Inspiration for the work that my clients commission on a daily basis doesn't just come from hair magazines and fashion blogs. It comes from a hike in the woods; live music; city architecture; or a gallery of installations like "Wonder," on exhibit at the Renwick.
Every artist has to decide what sort of beauty he or she wants to create. For my part, there has to be an element of surprise. Profound beauty creeps up on us; it doesn't yell in our face (the latter, all high contrast and harsh lines, is the "hairdresser-y hair" we pros love to hate). Beauty feels organic, like it grew out of the environment in which we found it (whether or not it took four hours and four liters of developer to bring it to life). Beauty has a lot to do with flourishing amidst the uncertainty and inconsistency of life.
I take a couple of high-intensity technique classes every year, and that keeps me reasonably disciplined. More curiosity is sparked, however, in questioning my overall approach to design and exploring art and business ideas beyond my own industry. When a woman tells me the pixie I gave her is the best cut she's ever had, she probably isn't impressed with the way I hold my shears, the exact angle at which I point cut, or how neat my sectioning looks. These are things hairdressers care about to keep themselves organized, and also to impress other hairdressers. Becoming remarkable to the people you serve has to do with how you hear someone's desires and how you work with - not against - the canvas of their natural hair. The twining stick huts in Patrick's Dougherty's Shindig are a perfect analogy to how I work with whorls and wave patterns in executing a haircut:
Each structure is unique, an improvised response to its surroundings, as reliant on the materials at hand as the artist’s wishes: the branches tell him which way they want to bend. This give and take lends vitality to Dougherty’s work, so that walls and spires are a record of gestures and wills.
"A record of gestures and wills." Beauty has this job to do. The best hairstylists use beauty to send messages. Since our canvas is a human being, our work is about discerning and projecting her through her ideal image. That image is a beacon to the world that tells others how to address her and take her in. The most important thing I have to know about everyone who sits in my chair is this: what is your most important message, and what is your life about? Because I want it to show.