One of the things I like best about Etsy Team Game Day is that, not only do I get to feature the beautiful creations of one of my team members (the Crafting in Color team or the Queer Etsy Street Team), but I get to spend an hour or more learning more about them, peeking into their shops and their blogs and their facebook pages, and sometimes, finding interesting surprises!
That’s the case with today’s featured shop, Galleria Di Giani, of my Queer Etsy Street Team. John Tozzi, the multi-talented artist behind this shop, makes gorgeous jewelry mostly out of very cool, unique semiprecious gemstones. If words like hematite, labradorite, kyanite, and kashgar garnet set your heart racing, then go immediately to his shop and bask in the natural stone beauty.
John creates jewelry that is versatile and classic—perfect for formal wear and jeans alike. As he writes,
Whether you are wearing your little black dress, your power suit, a t-shirt and jeans, or a tailored blouse and skirt, each piece in my shop will go with many of them.
John is an enthusiastic contributor to the Queer Etsy Street Team. One of his greatest contributions was a recent blog post, “You Just Have To,” on the Team blog. It’s a personal response to the recent rash of suicides among young gay men. He writes,
I am a 45 year old gay man. For those of you not versed enough to do the math and understand, I came out at 22, in the mid 1980’s, when the world was first gripped by the AIDS scare. It was not an easy time to come out. Just hearing the word “gay” made people recoil, afraid they would catch something. It was not an easy time for me. But then again, my teens were no picnic either, for so many reasons.
I was bullied for being smart.
I was bullied for wearing glasses.
I was bullied for being fat.
I was bullied because I was not particularly good at most sports.
I was bullied because I hung out with girls at school most of the time.
He movingly describes the abuse and the rejections of the intervening decades. But John survived, and he has a message to young gays:
Someday, the whole country will allow us to legally marry. It is coming. You just need to stay around to see it.
Someday soon, we will be able to openly serve in the military. You just need to stay around to see it.
And, most importantly, twenty years from now, it will be YOUR turn to pass on your survival stories to the next generation, so that they can know. You just need to stay around to do it.
You just need to stay around.
You just need to.
For a lot of us in the Queer Team, creating art and things of beauty is about more than just skills, and more than just a business. It’s about overcoming years of struggle, abuse, and marginalization. About lives that “don’t make sense”, and insisting on creating beauty out of the chaos. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s not. But it’s always there, in just about everything we make.
And, as it turns out, John has another side of his creativity–photography. He runs another blog, “Shed Your Inhibitions,” which features his gorgeous erotic photography, combined with wonderful musings on the art and the business of photography. He is a truly gifted photographer of the male figure.
I am inspired to read his take on creative inspiration, like these thoughts on the artistic potential of cemeteries:
I have done many photo shoots over the years in cemeteries…. Cemeteries are places with a truly powerful aura. To me, cemeteries are full of life. No, there is no pun intended in that. The collected energy felt in a cemetery is an amazing thing. To be able to combine the life and energy in a cemetery with the powerful nature of a nude human being in a public place can make for strong photos.
I love that he brings his unique aesthetic sense equally to the male body and the female wardrobe. Everybody wins!
Thank you, John, for everything you share with the world.
Find John Tozzi’s work at these places:
At his Shed Your Inhibitions Blog: http://johntozziphotography.blogspot.com/
At his jewelry blog: http://galleriadigiani.blogspot.com/
On facebook: http://facebook.com/galleriadigiani