I love working in design. I'm having a lot of fun. And yet, when someone asks me what I do, I laugh, and then I say, "well, I'm a decorator." I say it in an apologetic way. Sheepishly. I don't own it.
This weekend, I was inspired by two creative lives who, I think, are helping me make peace with that.
First, I read the article in Lonny Magazine about Amanda Nisbet, a big designer who came to design almost reluctantly and as a second career. In the magazine, she says "Many of us have a tendency to believe that if a talent or skill comes naturally, it 'doesn't really count.' We believe that if something comes easily, it isn't 'worthy.'"
Guilty. Now, I'm no Amanda Nisbet, but I can take her words to heart and accept that it's okay (in fact, it is a great idea) to make a career of something that you are naturally good at. For me, this applies to the design work I am doing, but also to writing (the blog) and editing (book projects.) The fact that I am somehow building a new career based on not one but two natural talents is not only something to own, it is something to sing from the hilltops. If, you know, I could sing it from the hilltops in an inspired yet humble kind of a way.
Second, I watched the documentary Bill Cunningham New York last night and literally did not stop smiling the whole time. Talk about an inspiration. There are so many lessons to be taken from this film, and I highly recommend it to any creative person. (Check out the trailer below for a taste.)
Bill is 80 years old, and for the past 4 or 5 decades, he has been riding his bicycle all over NYC snapping street fashion by day, and attending dozens of parties taking society photos by night. He works almost literally 24-7, yet he calls it play. He does it because he loves it. In his days as photographer to the original Details magazine, Bill never took a paycheck. I could write another entire post on the notions of "selling out" and the inverse relationship between creativity and money, but for my purposes here, the takeaway is this: I would decorate even without a paycheck. In fact, I have, I do, and I will continue to do so as time allows. I make design boards for fun. I write this blog for fun, and for a sense of community with like-minded others. If I was independently wealthy, I would probably still help people with their homes, for free.
For now, I am so blessed that anyone will pay me to do it.
Next time someone asks me what I do, I will try my best to remember these inspirations, and when I say that I am a decorator, I will own it.
Not bad for a weekend!