Happy New Year everybody!
It is said you’re more likely to commit to resolutions if you make them known publicly. Ouch, who wants commitment? Don’t we all secretly prefer the option of backpeddling the following year once you review the previous year’s commitments and find you’ve made zero progress -or is it just me? Maybe so but I think I’m ready for some changes, enough to admit it although not happily. My redux of changes for 2008 are technology and re-entrenchment.
There’s been some dramatic changes in the industry over the past ten years since I wrote my book. While consumption of goods has boomed, at what price? Sustainability aside, it seems design has become closer to styling than innovation. Skill levels have dropped, producing a line of tee shirts is what passes for fashion design these days. I used to decry cake-mix pattern making but design hasn’t done any better. So, what’s to become of old fogies like me? I’ve decided to re-entrench, via technology. I will be moving back towards my roots to what makes me happiest, namely pattern making. Truth is, I only started writing as an adjunct to pattern making to educate my customers and ten years later, it’s taken over my life. Writing is never what I intended or wanted to do. Writing was an end towards better educated customers.
So, 2008 will be the year in which I finally learn CAD. In preparation, I’ve already bought a CAD system, a digitizer and a 72″ plotter (the official announcement -and the hardware- comes later). I will learn to use Adobe Illustrator (but still plan to use Danielle for pretty stuff). Heck, I might even learn how to use my digital camera and cell phone. For now, I have to caution people not to leave a message because I have no idea how to retrieve them and nine year olds are in short supply around here.
I’m on fire with techo-goals! While I’m at it, I may go whole hog and finally learn how to turn on the TV. Every year I resolve to watch more TV so I can figure out who all these people are that everyone keeps talking about, or the shows people talk about, so I suppose the first step is to learn how to turn it on. Not so easily done these days, power button has to be hit on no less than four different contraptions plus a menu selection on one that still has me stymied. This last resolution is probably a waste of bytes; I’ve been resolving to watch more TV since 2004, and once for a spate of years in the early 90’s. To whit, I’d resolved to learn how to use the VCR (1995-1998) but technology progressed to such extent I’ve been relieved of this option. Perhaps I’ll learn how to open the DVD player instead. Not operate mind you, open (and pray from there). Operating is a whole other skill set. Don’t get the idea I’m a total luddite. I have no problem cracking a computer case and replacing doo-dahs or installing software on my server but turning on the TV has me stumped. Where’s a fourth grader when you need one?
Before I digressed, in 2008, I plan to move backwards by moving forward (technology). Writing has been good to me but it’s not my passion. All the indicators say I’m making the wrong move; there’s less and less demand for what I do. That’s the truth. But still, part of me thinks that my generation may be the last of those with solid skill sets, those who learned before there were cut and paste CAD systems with their simplistic instructions and tutorials, orienting and instructing an entire generation of pattern makers who’ve never worked with hard copy -or even know how to sew. I can only imagine my market, those who’d buy my patterns will similarly shrink but still, that’s better than nothing. With writing, I have nearly no pattern customers. Focusing on pattern making, I’m bound to gain some. In fact, an unnamed retail pattern company has tendered a generous proposal that I am considering. Funny what can happen if you focus energy towards new goals.
I want to make difficult patterns -tools people can learn from- to help others develop aspirational skills. If you’ve never worked in a factory environment or had pre-existing patterns to work from and learn from, you’ve never had a mentor in absentia. Any kind of mentor, even in absentia, is better than none. I want to make tool sets that people can learn from, that I’lllearn from. You only grow through stretching and I’ve been lax for too long. I also want to do experimental silly things. Maybe things no one could ever wear. Exercises really, possibilities, the ouroburus patterns come to mind. Hopefully between what may amount to art projects, I can churn out something that’ll pay the bills.
To start, I have to learn that CAD system I bought. I’ve been kicking the tires on it for the past week (weekends and holidays too!) and it will continue to eat into my blogging time but I’ve come far enough to think I won’t be drafting on it much, not at the outset. All of the CAD companies say that CAD will neatly integrate into a pattern maker’s preferred method of work, well, we’ll see. I’m going to hold them to that. I start the whole process by generating a cutter’s must, an inventory of pattern pieces that need to be made. The software I bought is up to version 10 and still doesn’t have a cutter’s must add on. Hmmm.
I am increasingly alarmed by skill losses…I almost feel like the window, the very entry point to the skill world is getting smaller. My market is getting smaller, fewer of the newest DEs think they need to read a book. They all seem to think information should be free and their sense of entitlement rankles. Why are they entitled to derive profit from their efforts but I am not? Maybe they are right? Besides, who needs to read a book if you’re all about branding tee shirts? Perhaps it’s time for me to move on. Refocusing on this new direction is bound to be of value to even an increasingly smaller market but I almost feel an imperative. I mean, who else is doing it? No one. I may as well try. I can always regroup next year and chalk up 2008 as an abysmal failure. I just don’t know many other people, younger than me, who have these skills. Making aspirational patterns available in a digital format to transmit skills, may be a way of lasting longer and holding on.
Believe me, I thought of expanding to meet new market demands (how to produce a tee shirt line) but I think I’ll do the opposite and put a fine point to what I’m already about. Luxury is dying, it’s ubiquitous. Through ubiquity of brands, trademarks and logos, it has become homogenized. Designers are merely stylists, fewer and fewer people actually know how to do things anymore. Some day we’ll come full circle and people will need to know again, want to know again. I may not be alive then but some of what I do has to survive and maybe people will pick it up then.
In sum, for 2008, I’m looking for challenges. Something that will excite and inspire me. I will spent a lot more time learning, leaving me less time for writing. Maybe I’ll only post three times a week here, two somewhere else, on a subscription only skills site. Maybe. I think I’ll travel less this coming year too. I wouldn’t mind having more company tho. I’m thinking of conversing more, but with fewer people. 2008 will be a year of investment. Time to catch up, learn and apply, be a student again. Of course I’ll pass along what I’m learning as I go along (I do plan on writing more about patterns and sewing but restricting the information to the forum) but I’m hoping that the year will set me on a new path for the next ten years.
What about you? Can you inspire yourself to reach and take some new risks this year? What do you plan to do differently? How will you move forward?