We had the good fortune of connecting with Waddie CrazyHorse and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Waddie, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
Where I come from and my background are the most integral aspects to the maturation of my business. I have a unique story which weaves between the old and the new worlds; this non-linear life path can be both a blessing an a curse. As a 3rd-generation Native American silversmith, I am the continuation and evolution of the artistic heritage passed down from my grandpa, Joe H. Quintana. In a way similar to my father, Cippy CrazyHorse, I have taken those inherited technical skills and made them my own. But this blessing can be much more complicated to negotiate than it at first seems! The question here is: accounting for all that I have been given, how do I make my own way without trying too hard not to imitate? Along with the techniques and tools, I inherited a network comprised of museum buyers, gallery owners, and collectors eager to support and encourage me, the upcoming generation. These blessings bring internal pressure and expectations to not just perform, but to really produce good work and push the artistic boundaries. I’d be lying if I said it came easily at first. For one, the jewelry market doesn’t lie, and what I mean by that is: design and craftsmanship speak volumes. If you pursue something as a means to an end (i.e. solely to make money) it will show through your work. Just as with any other artistic pursuit, whether it be guitar, or photography or poetry, the amount of pride contained in your work will grow with you as you develop as an artist. It’s a game that continually pays dividends as the skills spiral upward. As you put in your hours of practice, as you earn and hone the skills, the craft takes up its own identity, and this craft becomes an extension of you. Pride is an interpretation of love. To have pride in my work means to love my work. After about 2 years, I settled into my current groove of design motifs. It happened naturally, I didn’t force myself to be innovative or different. It just happened on its own because I enjoyed doing it; my work became another type of play. I believe every person is born with their unique genius. The challenge is in letting it flow freely from you. Creative genius is the conundrum of exploration and then surrendering to the natural processes of “distillation and filtration” of that knowledge. It is trusting the process without controlling it too much. I believe that if you put in your time and dedicate yourself to learning from both mistakes and successes, and refining those key lessons—it will show, all on its own. And so when I look back to 2012, 8 years ago when I started to pursue silversmithing as a means of making a living (i.e. making money and paying bills and surviving in expensive CA) I can see where having this network already in place could have helped immensely, but that it was not the total solution to the equation. There is still a key component, the source of the art—the artist— which dictates where his art will take him. What is it that he is selling? Ah ha! He is selling a piece of himself, his attention, his hours of practice, his heritage, his love. Now his craft has Identity. And because of this, it carries more meaning. For me, trusting that the forces will transform the art into what it is supposed to become, something representative of who I have become as a human being… that is an unexpected golden nugget of my journey (so far). The transformation from business minded to artistic minded. And so, I am grateful for the foundations that I was given, both internal and external. The inner transformation comes first, and when this is realized, then those outer forces can become most useful. I think that the lessons take time to build upon themselves and snowball into something worthwhile. There is a natural progression that cannot be bypassed. In my story, I have each foot planted in a different world, one rooted in the resilient worldview of my people, and the other firmly guiding me through my Earthly explorations of foreign cultures, expansive experiences, and in our shared humanity. My jewelry is a representation of these merging perspectives, a blended cocktail of the Old Ways and a hopeful vision of a cooperative future. At the end of the day, the only thing I can do is my best, to live and learn from my experiences, and to share these lessons when I myself have processed them. I hope my realization as given you fresh perspective, for as simple as it is—it is these basic insights that propel us to deeper understandings of what it means to be self-employed.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Today, I offer a broad range of wearable silver art that doubles as jewelry: bracelets, necklaces, rings, buckles, and earrings. I have been creating jewelry for 8 years now. My signature designs feature negative space, strong angles, and bold lines. I am honestly just doing my own thing, following my craft and letting it evolve with each completed piece. I had a “technical breakthrough” in 2018 where I really began to emphasize the technique and finish of my pieces, to the point that I wanted people to question if the work really was handmade. Nowadays, I want my work to shine as though it is machine made—super uniform, with all the attention to detail—and still carry my creative force and energy, which the wearer can then share in their daily interactions. I am alluding to the metaphysical nature of human-made works; if a piece of silver is sculpted with the best of intentions and love, then I believe that piece will carry that positive force. I create spiritual armor for my wearers so that they may feel more empowered, more beautiful, and more at peace with themselves so they can “show up” in their best light.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The great outdoors and sunny weather are the only things I would need to show my BFFs a good time. This includes boogie boards and beaches, maybe near Tourmaline/ North Pacific Beach where there is plenty of space and easy sandbar waves to play in. Then we definitely renting Bird scooters to Oscars Fish Tacos on Turquoise street then cruising the boardwalk until the batteries run out. Grabbing oysters at any of the fine eateries in Little Italy. More beach time, this time at La Jolla Shores. Sampling all the flavors of Ocean Beach Farmers market on a Wednesday afternoon followed by Reggae Night at Winstons. Heated yoga at Modo Yoga in Clairemont, followed by replacing all those calories with meals at High Dive on Morena or going clean and vegetarian at Kindred in South Park. Packing water bottles and a small lunch for a nice short hike at Torrey Pines or spending time disc golfing at Balboa Park… drinks and dinner at The Joint in OB, it all sounds super fine to me. If they’re up for a fun weekend night and the music is right, we’re dressing up and headed to Spin for beats and dancing all night long.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have had my share of mentors and “angels” guiding me on my path, some of whom ask the hard questions and press me with the issues I didn’t yet want to confront, but they were there to help administer the necessary medicine in the name of growth. That person would be my good friend and financial advisor Tom Bennett. He has been an integral part of my growth as an artist, always peppering me with the right questions to ponder and keeping my blind ambition somewhat grounded and on the tracks, especially early on. And he even went as far as to make a few CostCo runs as to make sure a recent college graduate didn’t starve! That generosity and willingness to be of service will be an image I will always carry with me. Tom once told me “you reap what you sow” and now that I am settled as an artist, thoughts begin emerging about extending myself to others as a resource. I know those seedlings will cross my path and I can pay it forward by offering what I can when the moment presents itself. Thank you Tom!!!