In a traditionally un-masculine industry, Josh Warner is a man’s man, creating motor oil-coated, leather jacket–wearing, metal spike-sporting jewelry. That’s right, jewelry. In an unassuming warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, he operates his factory and headquarters of his company, GOOD ART HLYWD. For several years now, Warner has been re-imagining how men approach jewelry and accessories. Though he in no way takes exception to calling his work” jewelry”, he does clarify, “it’s not the good jewelry company – it’s the good art company.” And works of art, he produces.
The motto of GOOD ART HLYWD is “Genuine American Luxury”, and it is these three things that most accurately describe the company and its work. When Warner speaks of his work being genuine, he is interested in the honesty of the materials, the simplicity of the manufacturing process, and the fact that he only designs pieces he thinks are “bitchin’”. He brags that his is an American company, not in a “Buy American!” way, but more as a tribute to American ingenuity and earnestness. Warner, justly, sees his work as a tribute to and continuation of Americana. Finally, “Luxury” describes his “do it right or not at all” mentality as his small group of highly skilled workers will literally pour days into a single piece of jewelry until it is up to the standards of GOOD ART HLYWD.
The scope of the work is incredible and expanding – from rings and bracelets to key-chains and lighter cases- and every piece has been painstakingly designed and redesigned by Warner. In his work there is always a tentative balance between delicate ornament and heavy, brute forms. His pieces display innumerable takes on themes such as skulls, rosettes, Celtic and Germanic patterns, and Spanish crosses; they are all equally beautiful and intimidating at the same time. If Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger wore necklaces and rings, Josh Warner would be the man making them – which in fact, they do, and he does. While his list of celebrity patrons is long and impressive, it is his dedication to his craft and the earnestness in which he attacks it that is most notable.
GOOD ART HLYWD is definitely a brand that defines and promotes a certain style, a style that Warner says comes directly from things he is interested in. “My tastes run to mechanical things, engines, motorcycles, bourbon, cigars, corduroy, and denim. I like things that are earnest and easy to understand. I’m pretty sure that things like skulls and crosses are never going to go out of style; I’m just glad I love them”
While one’s first reaction might be to shirk at the idea of wearing a big skull ring, you will undoubtedly think twice after learning of the insane process of molding, forging, extracting, and refining said ring. Using technology that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years, Warner uses countless “violent little hand tools” and post-apocalyptic looking ovens to create his pieces. The factory is like a mad scientist’s laboratory – only this mad scientist rides a Harley and brutalizes metal into art for a living. Littered all around the shop are sketches and mock pieces of designs, patterns, and mechanisms. GOOD ART HLYWD has also become recognized for their technologically innovative and seamlessly integrated clasps. “Traditionally the clasp was always something everybody put up with…why not show it off? This is the part you get to touch most- I say it should be the coolest part of the piece”, says Warner. This fascination for the feel of the jewelry is evident as Warner tours around his factory, encouraging visitors to try on and hold as many pieces as possible.
Long have men been relegated to their watches, simple rings, and the rare cuff-links as their only allowed form of accessorizing. At GOOD ART HLYWD, you can still get cuff-links, but they will be in the form of a demonic skull with ruby eyes. (If your sharp business skills aren’t enough to seal the deal in that next client meeting, then surely the intimidation factor that comes with these cuff-links should handle it). It appears to be a mission of the company, to expand its reach into realms of jewelry that men were never allowed to venture before. As Warner says, “The preconceived notions of jewelry are such that its gender specific. It’s a little weird if you’re a guy that likes jewelry but not a watch? That never made much sense to me.”
When asked about the challenge of designing jewelry for men and attracting men to wearing jewelry, Warner points to one of his three motorcycles in the corner and says ”that right there…that’s a man’s toy, that’s a man’s realm”. He then picks up his Model 10 Bracelet, a large chain with a heavy duty, rosette stamped clasp and says, “Now that’s not your grandma’s bracelet. I don’t care what you want to call it, that’s just great”. He goes on to say that he doesn’t care what his craft or his pieces are called, “There’s not a lot of need for significance when something is inherently and intrinsically f**king rad. If it rules and it’s cool, it doesn’t need a name to make it f**king cool.”
Social conventions may continue to dissuade some guys from wearing jewelry, no matter how testosterone fueled the designs are. Regardless, as men come to terms with their ability or inability to wear jewelry and accessories, rest assured; Josh Warner and companies like GOOD ART HLYWD will continue to be there, creating “Genuine American Luxury”.