By Aaron Ramson
There are terms that we are familiar with in knowing they convey a sense of quality; small-batch is one of them, hand-crafted is another. The word boutique brings to mind a sense of attention and detail, and the word independent is an umbrella that shelters all of the other terms to do with artisanship. Independent craft beer perfectly captures the concept of artisanship, ideals found in many other forms of expression, all of them the combination of skill and imagination. Skill and imagination are used to create music, painting, cooking, style; all art forms that exist in a synergy with one another. The way you’ll enter a small craft brewery and hear music piped into the taproom, song is just as frequently used to create a mood in hair salons not just for the client, but for the stylist as well.
Velia Dance is a licensed Cosmetologist, Cosmetology Instructor, and Salon Owner with 20 years of experience in the beauty industry. We sat with a growler of Brewcaipa Brewing Company’s “Snoop POG”, a passion fruit, orange and guava juice infused wheat beer, and discussed the synergy of craft. Over beer, we talked about creating through original ideas and trends, inspiration and motivation, and the parallels between music and style.
What is art? How is art different from craft?
Such a great question! Art is an open-ended form of emotional expression with endless room for interpretation. It doesn’t REQUIRE skill or training. Craft is a form of working with your hands to create a tangible output. Craft requires precision, knowledge, skill, talent, planning, and artistic ability. For example, I can hot glue 10 popsicle sticks together in the shape of a very sad looking birdhouse and call it “Art.” However, if I was building a structure fitting the requirements of a functional birdhouse, I would need architectural knowledge and carpentry skills in order to actualize this Craft.
What thing you’ve created are you most proud of? How important is passion in what you do?
In most recent years, I built, from the ground up, the first mobile salon using a San Francisco- style Trolley. My passion is to educate the next generation of stylists in order to elevate our ever-evolving industry. What I do is important because my experiences and knowledge in this business can minimize the learning curve for budding entrepreneurs.
Is what you do an art or a craft?
Both, but if I have to pick one… definitely CRAFT! I know some stylists who wear the word “artist” like a badge of honor are going to be offended, but let me explain; What we do requires skill, precision, education, geometry, chemistry, symmetry, and a massive amount of planning before we can execute. While we like to refer to ourselves as “artists,” which is not a lie, we cannot possibly perform our job without expansive knowledge in our Craft.
Relate what you do to music, what is musical about it?
Oh My God, soooo many similarities! My musical background consists of playing the piano as a child and singing and dancing throughout my entire life. I can relate EVERYTHING a Cosmetologist does to either dancing or playing an instrument. When styling hair, we use terms like rhythm, flow, balance, harmony, and symmetry to describe the pattern of a curl or the structuring of an updo, for example. If we don’t perceive harmony and balance in hair color, we won’t be able to accomplish our desired result, much like a choir or band can’t achieve their desired sound without the presence of these two important components. When my students pick up a pair of shears or a marcel curling iron for the first time and try to convince me that there’s NO WAY they’re ever going to be able to use these things properly, I always relate it to use of finger dexterity in guitar playing… which I have yet to master.
You are as equally pragmatic as you are creative, and what you do blends science with expression. What is our world like without one of the other?
So many stylists are either VERY left-brained (pragmatic) or VERY right-brained (creative). I don’t need a Buzzfeed quiz to tell me that I am right smack in the center of these two. I’m center-brained- and you know how I know that? Because I just created the term “center-brained” and it makes perfect sense! Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is about balance! The blending of Science and expression is no different. As a Cosmetology Instructor, I teach chapters on Infection Control, Communicable Diseases, Anatomy, Chemistry, Electricity…ALL the Science. When my client sits in my chair and shows me her inspo picture of a platinum blonde and she is currently a redhead, I have to approach this challenge with equal parts creativity and pragmatism and I damn well better know my Chemistry.