Dear Preston: How Do I Stay Relevant?


Dear Preston

Dear Preston:

You have been in this business for 34 years and have managed to stay relevant.  What are your tips for others looking to do the same?In an industry of trends,  constant movement and obsession with all things new, it’s not easy.

Feeling Irrelevant.

Dear Feeling Irrelevant,

First, thank you for your compliment. It’s funny, I never think of myself as relevant, but always as a work-in-progress.  That being said, here are my thoughts in response to your candid and courageous letter.  As an Artist living, working and creating in the world today, you have a very important choice to make. Do you want to be a follower or do you prefer to take on the difficult task of working to be an original? Remember, there is no right or wrong answer here, but it is essential to know where you stand on this topic.

Years ago, after a few trials and errors, I decided that, for better or worse, I would always try to create original work.  Mind you, a lot of people do not like my “over-the-top” approach, and that’s ok. For me nothing beats a dramatic space.  In addition, I will state very clearly that while I thought that work was so “cool” and “original” back in the day, looking back at some of it leaves me mortified (like the one above that looks like a woman’s breast).

My first piece of advice to you is to find what makes you happy as an artist and stick with it.  My second piece of advice is not to look at the work of your colleagues. I know this may seem a bit unbelievable, but I do not look at other people’s work.  The reason is very simple in that I can be a very insecure person and I may be too envious or even try and copy it.  I much prefer having a blank slate and get my inspiration from other sources such as fashion, visual artistry, my clients, the theatre, architecture, nature, etc.  But designing in a bubble is a double-edged sword in that you may wind up designing ridiculous designs like the one above.
My third piece of advice for you is to set aside time to create every single day.  This is something that, due to our busy schedules, we all tend to forget.  There is truth in the “use it or lose it” adage so set aside an hour a day to hone your craft.  Lastly, forget the trends, forget the “new” and focus more on being an original artists.  If what you design is authentic and has a point-of-view, you will become and stay relevant without trying.

I have a question for all of you.  Please be open with us and share whether or not you are more comfortable being a leader or follower and why.  Also, please share at least one idea, even if it is a form of service, that was originally created by you.

I cannot wait to read your thoughts.




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Photo Courtesy of John Labbe