Meet Georgina Treviño: Binational jewelry artist’s work fine art on a small scale
Artist Georgina Treviño creates custom jewelry for the likes of Bad Bunny and Doja Cat, but remains humble
Georgina Treviño knows that when it comes to fine art, jewelry isn’t the first medium that comes to mind for most people.
“Jewelry is often perceived as just jewelry. Jewelry you wear everyday or whatever,” Treviño says from her Little Italy studio. “I think it’s slowly being recognized as art especially when it comes to the bigger institutions. It should be seen the same as a painting, but of course, it’s not.”
As someone who has worked in a variety of art forms over the years, Treviño knows firsthand the meticulous nature of jewelry design.
“It’s a small sculpture for me, the jewelry I make,” Treviño says. “I’ve been a painter, I’ve done sculpture, and I want to do that again, but I want to do it with the language of jewelry.”
A quick glance at some of the names who have worn pieces by Georgina Treviño Contemporary Jewelry, and it’s easy to declare that she just might be one of the more successful artists in San Diego. Musical artists such as Doja Cat, Rosalía, Lizzo and even Lady Gaga have all donned pieces designed by Treviño at one point, and she has collaborated with big-name companies like Nike, Fenty and Playboy. But the big one for her?
“Bad Bunny wearing my stuff, that almost made me cry,” says Treviño, referring to a hat and earrings she designed for the Puerto Rican rapper and singer. He apparently liked her gold flame earrings, emblazoned with one of his song titles (“Yo Perreo Sola”), so much that he took them home after a music video shoot.
As was the case with the Bad Bunny pieces, Treviño works and collaborates with a number of stylists, directors and other artists on photo and video shoots. If she doesn’t have something readymade, Treviño will quickly design something even if, as she puts it, “I don’t sleep.”
“It’s a challenge for me. It’s almost like going back to school,” says Treviño, who graduated from San Diego State University’s Jewelry and Metalsmithining program. “The cool thing is that they trust me. They’ll send me what they need or a mood board, and tell me to make what I want.”
Still, she says the jewelry game can be tricky in that she sometimes designs something for a stylist only to have it not appear in the finished product.
“A lot of times I’ll design or send pieces and they won’t even wear them, because the stylist has so many options for the shoot,” says Treviño. “I know Beyoncé wore my stuff, but it will never come out. But still, I’m so honored they reached out, and I just think, ‘Well, maybe next time.’”
This humbleness extends to Treviño’s pieces, but only to a point. Equal parts camp and couture, ironic and iconic, Treviño’s designs are something that could easily be seen on a red carpet or in a city’s red light district. With her swap meet-meets-swag designs, she effortlessly melds the worlds of custom, high design jewelry with a street-savvy sense of irony.
For example, she can take an otherwise normal pair of hoop earrings and add a blinged-out lowrider and bejeweled tassels. In the case of Bad Bunny, she tricked out an otherwise normal looking bucket and cowboy hat with zirconia bands and flamed tassels. The result is in an accessories-within-an-accessory look that is as confounding as it is enviable.
“The current stuff is much more inspired by pop culture. Very honest work, but also satirical,” says Treviño. “I’m very inspired by the mass production of things, what’s happening on the street and the tackiness of things. The idea is that I want to take these pieces of pop culture and give them another chance by putting them in my jewelry.”
Treviño credits her binational upbringing as her main influence when it comes to her jewelry. Born in San Diego and raised primarily in Tijuana — she has dual citizenship — she attended Otay Ranch High School before heading to SDSU, where she initially majored in painting. She would often take breaks between semesters at SDSU to travel to places like Italy and Mexico City.
“I was always into fashion a lot and the art of it, but I went to Europe and I found this wire ring in one of the markets, and I thought, ‘Oh, I can make this,’” Treviño recalls. “When I was introduced to the metal program at SDSU, I realized I could make a career out of jewelry.”
In 2010, Treviño went to Mexico City to live for a year. While there, she took a workshop and set up a little studio to create her own pieces. She had her first jewelry exhibition while there and says the experience helped her make lifelong connections that are paying dividends now.
Treviño came back to San Diego to finish college, graduated in 2014 and decided to “fully dedicate to the jewelry brand” she’d started in Mexico City. She started in a small studio space in Barrio Logan, eventually moving to a solo space in Little Italy, and hasn’t stopped since. She acknowledges that living somewhere like Los Angeles or Mexico City might ultimately be better for her brand, but stays in San Diego for its proximity to the border and because it “grounds” her.
“I think I’m living in the best of both worlds by living in San Diego,” Treviño says. “I go to ship stuff to Tijuana once a week. I have L.A. two hours away. If I need to go to Mexico City, I can just take a flight out of Tijuana.”
And while a lot of artists had a rough year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Treviño used her quarantine time to lean into her creativity. She started a “COVID-19 Collab” series, working virtually with international artists on custom pieces.
“It helps them, but it also helps me as a challenge to work in other mediums,” says Treviño. “It’s artists from all over the world. Sometimes I don’t know them, and I just reach out to them, so it’s nice to officially meet people whose work you love. They might have 100 followers, they might have thousands, it’s just because I admire their work and could see a way to have jewelry in their work.”
Treviño also designed a custom brooch around this time to be auctioned off to support Black Lives Matter. Fashioned to look like a sheriff’s star, the piece was eventually acquired by the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City and added to its permanent collection.
This year, Treviño says she wants to reconnect with her painting roots and wants to up her production output. She also wants to realize her dream of opening a jewelry showroom in Mexico City.
“Not mass produced, but something to where it’s available in a shop,” says Treviño, who recently finished a custom can design for Cerveceria Insurgente, a Tijuana-based brewery.
Still, as big as she gets and as many celebrities might end up wearing her designs, Treviño, like any visual artist, just wants to keep perfecting her craft.
“I’m still growing and learning,” she says. “I’m still humble. I think I’m slowly getting there.”
Born: San Diego
Fun fact: At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Treviño put her skills to work to design a custom series of masks and accessorized hand sanitizer bottles.
Combs is a freelance writer.
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