Designer Clarissa Knighten left corporate America a couple of years ago to pursue her dream of creating handcrafted jewelry. Today, this self-taught artist runs Rissa’s Artistic Design where she’s known for her bold, beautiful, and wearable art. Her wares run the gamut from “earthy to edgy to elegant,” she says. Take one look and you’ll spy her jewelry has a voice and an expressive story of resilience. “I would like to help people understand jewelry is art and, in every form, heals,” she says.
The fashionista is about to make her third appearance on the runway at Kansas City Fashion Week, which begins next Wednesday. (Plus, you’ll find her handiwork on the cover of this month’s edition of the magazine too.) We caught up with Knighten to find out five things we don’t know about the—look! something shiny!—designer.
5. “Four out of seven days per week you will hear crunch, crunch, crunch, hoping to not break a filling in a tooth. Deep fried pork rinds known as cracklin’ can be found in my hands. It keeps me out of the sour candy dish. They have no carbs and are high in protein.”
4. “I didn’t grow up painting my nails. Now it works in my favor. As a jewelry artist, my hands are constantly twisting wire. Just when my nails grow out, one gets chipped. So you’ll never see these fingernails painted.”
3. “Being the daughter of a Chief Master Sargent in the Air Force meant spending first through third grade living in the Philippines. I loved it there because my parents had special Barbie doll furniture made specifically for me. Though it went through a bold paint job—I still own it.”
2. “Creativity has always been in the inner soul. Being an architect was always my dream career. Though it didn’t happen, the structural component can be seen in my work.”
1. “I see visions of wearable art in everything from found objects to artwork on the walls. Art is my muse. Recently I was given a stack of coffee bags to see what could be created. As the conversation progressed, my vision became clear. This reminds me of the movie Field of Dreams—you know, ‘build it they will come.’ In my case, it’s ‘see it, then create.’”