When it comes to travel, there really aren’t many countries that Justine Brooks has not visited. Taking nearly a year off to travel and discovering a love for jewelry making on the way, we talk to this exciting and passionate designer about her love for all things raw.
Hello. Can you please tell us a bit more about yourself?
My parents are British but I was born in a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and lived there until I was 18. I was privileged enough to have a father that worked for the Airlines, which gave me the golden ticket to fulfill my curious and passionate soul.
My first solo trip was at age 16 When I spent the summer in England; after finishing high school at age 18, I spent the year in Australia working my way around. I then moved to various cities in Canada for Art school. The mountains, rain forests, and ocean make Vancouver feel like “home” for me every time I get off the plane. Each year I try to make room for two months of travel to get inspired and collect new materials.
You have said that your focus on metal technique, stones and design is influenced by your nine-month travels. Why did you decide to embark on this trip?
I had graduated art school major in ceramics and realized I had a strong conceptual background, but I wanted to broaden my knowledge of different jewelry techniques and design concepts from other cultures. I was also eager to explore every nook and cranny of the world, as it makes me feel alive. I can’t imagine a better afternoon than wandering through a crowded Egyptian bazaar exploring endless isles of precious gems. I chose to visit countries that were known for having rich cultural art backgrounds. I was in search of inspiration from textiles, pottery, and architecture, fashion and jewelry.
Can you tell us more about this trip?
I started my trip in Istanbul, Turkey. I had no set itinerary or timeline, but lots of passion. I felt Turkey was an excellent place to start my trip as I had heard so much about the famous Grand Bazaar. I wanted to see where East met West and the path that many precious jewels had once taken along the Silk Road. I spent several weeks travelling through Turkey and met some amazing people that helped me plan my next few steps of my journey. I then travelled to Greece, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa.
In South Africa I visited several museums, in which I learned more about the gold and diamond industry in Africa. From Johannesburg, I flew to Dubai where I was in shock from the contrast of life in Africa. I wandered the famous Gold Souq and admired the emerald and diamond studded iPhone cases that seemed surreal.