Travis Walker has been crafting unique jewelry and leather designs since the mid 1980’s. He was born and raised in Malibu, California, where he still resides today with his wife, Brittany. As a young man Travis was always drawing, carving and creating new designs.
Coming from humble means Travis looked to his creativity to define himself. His pieces can be found on friends, locals, and the searchers who find his work compelling enough to seek him out. He has made custom motorcycle seats for some of the top bike builders, and continues to create custom pieces for special clients and celebrities.
In 1996, Travis released his first line marking the beginning of Double Cross Jewelry. Since then his popularity has grown overseas and he has maintained an underground and exclusive clientele in the US. He maintains that Double Cross Jewelry is more than an image, it’s a lifestyle…
Q: Tell me about the name Double Cross. I know you are reputed to have named it after the two-sided cross-pin, which was the first piece of jewelry that you created, but do you have any more details?
A: It’s a kind of play on words, like something that you double cross. But yes, basically I named it after my first piece, which was the two-sided cross; I rolled with the name, and it stuck.
Q: What about the first pendant you made? Do you still have it?
A: I don’t actually wear the first pendant I made, but I do have all the first pieces and products that I made. I usually go through three stages with the stuff I make…I test it out to see whether it’s wearable, then I wear it for a while, get tired of it, and move on to another piece.
Q: What’s the difference in your creative process when designing jewelry versus leather?
A: Well, as far as carving jewelry goes, it’s more three-dimensional than two-dimensional, so I get to actually pull design out in the wax and jewelry, as opposed to the leatherwear. I do overlays, appliquÇs, and graphic work on the leather products. They are two totally different fields, and it’s all kind of wrapped into one, because I do use the jewelry to accent the leather as far as tags and folds and ruffles and all that stuff too, so it kind of all works together.
Q: You’ve referred to double cross as being more than jewelry, but also as a lifestyle. Can you describe that lifestyle?
A: With the leather pieces, the fashion has more of a hardcore feel and vibe that works with the jewelry. I wear it and enjoy it, but as far as the lifestyle of my company – the jewelry, the fashion, the motorcycles and the hotrods – we embody that kind of vibe.
Q: I guess you’re making a lot of custom pieces as well?
A: We are, and we also try to do limited runs. A lot of our pieces are engraved, so you get a sense of authenticity. We can always engrave or integrate things into our items. I’ve set special gold pieces or charms into the jewelry so it makes it a one-off piece that still fits with the rest of my collection. As far as cutting some pieces custom, I need a year, because we’re running a (larger) company now, and we’re also doing other products in terms of leather and clothing, so that has limited my capabilities when it comes to producing multiple one-of-a-kind pieces.
Q: I wanted to ask you about the clothing line. What have you got planned that we haven’t seen yet?
A: Yeah, as far as clothing goes I really do work in spurts. If I’m motivated by a particular item, I’ll work on it for awhile. Then I might lose interest, so I shift gears to do different things. It can be motorcycle parts or artwork, or t-shirts. For the clothing, I like to say that I’ve lent my name to a company that produces women’s and men’s clothing. It went really well, and then it kind of stopped, and I focused on different things. I’m not really a clothing designer necessarily – I’m an artist. I make clothes that I feel comfortable with, and I’ve enjoyed doing the leather and jewelry. Fashion disguises art and design as clothing.
Q: What’s it like designing for women versus men?
A: I don’t know, when designing pieces for women, you have to listen a little more to what they want than men. But I design for either gender, and I enjoy working with any one of my clients, pretty much.
Q: What pieces does your wife wear?
A: My wife wears multiple designers as well as my own, but I’ve created everything especially for her, right down to wedding bands, which you know we made…I made. And she wears my clothing, but she also wears other designers as well.
Q: What inspires you in terms of music, trends, subculture…for example; you’re an avid water sports person…
A: I’m pretty much outdoorsy, I like fishing, hiking, and surfing. I’m also interested in music – all types of music – but I enjoy more of the old-school punk rock, because I grew up with it, as opposed to the classic rock or reggae. I’m not a major hip hop fan, but there are definitely some rap groups I like. There are a couple local bands I listen to, and I enjoy most of them, and I keep myself open-minded.
Q: Tell me a story about a challenge you’ve overcome, personal or career?
A: When I started working, before I actually had my company, I worked as a leather goods vendor, and in the evening I couldn’t make my own stuff because I had multiple jobs. I borrowed three hundred bucks to buy a seven-hundred dollar car… I’ve been out of the house pretty much since I was fifteen. Just with the shoes on my feet, as I think the saying goes. Growing up, jonesing in Malibu – especially because I come from the trade side of Malibu, where our family were mainly tradesmen… growing up in Malibu with kids getting Mercedes or Range Rovers for their sixteenth birthdays…I didn’t have that opportunity. As far as financial challenges, it’s a hard thing – but if you work hard, you get rewarded, and I’ve been working since I was fifteen, steadily. So I’ve always made sacrifices for the things I loved. Like surfing every day suddenly became working every day.
