I Don’t Like To Repeat Outfits: Musings on Creativity


A version of this post was originally published on www.sallyodowd.com.

This post starts with a shameless plug, but for a storytelling reason, I swear.

I was featured in BloombergBusinessweek’s Fashion Page earlier this spring. In preparing for the Brooklyn photo shoot, reporter Arianne Chen asked me some questions about my thoughts on fashion.

I told her that I learned to appreciate fashion as an art form while living in Paris for two years. The French have a fashion sense all their own and want to appear irreproachable in their attire and accessories — down to the smallest detail. Women wear jeans much less frequently than American women do. And dresses are key — the French see them as a huge sign of femininity.

So, I guess it’s no wonder that the first piece of artwork I bought shortly after my 2012 return to New York was a fashion sketch. Created by up-and-coming artist Ben Saulnier, it reminded me of Givenchy’s 1980s conceptual drawings.

I recently chatted with Ben, who graduates this spring from the School of Visual Arts. Here’s his take on creativity and doing something new every day. Read on: It’s good inspiration for other creative types and office dwellers alike.

Sally: You’ve done so many fashion sketches but you’re a painter, not a fashion designer. What’s that about?
Ben: I thought, “What do I do everyday?” I get dressed.

Sally: We also eat everyday.
Ben: I don’t like to repeat outfits, so last August I started sketching daily outfits to decide what would look good and make an aesthetic statement.

Sally: That is a lot of self-discipline. Something all of us creative types could learn from.
Ben: In New York, there are so many distractions, and it can be hard to stick to a routine. I had to find a way around it if I wanted to get a running start on my career. Even if I did the sketches in my dorm room, it motivated me to go to the SVA studio and work on larger pieces.

Sally: Does your artistic discipline apply to other activities?
Ben: Yes, it also inspired me to work out every day, even on days I don’t want to.

Sally: And your outfits?
Ben: I want to show people that colors and fabrics don’t have to be exclusively masculine or feminine. A jacket in marigold yellow can be a strong statement, a really self-confident look. Paired with a satin shirt, you get two different sensations against each other. In fashion, like art, you can communicate an entire idea without saying a word.

Sally: You’re going to Paris this summer to meet with gallery owners. How are you prepping?
Ben: You have to be ready when opportunity knocks. I am constantly growing and changing my portfolio so I have current work to share. If you’re not constantly making things, no one will tell you to.

Ben is part of a group SVA show taking place April 26-28 atStudio 420, 335 W 16th between 8th and 9th.

Sally O’Dowd is chief of strategy at PR and digital content firm OpenCommunications.  She blogs on creativity and careers from www.sallyodowd.com.  Find her on Twitter @sallyodowd.

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