Inspiration: For Hair, From Lives

To break up all these “this is what I’ve been up to” posts, I just wanted to take the time to type up something a little more introspective.  Sometimes it feels like one topic keeps popping up or like I keep talking (maybe too much?) about a given issue and I get really pumped about it!  Lately, I have had a TON of educational opportunities which I have taken advantage of from many different lines, including: Sebastian, Nioxin, Sassoon, R+Co and Oribe.  Now for me, classes are not about inspiration, they are about technique.  As I said recently on the Hairbrained forums, I see so many incredible hair pictures everyday from all of my different sources that I am almost immune to their charm.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the imagery and believe it pushes me to get better and better technically, but it doesn’t usually generate a true feeling of inspiration.  At least, it’s pretty rare.

See, I have always had two competing drives within me.  I have always been a sort of creative free spirit on the one hand and then a total nerd on the other hand.  Classes and hair photos mostly appeal to the nerd in me and I am prone to breaking things down into very formulaic and almost mechanical functions.  This is the part of me that takes comfort in order, in things making sense.  I look at a photo and I see where if the hair were one centimeter higher it would change the proportions of the image, how the shapes could maximize their impact.  In classes I am always wondering, “Why?” and “Could this be done in a better, more efficient way?” and “How would a small change in technique change the final outcome?”

But the other side, that is the side that makes me really love my job.  Yet it is the part of me that is easier to ignore, since it is often hard to know what it needs to thrive.  Throughout my travels it has been the people, the architecture, the art, the subway stations, the weather, the trees of every shape and color, the rivers and lakes and harbors.  It is the people I meet who are very nice, and the ones who can be quite nasty, too.  It’s the artsy youth of Toronto that somehow look so much more British than the alternative kids in the US (they seem to have a better sense of balance and aesthetics).  It’s the way people from the UK say “cool” like it means something.  It almost gives me chills.  It’s the way the vibe of the bar changes when the woman in the corner stops screaming at the pinball machine.  Or when a different song comes on.  It’s how when driving for 8 hours straight you feel a difference in the steering wheel from one CD to the next.  It’s how you go so long between showers you see what your hair really looks like.  It’s seeing a four year old tumbling in the grass near Boston Harbor, trying to compete with the street performers.  It’s stopping at rest stops in Central PA in black denim and black leather and black shades while everyone else is wearing sweatshirts from wherever they came from.  It’s going to shows and seeing the swing of the hair while everyone is dancing in their own little worlds. It’s those friends you have who always twist the same section of hair around a finger when they’re nervous.   It’s seeing a friend in the hospital and her hair is  cascading so perfectly it’s hard to remember she’s so sick.

Before Hair: The Makings of a Texture Engineer

Before hair, I can’t think of any one thing I have ever been so focused on.  Well, with one exception.  The summer after my sophomore year of college I was awarded a Brackenridge grant from the University of Pittsburgh to create my own art installation.  So basically, I was a professional artist for three months.  I often say that this project was the most fulfilling of my life, but the mental and physical fatigue is not something to be looked over.  By the end of that summer, I was certain, beyond doubt, that I wanted to be a hair stylist.  I knew I wanted to do something visual and creative, but that I wasn’t strong enough for anything that involved long hours being alone with my art.  Richard would pick me up at the studio every day after 8-10 hour shifts and I would not want to leave, despite being hungry and dirty and barely being able to string a sentence together.  It’s hard to explain, because I loved it, I really did, it just couldn’t have been sustainable.  I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing the intricate bark textures I’d been creating all day (like when you play Tetris too much).

I keep so busy with hair that sometimes I stop seeing new things.  That’s when I look back to my other loves for inspiration.  Sculpture.  Found art.  Poetry.  Short fiction.  Music.  I wanted to share some of my old pieces from that summer.  Mainly made from duct tape, newspaper and stuff from the hardware store.  It was a sexual assault advocacy piece intertwining my love for writing, shapes and textures.  It took about 2 1/2 months to complete and then showed for a couple weeks at the William Pitt Union on campus.  Enjoy!


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