Meet London’s Hottest Designers: Sketchy Bones Collective

During an otherwise pretty gloomy January, we had the absolute privilege of meeting with one of the most exciting DIY start-ups of 2020, Sketchy Bones Collective. These guys have been releasing some stunning jewellery with meticulous detail, rivalling the likes of TGF, Rat Betty and Tessa Metcalfe. Sketchy Bones Collective founders Cenan & Jess gave us an insight into the day-to-day activities of a creative design start-up that manages everything from marketing, branding, product development, design, and manufacturing in-house. 

Company creation and inspiration 

In Phase: So, tell me how Sketchy Bones Collective was conceived, I noticed that the company has roots in Architecture and Design. Did you have any experience making rings or anything similar before Sketchy Bones?

Sketchy Bones: As you mentioned, our background is in architecture, and during practice we have been very material based and tactile. We have a passion for process; sketchbook to computer to physical making; the transition into Sketchy Bones was quite organic. Prior to SBC we didn’t necessarily have jewellery making experience, but the skills from architecture were directly applicable.

In Phase: What inspired you to create Sketchy Bones Collective, did it simply begin as a love for rings or is there always been a plan to expand into other types of design?

Sketchy Bones: Cenan’s had a long running interest in anatomy and I (Jess) have always been fascinated by material exploration. In 2019 when we were in New York, we went into a shop in Lower Manhattan which was selling bones, skulls, big, beautiful illustrations, anatomical sculptures and we both just fell in love with it. I think we came up with the name ‘Sketchy Bones’ as we walked out of the shop. We’ve always wanted to expand past traditional architecture and it all just started to fall into place.

The Design and creative process

In Phase: So, I saw a montage clip on your Instagram of the process and timeline of events that goes into creating the rings. Could you explain the steps for our readers?

Sketchy Bones: We always start with something real, whether it be a broken bone fragment, a skull or even a flower we’ve found particularly beautiful, and then we start sketching. We utilise our architecture skills in the design process, so taking these sketches and 3D modelling them on a computer. We’re then able to 3D print and cast them in the desired material. Every step of the process is done by us. As mentioned before, SBC stems from our passion for process, so the two of us work on every step, this is what we find exciting; from seeing a sketch become an object, the adrenaline of handling 1000°C molten silver to the satisfaction of a highly polished piece of metal.

In Phase: Obviously, your product range has expanded beyond rings and now includes pendants & prints. How easy is it to start exploring new types of products, is it just a case of adapting pre-created assets and designs that may have been appropriate for a whole range of products, or does the decision to offer a new range kickstart a whole new process?

Sketchy Bones: I suppose there is some adapting of assets which can be transferred, but for the most part, each design is original. The foundation of the process largely remains the same across all products, but each product will come with its requirements. Foresight is so important, we have to pin down every step of the process prior to making to see if it’s feasible. However, the designs require an iterative process, sometimes things just don’t work out and we have to go back a few steps and rethink – behind the scenes, this happens a lot and is something to embrace.

In Phase: At the moment the team is just the two of you right? Is it easy working on a professional project together as a couple? Do you find it easy to switch off and take off the sketchy hat? Do you both have clearly defined individual tasks and processes or are you both involved in every aspect equally?

Sketchy Bones: Switching off is easy for us, we’re both highly motivated but we know it’s important to think about other things. As we’re a design company, it’s crucial we find inspiration through other means; watching films, reading books, going to exhibitions; it’s surprising how much switching your brain off can turn it on. We’re constantly learning from one another, whether that’s tips and tricks on the computer, or workshop techniques, it works well to share tasks as they come.

In Phase: How important a part do family play in the success of Sketchy? Are your families also involved in the project in any way?  

Sketchy Bones: Family has been the most important thing. They were our first customers and they’re the ones that put up with our schedules and mess. We’re thankful for their support from day zero. 

In Phase: Do you have plans to expand the team at any time in the future?

Sketchy Bones: Not any time soon, the two of us are managing well, we enjoy the duo dynamic, but that’s not a definitive no. We’re always up for collaboration and being inspired by amazing people.

Marketing and Brand philosophy

In Phase: I wanted to spend some time discussing your brand and social media presence, you joined Instagram in the middle of summer, right? Already you’ve amassed a significant following, is this down to a consistent strategy, or do you feel the quality of the products has organically garnered interest with not much time devoted to marketing? (or both).

Sketchy Bones: I don’t recall when we joined but we started to spread the word around June 2020. At this point, we had a fully functioning website with a range of products, it wasn’t growing through social media, it was more the case of here we are, here’s what we do, check us out. It was crucial for us to exist outside of social media prior to joining, this gave us a concrete presence, we’re determined not to be a trend. Posting on social media just comes as and when we have the product, we do like to keep it as consistent as possible, but we’ll never force content, sometimes it’s worth waiting for the right moment and image.

Ideas for the future

In Phase: What are your plans going into 2021? Are you looking to expand further on the types of products? What’s exciting you the most going into the new year?

Sketchy Bones: We’re always looking to expand the range, we’re always looking to learn new techniques and update the workshop and meet new people. We’ve got some exciting things coming up but we’re keeping them quiet for now. Just keep an eye out on Instagram (@sketchybonescollective) but more importantly on our website (www.sketchybonescollective.com).

Sketchy’s fantastic range of new products can be found here.

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