Interview with Elissa Halloran -By: Liam Sweeny

Written by on October 11, 2022

When we think of the creative world, we think of the artists and the musicians, the writers and the sculptors. We might think of the venues, that cool club or the concert hall that’s the talk of the town, but there are other people out there who form the structure upon which the creative word is built.

Elissa Halloran is just such a person. She is a jewelry maker, and she sells her designs on Lark Street, along with the work of innumerable local artists. She’s made so many of our creatives feel welcomed in the Capital Region, and she’s a creative 

RRX: Your shop on Lark has played host to a lot of local artists’ work. And in some cases, being in your store might have been their first break, a sign that they’d reached a point in their art that they wanted to reach, an excitement. It’s a very emotional thing. Can you think of a time that you knew an artist needed to be in your store beyond sales?

EH: So, during the first year of the pandemic, I spent a lot more time looking at things on Facebook than I did normally. I saw some work by a local artist- Sarah Holub Schrom. It was colorful, fantastical, full of imagery that spoke to me at that difficult time in the world. I became obsessed with her work. I bought three original pieces and wanted to sell prints of her work at my store. I just wanted to share her work with the world! She got picked up by a local gallery. I was very happy for her but was not able to carry her work until just recently. She is prolific- always making art – it is her calling. My love of her work helped me through a difficult time.

RRX: Being on Lark Street, you have a great view of the Lark scene. I am a passionate connoisseur of local scenes, as much as I can while never actually leaving my house. And I know through my non-exploration that every scene has a unique character. Every scene has something that sets it apart. What does Lark Street have?

EH: Lark Street has an energy that is almost unexplainable. I was drawn to it in high school. I used to shop at all of the cool stores with my best friend. It was the mid 80’s, so Lark Street had a very punk rock feel then. It is an ever-changing street. I have had a store here for 21 years and have seen all of the ups and downs. Throughout these changes, it has always been artsy and interesting and fun. I say too often – there is never a dull moment on Lark Street.

RRX: You’re not just a store owner. You make your own jewelry. Some people consider that more a craft than an art; I’m not one of them. I’m also not one who thinks that crafting involves any lesser talent than formal art. It’s a full creative pursuit, especially the way you do it. How does someone start, but really advance in jewelry making?

EH: I think to advance in jewelry making, you need to have great teachers and mentors. You need to listen, observe, and ask lots of questions. I had a wonderful teacher who worked at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, Mary Wheeler. She was/is wonderful and supportive. We became great friends. I also worked at Drue Sanders Custom Jewelers for a short stint. Everyone there was great to me and I learned so much before I opened my store.  I really relate to other women in business – not just other jewelers. It takes a special person to undertake the opening and nurturing of a business. 

Come see me at the store!

RRX: The only person we had in the paper who was practiced in 3D media was artist Royal Guy Brown. And jewelry making is 3-dimensional media. When you make a piece, are you as aware of the shape of the piece as you are the stones you’re putting together? Is it just about having a pendant having a flat back? 

EH: When I find some beads, or a pendant, and can almost immediately visualize what I want to do with them. I get impatient and want to move onto the next piece while I am in the middle of making the first one. I also make “skeleton guys”- whimsical people that I make with wire-found objects, and skeleton heads. I have been making these for about 15 years, but when I was closed for two and a half months during the pandemic, I made about 100 of these. I would find a weird object and shape each “guy” around that object. Making them kept me sane, they are fun, so it took my mind off of all of the scariness and uncertainty of the pandemic.

RRX: One of the things we see a lot in artists is the fact that their work is a physical product for sale. With musicians, their stuff is usually for sale digitally, and it’s usually dirt cheap. But artists can’t be dirt cheap. Paint isn’t dirt cheap. semi-precious stones cost something. How hard a time do you think artists have not selling themselves short?

EH: It’s hard to figure out pricing when you first start making art. My confidence in my skills and product was very low in the beginning. I always joke that you know you have made it when your first stranger buys your art. (It’s usually family, coworkers and friends that buy your art in the beginning.) I think it takes years to learn the value of your trade.

RRX: As was said in the beginning of this interview, you’ve seen a lot of artists come up, you’ve helped a lot of them up, and you still do. And I know you can’t give me a favorite artist without possibly hurting some feelings. So, let me dodge that by asking you to tell me a story about any artist that you’ve had that touched your heart in a unique way?

EH: Artist who touched my heart in a unique way. I think that would have to be my mom. She is an artist- a collage artist and printmaker now, but in the past she did macrame and soft sculpture. She also taught kids painting classes at the Arts Center of the Capital Region. She exposed me and my siblings to many art forms and was always supportive of what I did. She and my dad came to all of my art and craft shows that I did before I opened my store. I have also featured her art at my store over the years. Her advice and love and support have given me my livelihood and my love for all things art.

Current track