Q: How many years did it take you before you could give up the side jobs?
A: Basically, when I hit 20, things started to turn around. I started my company in 1996, when the jewelry phenomenon in Japan started to take over. I started to do designs and logos. Japanese clients would come over here and buy jewelry. I only had a few pieces in my line at the time. One of the first things I did was go to the car dealer and buy myself a car, because the one thing I wanted in my life was a big truck. And I thought, "Even if I don’t get any more orders, I’ll have the truck, and I can live in it."
That was when it all fell into place. It takes a lot of time to get noticed, and it takes at least ten years to stick. When it comes to a career, there are people that have instant success overnight, people that make big money, and then you don’t hear about them in two years. I’ve been in three hundred magazines, at least, and had success in Japan and other places overseas. As far as longevity, we’ve been around a long time. But I started out underground, without anyone to organize financials …I just lived paycheck to paycheck in the beginning. But now this is a company – a corporation – so I guess you could say I’m a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen.
Q: Fans of your designs run the gamut from very glamorous celebrity types to the biker types. Why do you think that your jewelry appeals to such a wide-range of people that have a seemingly incompatible style?
A: To be honest with you, I don’t know. I just think that the hardcore pieces we do have a quality and a unique style to them, so they appeal to a broad spectrum of people. People who have that inner hardcore side…I don’t want to say dark side…but you know, I have some high-powered attorneys that would never wear a skull to corporate events that still have a button piece, and they haven’t taken it off since they bought it. We have a lot of high-end jewelry, and I don’t only work in silver, I also work in gold. Some of the pieces with diamonds and things are definitely more elegant, and any woman would love to wear them. I think you have to see our stuff to really appreciate it.
Q: Who are some of your favorite people that you’ve worked with so far, and on which projects?
A: As far as clients go? I don’t really like to name drop. All of our clients have just been stellar to work with. I cannot complain about working with any of them – especially within the industry…Tommy Lee is a great guy. One of my favorite wrestling fans was Steve Austin, who is a client – and he’s definitely a great guy. A lot of these people have an inner side that you don’t just see on the screen, and they are pretty much genuine. As far as giving people what they want, it seems that I’ve always been able to succeed.
Q: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far, and what do you hope to accomplish still?
A: Definitely surviving the hustle and bustle of what’s going on these days, and my biggest accomplishment would have to be that my wife is eight months pregnant, so you know, bringing a kid into the world is a big one.
Q: Oh, the first kid! That’s exciting!
A: Yeah, it’s a life-changing experience. But I think making a career and having a good reputation in the industry with some of my friends and peers and coworkers is also something to be proud of.
Q: Who are your favorite visual artists?
A: I have a slew of favorite artists…. Mark Ryden is one of them, I definitely enjoy his work, but there are many… anyone in the arts, even people that play the guitar, or at least try to. Anyone who can play an instrument is, to me, one step above the norm. I appreciate anyone that has some sort of specific talent. So it’s really hard to choose my favorites. Even bike builders; there are Billy Lane, Jesse James, and Indian Larry, people that still make amazing pieces of art, as far as motorcycles go.
Q: How many hours a week do you spend creating?
A: It’s hard for me to count… I’m constantly on the go. As far as coming up with the next great thing, now that I have a company, everything is a lot more challenging, in terms of competition. There are people out there that are doing really good, so you’ve got to keep busy. I probably work about fifty hours a week.
Q: Do you have to spend a lot of time dealing with the business end, or do you mostly focus on design?
A: Nowadays, it seems like a fifty-fifty split. I think I’m more of an artist and a creator. It’s all about delegating, but it’s hard when you have your own vision of it, and you spend a lot more time on certain things than you probably should.
Q: What role do you think jewelry should play in an outfit? Should it be a bold statement or a subtle highlight?
A: I leave it to people’s preferences. I think our stuff can easily stand alone, or it can be part of something… it really depends on the size. It’s pretty much an individual thing. I wear 1-3 rings, and I do wear a wallet chain, and if I’m going out I might wear a bracelet or necklace. I’ll dress myself up and I’ll wear a leather jacket or a vest or something, if it’s evening or if I’m riding. I keep myself pretty low-key, but I do wear key-pieces.
Q: Is there anything you want to tell me about what’s next?
A: We’re constantly on the move. You never know what we’re going to do next. So, I’ll kind of leave it for people to wonder, but I think you’ve got a pretty good idea of who we are.
Rich Luzzi, lead singer, and Julien Jorgensen, guitarist from the band Rev Theory (Interscope records) wearing Double Cross.
Photos courtesy of Double Cross and Dana Glazer. Travis Walker’s website is www.doublecrossjewelry.com.