interview: jewelry designer camille peace, infusing art with heritage & values

May 18, 2011

I’m a self-professed jewelry junkie; been one since I popped out my mom’s womb. She’s always had an endless collection of cowry shell necklaces, beaded earrings, and wooden bracelets stashed in her bedroom. A pile of adornment wasn’t ever far behind from her favorite tie-dye wrap skirt or African-style sandals. Not to mention, the moment I was born a delicate 14k gold initial was placed around my neck in commemoration of my existence. There must’ve been magical powers in that pendant.
Jewelry itself plays a significant role in many cultures around the world including music-based subcultures. A hippie was never without his/her turquoise necklaces, punks keep their spiked chokers close, and hard rock loving bikers have a handful of hefty sterling silver rings on each finger. Through this means of decoration one may be able to identify or get some sort of idea as to who a person is and where their interests lie.

Words by Amber Alexander

Nearly twenty-two years into my life, I am an obsessive collector of everything that glitters. Don’t get it confused with boring ass conservative gems from Zales though. Give me studs, shiny animal skulls, or anything off kilter that reflects my weird, eclectic taste. One of my favorite places to hunt for unconventional accessories is indie marketplace Etsy. It is there I stumbled upon Peace Images, an Afrocentric themed jewelry line based out of California. Designer Camille Peace creates beautiful handmade pieces for the rebel girls of color who choose to wear their ancestral heritage with pride. Here, Camille dishes the inspiration behind Peace Images and what Afro-punk means to her.

A. Alexander: Everyone has a particular person in mind when they are creating. What kind of individual do you have in mind when you’re designing?
Camille Peace: I’d have to say the person I most visualize is Erykah Badu. She inspires me not only for her frequent use of the ankh symbol, but her ability to so freely express her style through music, fashion and hair.

When did you realize that making jewelry was your calling?
I didn’t realize it until I’d been immersed in the creating process for about a year; When I saw how easily I was able to create, and how it affected others when they wore it 🙂

What matters to you the most as a designer?
What matters most is that my creations are aligned with my visions and my values.

How long does it usually take for you to make one piece?
It varies. Some items take 10-20 minutes (charm necklaces), others can take months from visualization to completion.

What inspires Peace Images?
I’m inspired by my cultural legacy, and what it means to be Black in this world; songs, fabrics, and individuals also inspire me. I try my hardest to remain open because inspiration can visit anytime.

I notice that your work is based around an Afrocentric theme. What message are you trying to portray through your pieces?
My message is simple. Remember the rich legacy our ancestors have left for us, and honor it in all we do!

What is your most popular item?
My most popular items are anything brass Africa related; like my “Yeyo” earrings, or my “On Wax” rings.

How do you set the mood for creating new designs; what is the brainstorming process like for you?
It’s not really something I actively do. I simply live my life, surround myself with inspiring things that will serve as catalysts, and allow the vision to visit me when they will 🙂 It’s all very natural, and no designs ever feel forced.

Since this is Afro-punk I have to ask, what do you enjoy listening to?
I’ll listen to anything that raises my vibratory frequency and makes me smile. Currently vibin’ out to Nneka, Still Dreamin’ vol. 7 by Trackstar the DJ, The Doors, Big KRIT, Jigmastas and Jaspects.

What comes to mind when you think of the term Afro-punk?
Having the courage to be who and what you are.

Do you think minorities limit themselves when it comes to self-expression?
I don’t think we limit ourselves anymore than anyone else does. We’ve all felt pressure at some point to conform to what society deems “normal.”

How do you feel Afro-punk can change that?
Afro-punk gives a voice to those who do not necessarily identify with the status quo. And that’s exactly the support one needs when they make the decision to live for themselves instead of for others.

Where can we cop Peace Images?
Main boutique:

– In Los Angeles: IVogue Boutique (, 8 Limbs Boutique (
– In Oakland: Green Boutique (
– In St. Louis: GYA (, Vintage Vinyl (