The first stumbling block to pursuing art again, simply stated was: I already have a career that I love. I have been working as a fashion designer for a number of years now and don't have any immediate plans to change course. In an effort to rekindle my artistic roots, I remembered that it was my skills as an illustrator, not a designer that secured my first job in fashion. This was long before we all had computers. I used to spend hours replicating every printed swatch with gouache and a paintbrush. Nowadays, I just drag and drop a swatch from the original art and it all happens in a matter of minutes. I'm not complaining about the digital revolution, but I do have a few observations about my own process:
Observation number one: I'm a tactile person. I am one of the few designers in my office that still uses a sketchbook and a pencil to formulate design concepts and ideas. Maybe it comes from my training, but I just feel that sketching is fluid, erasers are quick and the sketchbook is not precious. When I develop silhouettes on the computer in flat form, I often lose the momentum. Being a tactile person also means that I design better with the real fabric in hand, which can also mean working a little closer to deadline, to the chagrin of the merchandisers. Fabrics speak to me and tell me what they want to do based on their drape, body and characteristics. I am admittedly old school, as I see my younger colleagues form concepts on paper straight to production all the time.
Observation number two: Computers are
great tools for perfection and sometimes that means perfectly boring! My
hand was trained in school to be aware of the weight of my medium in
forming what we called 'line quality.' In basic terms, it means that the
weight of the line was never the same. It may be super thin in some
areas, heavy in others and maybe not even connect. I realize that programs are getting better at this, as long as the artist employs them. But, I find that graphic and textile artists today are trained for speed in their work, not character. When developing
prints to be translated to fabrics, I prefer to buy vintage art because it usually contains delicious amounts of variation and line quality. Older art was still drawn by hand and feels loose and
organic to me, not mechanical. The motifs were not stamped out for speed, but were carefully and individually crafted. I crave a well crafted line.
Observation number three: In garment design, I work very well with a deadline. Regrettably so, since I sometimes procrastinate deliberately to feel the pressure to perform. Why am I built like this? I have found that many creative people function this way....for better or for worse. In my idealized version of myself, I am able to design in a metered rhythm with less stress producing the same amount of quality product. A girl can dream, right? Luckily for me, producing art from home on my own time will rarely have the same numbers constraints as my day job. There will be no projections, and I will never compare my sales this week with the same week last year. This is not about volume or gross profit margins. This is about quality. Bravo! When it comes to painting portraits, I am going to take my sweet time to get it right. My goal is to align myself with clients who will appreciate this. To quote a line from one of my favorite Italian films (Pane e Tulipani),
"Le cose belle sono lente."
It means 'Beautiful things take time' or more directly translated 'are slow.' That's right! Beautiful things are often made slowly with generous amounts of love and care. Bravissimo! I challenge myself to fight the ever quickening pace of life with choosing the moments when I can keep it slow. You can try it too. wink, wink.
cheers to 'le cose belle'!