sixth bracelet and I realized I’ve been up for at least five hours straight without any food or water for that matter.”
Vibrant color is definitely the foundation of his aesthetic. His ‘Pride’ line, one of several lines of jewelry he’s created, is the most colorful of them all. But instead of using only rainbow colored beads, he expanded his scope and incorporated items like painted sea shells, poker chips, even pebbles, to create a familiar look of Pride yet keeping it distinct.
His Digital Inventory
His collection boasts over six different lines to fit a variety of personalities, even genders. “My lines are more or less an extension of who I am and what I find interesting. For example, we have what I call the MacGyver line. It includes beautiful beads along with actual hardware such as nuts, washers, wingnuts, springs, and whatever else I can find that feels right. One day I was in the dollar store and saw these toy cars of various colors. I started thinking, is there a way to string up cars with beads? To my surprise, there was. That’s how ‘The Toy Box’ line got started. There is also the Versus line, which is an ode to my love of superheroes, the aforementioned Pride line, a 420 line using vape pen tips and assorted 420 paraphernalia, and finally “The *Papstract Line.” That’s when I paint wooden beads and string them up giving the wearer a more bohemian vibe.”
What sets Fennell’s jewelry apart from others is not just its individuality. They are also of fine quality that isn’t terribly expensive. Moreover, all new customers get a custom gift with their first purchase. “I like giving away free stuff. On my Etsy page, with your first purchase, you get a free bracelet. If you buy more I send little gifts and thank you notes to show appreciation for all customers,” he said while showing me gifts-with-purchase pieces. “Also,” he abruptly added, “there is free shipping on all items purchased through my website and Etsy page. We can never forget that.”
Joshua’s pieces can be found on Etsy under JewelrybyJoshuaCo and on his website JFennellArt.com.
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