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On the Rise: Meet John Velten, the Indigenous Jewellery Designer Handcrafting Wearable Art in North Van

For this electrician-turned-artist, life is full of light-bulb moments.

By Alyssa Hirose for Vancouver Magazine, January 27, 2022

John Velten’s bold and fantastical childhood drawings led teachers to push him toward the arts—but instead he started a career as an electrician at the age of 17. “I thought there wasn’t any money in art,” he remembers. But two years out of high school, with 3,800 hours and half an apprenticeship under his belt, he knew electrical work wasn’t for him. “I was seeing people who were 40, 50, 60 years into the field who seemed unhappy,” he says. “I didn’t want to end up that way.”

Head and shoulder colour portrait of John Velten against a leafy background

Velten, who has Dene ancestry, quit his job and started a mentorship with Tahltan artist Alano Edzerza, then another with Haida artist Rick Adkins. He founded his own company, Northwest Styles, in 2016, and has practiced in painting, digital art, carving, metalwork, glasswork, 3D modelling and animation. The 26-year-old’s latest endeavour is First Nations Gallery, a jewellery company that forges Indigenous designs out of precious metals. Velten does all of the fabrication himself with a laser machine. Each necklace, ring and bracelet holds meaning—the Foundations ring, for example, has a beaver motif symbolizing strong beginnings, and the Deep Wisdom pendant’s design came from a run-in with an owl.

John Velten's Foundations ring close-up against white background
Velten’s own designs includes the Foundations ring, and he’s working on an engraved authentication system for his work—no replicating allowed!

View the full article here.

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