Holding patterns. At times, nothing can be more frustrating. Exciting. Boring. Irritating. Combating that feeling of complacency, counter productivity and not being proactive. Anticipation. Give-it-up-it's-out-of-your-control process. Teetering on the unknown. Step-back-and-let-the-Universe-work-its-magic. And...are we there yet?
As many of you might know, I am in the final stages of the design process before my work fully goes into production. It is my first 'big girl' collection which I have been pushing to the next level. Printed by the professionals, designed by me.
I have dreamed of reaching this stage for a long time. It was just over a year ago when I was serendipitously sent a link to an incredible mill located right here in the US. One of the last, if not only mills still practicing the old school, screen printing process I had been doing in my studio for the past couple of years. And they printed yardage! It was a doable and most welcomed option as I was exhausted, over worked, burnt out and wondering how the hell I was going to do it ALL? So the idea of holding the first strike offs in my hot little hands was like reaching finding the Holy Grail. A rite of passage. That moment of having 'arrived'. At the very least...a big sigh of relief.
Interestingly, it didn't really go down like that. But back to that in a minute.
So, what is a 'strike-off' anyway'? It is a test length of fabric (about two yards) that gives the designer and mill the last minute chance to correct what is and isn't working with the design, fabric, colour and print. They are the pre-production samples created, prior to production in larger quantities. The dress rehearsal before the big show. And, drawing from my experiences backstage on Broadway, dress rehearsals rarely, if ever, go smoothly. They are not expected to. That is their purpose. They are merely rough drafts of the hopeful outcome, a lot of unknowns despite what you do know. However, they are absolutely necessary. That may sound horribly dismal which I do not intend, but it is quite simply the nature of the creative business. Any of them. It has glorious moments, but it is not glamorous. It can fill your heart but is not for the faint of heart. You may give up a lot to do it, but it is not for those who give up easily. It is hard work. The show must go on, solutions to problems must be found. An acceptable outcome must be reached. It is a never ending process. Ever. But it is what we do and most of us can't imagine doing anything else.
When I returned home from town last week, there was a package from the mill placed against the studio door. Immediately I knew what it was, but wasn't elated with the joy I expected once these strike-offs graced my studio. Instead, I turned in the direction of the house, unloaded the car, checked the mail, fed the cats and a number of other mindless chores till I pointed myself in the direction of the studio again. With great conscious effort over the next 48 hours, I broke reviewing and assessing these strike offs down into stages, processing them in parts. I knew exactly what I was facing. I wasn't afraid of failure (had many of those). Nor of success (welcoming it in abundance!). Nor of taking things to the next level (it has been a slow and gradual incline and it is about bloody time!). However, strike-offs are a new part of the process (for me) and a lot of big decisions and adjustments are determined here before rolling into production and going 'pro'. I do not ever expect perfection (how boring would that be?) but like a parent guiding their young child...you want your creations to be the best that you can help them be. You don't always have the answers. But with patience and persistence, (and keeping your urge to freak out at bay) the solutions usually come. And they have.
As for the 'you have arrived' part? I am learning each day that this journey is less like taking a train and 'arriving', and more like sailing a boat. Trains roughly go from point A to B in a relatively straight line. A sail boat on the other hand, is a constant navigation of exterior conditions, adjusting your sails to the situation, direction and intention. That said...it IS nice to finally see your logo professionally printed on the selvage (edge) of a bolt of fabric. Yeah. That is pretty darn groovy. For better or worse, I have now been given permission to 'own' it. But have I arrived? Nah. I've got a lot of seas to sail and territory to cover. But maybe when my designs spread across the glossy pages of Architectural Digest and ELLE Decor....? Maybe..... just maybe....then, I will have arrived! ;)
Here's to the next mile stone! (and the next set of strike-offs!) Jump in on the conversation in the comment block below. Would love to hear from you and your ideas of 'having arrived'! xx