That’s the question you want people to be asking your guests when they leave your salon. They’re basically walking billboards for your work, and the best possible way to get new clients into your chair. And the best way to do this, according to Redken Global Artistic Director Chris Baran? Get creative–it will make your work stand out.
“An added dramatic piece in the haircut sets your work apart from everyone else,”says Baran, who teaches a Design Master Class at the Redken Exchange on exactly this topic. “Our mission is to show the shape in its progressive form, the same way a designer shows the dramatic version at the haute couture show. From there, the Ready-to-Wear show waters it down. Show the watered down version first and the public doesn't notice the difference and misses the message. The public's perception ends up being blah and ordinary. Our goal is to make the learner's work extraordinary.”
However, as any stylist knows, finding inspiration is often more easily said than done. It becomes all too easy to rely on the same old, same old, and your work starts to repeat itself in a rather un-extraordinary way.
And so, says Baran, it’s important to challenge yourself to be inspired, and take the necessary actions to make that possible. Here, he shares some tips on how to up the creativity in your design game.
Examine The World Around You
It may sound simple, but one of the first and most important things you can do to get those creative juices flowing is to take in the world around you. Get outside, open your mind, and just try to let things in. ”It comes to you as you're driving down the road or in the shower or sitting staring at the ocean,” says Baran. “The idea seems to come out of nowhere. You often, say, AHA! Or, That was brilliant, why didn't I ever think of that before.” Then, you can turn it into a style.
There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from others, especially if you make it your own. “My favorite, and the easiest inspiration, is to copy something you didn’t know how to do,” says Baran. “After that run with it, chop it up, make it different, make it yours.” Simple? Yes. But it works.
Try A Timed Mannequin Cut
If you’re feeling bored, blah, or burnt out, Baran has a helpful go to exercise to get your brain buzzing. Grab a mannequin, and challenge yourself to cut it into a short cut with only a razor, using no combs or clips. “Take a few minutes to breathe and relax, think about nothing or just let your mind wander not focusing on anything—this accesses your quiet mind, aka the creative side,” says Baran. Then, pick up the razor and cut a shape, forcing yourself to complete the cut in 7 minutes. The point in all of this? “It's an exercise in getting your mind out of conventional thoughts and comfort zones. You don't have time to think you only have time to do and be expressive.”
Play The Chop Game
This trick will force your brain to think outside of its usual box, which is great for sparking creativity. Get someone else to cut a big chunk out of hair on a mannequin, and challenge yourself to create a shape out of it within 20 minutes. “You get used to a new paradigm—one where short hair could be in a place where the norm says it shouldn't be,” says Baran, calling this game an “eye opener” that helped make him the stylist he is today.