Memphis artist Lauren Carlson began her jewelry line Question the Answer
in 2011 exploring materiality and creating artistic adornments with incredible detail. Lauren began hand painting skull pendants she shaped from wood and detailed with ink. A statement piece, she calls the “sugar skull,” can be considered her signature design after catching the attention of many in the local fashion community.
The name Question the Answer is her nod to material exploration as a means to unveil new perspectives. Continuing to question the answer, she has produced various collections of wood and metal - intricate yet simple in form. Now Lauren is launching a new collection using gemstones that is meant to be minimal as well as versatile.
“The gemstone collection is very minimal; simple pastel stones are set without any type of ornamentation or pattern. I really love the versatility of this type of design; it works for so many different women,” she says.
“I’m still learning different techniques and finding what works for me. Some of the methods I'm trying for the first time, so staying minimal is key. This collection is my first step towards the inclusion of gemstones. The next step will be to acquire a couple more tools to quicken the production process, thus allowing me to launch new designs.”
To keep acquiring new techniques, Lauren will be launching a crowd-funding campaign in late August to add these new tools to her studio.
“Within the campaign I will be completing the evolution of my original design, the sugar skull, by casting it in metal. The sugar skulls represent the idea of inanimate desire and frivolity, in which sparked my journey into jewelry making. I am so excited to come full circle and to see how this design has changed over the years.“
Memphis is Lauren’s home. She's surrounded by most of her family — being here is comforting. “It is my constant,” she says. Her Midtown studio is within her neighborhood and is in a building she shares with other artists.
“My Memphis consists of a tightly knit and incredibly encouraging creative community. I love seeing other artists thrive here and it helps me to know that the life I’m trying to make is possible. It’s really affordable to live here and that’s incredibly beneficial to me, start-ups cost money, and in the beginning it’s really nice to know you can at least have your rent paid.”
Seeing the style of her jewelry, it would be fair to assume that it relates to her own personal style, which she describes as functional and simplistic. Her clothing is almost the stage where jewelry can shine. “When I’m dressing up, I gravitate towards solid colors to show off my jewelry — that way I can layer lots of pieces without looking too loud or overdone.”
“I love the basics; most of my closet is filled with neutral colored tees and high waist jeans. That’s not to say that I do not own extravagant pieces. I’m a New Years Eve baby, so I know the importance of breaking out that sequined mermaid skirt from time to time. Occasionally, a girl just needs to feel a bit luxurious,” she adds.
A place like Memphis has the natural ability to influence one’s personal style. “I’ve always been attracted to highly patterned pieces and bright hues, but I’ve just now found ways to balance those complexities. Memphis radiates a similar liveliness and I think that aspect of my style is deeply rooted to this city.”
You can order from her line on her website or at local shops such as City & State and Menage.
Dress, Elizabeth Suzann
, a Nashville-based designer / Sandals, Madewell
Sightseer Slide Sandal / Jewelry, Question the Answer (“of course”) & heirloom pieces from her grandmother
Gem collection photos by Annabella Charles Photography
and courtesy of Annabella Brandon and Lauren Carlson.
Crowd-funding Campaign Details
Find updates on her campaign on her website: www.questiontheanswer.com
& follow along on her Instagram page: @questntheanswr