My recent post, “Finding a Voice”, seemed to be a topic of interest based on the response I received over various media. It is both encouraging and delightful to have good feedback and thoughtful comments, thank you everyone!
One of the more interesting comments was through LinkedIn, from Dan Christie…
”Nice article Gary. It is difficult as a custom designer, as you are always finding someone else’s voice. The plus side is, it makes you very well versed in many styles.”
I wholeheartedly agree with Dan’s last statement. In my view, constantly working within or toward someone else’s expectations by doing custom work tends to broaden my horizon rather than limit it. Here’s how I put it to a current client in an email in response to his concern, “Are you tired of us yet?”
“Au contraire! I’m enjoying working with you a lot!!
I know that a lot of creative people only want to do their “own” thing but for some reason I find it very exciting to work with people to help them realize “their” vision while maintaining my standards of aesthetic and integrity. I find that it helps me to grow in ways that I might not discover on my own and somehow that is very satisfying to me. And a very huge advantage of that is that for me is that I can then apply what I’ve learned on an occasional vision of my own.”
And I think Dan’s first comment brings up a good topic for further discussion. I’m pretty sure I know what Dan means here, and I think mostly I would agree with the sense of what he’s saying. When you do custom work, you are indeed realizing your client’s vision and working within parameters that they define. But are you really finding your client’s voice when you are doing custom work? I think maybe not, at least in the sense with which I use the term “Voice”. Let me try to find an analogy for a more clear understanding of my use of “Voice”.
Amy Winehouse, a tragic loss no matter how you feel about her untimely death, covered a song by the Shirelles, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. Check out both versions…(Shirelles here, Amy’s version here.) This is obviously the same song but I think an argument could be made that the “Voice” is entirely different in the two versions.
One of my favorite all-time poems is by Rudyard Kipling, called “If” I have read, and reread that poem as it hangs on my office wall, inspiring me in times of struggle, and helping me to remember humility in times of triumph with his line, “And treat those two imposters just the same.” When I first heard that Joni Mitchell did a musical version of that poem on her album, Shine, I was apprehensive to hear it. But her voice, and her more gender neutral spin on some of the lyrics, are a delight and in this case, her “Voice” seems to do nothing but enhance the message of that wise poem.
And so it goes with custom jewelry design. Several jewelry artists could approach the same materials and concept and applying their unique “Voice” would no doubt render quite unique results. My point in bringing this into a discussion about CAD is that it may be more difficult to find a voice within that medium than, say, carving wax since one has to break out of the “computer mind” within the parameters of the design application to actually find their voice!
I would love to hear more about what you all think about this. Please don’t hesitate to reply or respond, wherever you see this post, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to further discussion!