I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I went through the many rooms of paintings, enjoying the different painting styles and techniques. Some I liked a lot, some I didn’t care much for, some I didn’t understand.
But there they all were, in The Met. No one would argue that getting your work into the top museum in the U.S. sets you into a very esteemed category. It really didn’t matter what my opinion was of the paintings that I didn’t care for, or what I thought of their brushstroke technique. Someone liked it enough to put that work in the museum.
And that’s what mattered.
I would never declare, to anyone within earshot at The Met, that Realism and acrylic paint are the only way to create a masterpiece. Or that Impressionism is so over, and completely old fashioned. It’s art, it’s beautiful, and millions of people appreciate it.
I believe that it’s the same with the techniques we use in the salon to achieve the desire of our clients. The debate goes on about whether cutting hair dry is better than cutting it wet. Or if the volume round brush blowout is so over. Or if freehand hair painting is better than a foil highlight. My opinion, and I do have one, is that it all depends on what technique helps to achieve the final result that the client will love. It’s important that the hairstylist uses every technique and tool in their toolbox to make it happen.
I personally cut hair wet as well as dry. Sometimes I start the cut dry, wash it, cut the precision lines wet, dry and style it then refine it dry. Sometimes I cut my base lines and take off more length when it’s wet then cut in my layers and refine when it’s dry. Sometimes I cut dry from start to finish. I don’t have rules. Saying that there is only one way to do something is setting up rules. We are artists. We break rules once we understand them.
Artists develop a style once they have experience. Picasso wasn’t much for Realism. Andy Warhol’s work wasn’t representative of Impressionism. Some hairstylists are specialists at long hair, and they develop a reputation for doing ‘Victoria’s Secret Runway’ hair. Clients still ask for this, and they love it. It’s been around for years, and I wouldn’t tell a client I wouldn’t give them that style because it’s an older technique. I call that a classic. Some hairstylists have developed mad skills for pixies and other short haircuts, some specialize in men’s cuts. We have our niche and we fill it with clients who are looking for that specialty.
But it is also important for hairstylists to continue to educate themselves on what is new, so they are ready for the client who wants the ‘Lived In’ style, or the Modern Shag, or an Inverted Bob.
There’s nothing wrong with knowing and understanding multiple techniques and finding proficiency in just a few. There will always be clients who want what you can do the way you can do it.
Atelier founder and Master Artist, kickin’ all styles since 1981.