I have enjoyed Project Runway as a guilty pleasure for several seasons, but have recently realized the many connections and parallels to life as a visual artist.
Creating under pressure. The designers have an almost impossibly short amount of time to turn out something to prevent their models from having to walk the runway naked. I often feel this kind of panic when I am working to meet deadlines. Sometimes the pressure is very helpful in finding that laser sharp focus I need to see a painting through to completion.
Sewing, duh. I used to do a fair amount of sewing, from children’s clothes to quilts, before going all in with watercolors. There always seemed to be very few in my generation who sew, making me feel like some kind of alien. My limited sewing experience gives me a great appreciation for the pattern-making and construction that I get to watch the Project Runway designers execute.
Critique. If you have seen the show, you know that the judges’ comments can be absolutely brutal! Still, I find myself in envy of the honest criticism the designers receive. As artists, we all need someone to just tell us the truth, without regard to our tender feelings. Sometimes I feel like a detective having to interpret comments like, “I like the frame”, and “I love the colors” as desperate attempts to say something positive about something the viewer just doesn’t care for.
Falling Flat. I can’t help but feel for the designer when he/she is so excited about his/her creation, even executing it to his/her personal best, only to have it shredded by the judges’ scathing review. As artists, I think we have all experienced hanging a piece that we absolutely love—that contains a huge piece of our heart and soul—only to have it walked past and ignored.
Getting lucky. Then, sometimes a designer will just throw something together and the judges will love it and praise it all day long. Haven’t we all had that effortless painting just come out of nowhere, turning out to be the greatest thing since hummus?
Staying true to your own point of view. How many times do we see a designer go home because he/she lost all direction and became too caught up in the theme of the challenge? The designers who have their own voice, their own signature always shining through (as well as being inventive and creative) are the ones who make it to the end. This is beyond true as an artist. So many times I have found myself painting the way I think something is supposed to be painted. It’s only when I scrap that and paint how I want to paint it that I come up with something truly unique and my own.