Thursday, June 23

Musings: New Beginnings


Last year I got to meet Michelle Lesniak, winner of Project Runway season 11. (Photo of us together with me featuring sad bangs and a fan-girl grin included for proof and story-telling pizzazz.) She's from Portland and had been scheduled to share about her creative process and experiences on the show at the Seaside library the week we happened to be in Oregon on vacation. I jumped at the opportunity to go because she was my favorite from her season.

In fashion design, apparently it's customary for each designer to produce two collections a year. (As of last year, Michelle sticks to one because it fits her life better.) Each collection should be a cohesive unit of individual pieces, but the individual collections can be wildly different from each other. Michelle shared about how she tries to capture a feeling she's experiencing and translate it to something visual and wearable.

In the winter/spring of 2014-2015 I was making bright, whimsical, inspirational watercolor/handlettering/doodle art. It was selling well, but I was staring to get tired of it. I didn't know what to do. Keep making more because it's selling? Try to keep making art in the same style while also trying to experiment with new styles? It all felt unnervingly indistinct and I couldn't see a clear path ahead.

Michelle's presentation came at the perfect time. I realized that as a visual artist, I can have distinct collections similar to a fashion designer. Fashion designers don't just keep making the same items over and over with the same colors and fabrics. They have a clear-cut time to draw the curtain on a body of work and try something new. I can do this too! I can enjoy a particular style until I'm ready to be done, and then I can move onto something new and different. In order to make new beginnings there have to be endings too. Being able to define those endings liberates me to begin fresh adventures.

(In real life finishing a collection--or making any change--and starting a new one is something rather fluid. It's a process, more of a slow fade than a sharp line, but it's still as much about ending as it is about beginning.)