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The Art of Observation

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During the lockdown, our industry sat in silence for months unable to work, provide and do what we love — create. I decided to observe.

I believe observation has become a lost art for many because we live in a world of consumption. We consume so often, but when we start observing, it’s a totally different mindset. How often do we watch a 50-second IG curl tutorial, balayage or style, then quickly scroll to the next video? Do we consume the information or do we observe what is happening?

In Roman times, artists like Leonardo da Vinci or Michaelangelo would observe one subject for days, observing it to the point where they understood the way a muscle would contract with the smallest movement, the way a bird would perch on a branch or the way the sun would effect a shadow or glow throughout different parts of the day.

I know we live in a much more fast-paced world, and the thought of sitting in a park staring at one tree for 12 hours a day is unrealistic for most of us. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t take moments to practice the art of observation. Marcus Aurelius states “The observation of nature is part of an artist’s life. It enlarges his form and knowledge, keeps us fresh and from working only by formula, and feeds inspiration.”

By practicing the art of observation through Covid, I felt creatively invigorated and fresh. As we get back to working behind the chair, my main goal is to work beyond formula — a formula that has treated me well and helped my success for many years, but also hindered the expansion of my creative brain and energy.

My challenge to you is no matter how difficult or busy life gets, take time to observe instead of consume. Observe your salon, family, nature, hair, educational videos — whatever gets you excited! There is no right or wrong way.

Matt Swinney
Matt Swinney
Matt Swinney is the co-owner of Evolution Salon in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He also acts as Global Creative Director for L’ANZA.