Brad Johns, Clairol global color director and artistic director of Avon Salon & Spa, offers his advice for finding passion in your profession.
Throughout my career, I've had the good fortune to have worked with and learned from many true icons of the beauty business: Oribe, Serge Normant, Andre Marthielieu Chris Cusano and Bruno Pittini, among others. Their passion for their art makes them mavericks in their field: It's what separates the good from the ordinary, even the good from the great.
A good artist—a haircolorist, a painter, a graphic designer—has such passion for what they do, it's their whole life. They'll do anything to be the best they can be, and they can never learn enough about it. Their passion can even make them obsessed; Van Gogh's drive for perfection was so extreme, he cut off his own ear. When you have passion for your art, you just do it, even when you're tired after yet another 12-hour day, and your feet hurt. I can remember staying up all night coloring wigs for Oribe, because he was doing a shoot the next day, and never giving it a second thought. Neither of us did. It was our life, and our legacy.
My passion for my art is the most important thing in my life. I find inspiration everywhere, whether I'm at an art gallery or at the beach observing children at play, and staring at their haircolor. When you can't see yourself doing anything else because you love it so much, you can make a very good living as an artist. But I sometimes think that this kind of passion has taken a backseat today, with increasing numbers of people entering the field just to make money. Someone who comes in at 11 A.M., is late for their clients and falls back on a single process because they're tired or they can't think of anything else to do isn't an artist. The passion isn't there.
Don't get me wrong: I do see a lot of good things today. There's a lot more training available than ever before, with many more companies providing vehicles for learning. I couldn't find anything like this when I was 17 and first starting out in the business. The downside is, despite the opportunity people have to learn from excellent, well-trained educators, I don't see a lot of people learning how to put the right color on the right woman at the right time. Some people just don't get that women want to look beautiful and sexy, not like a rock star when they're an administrative assistant. It's easy to do over-the-top, rock-star hair. But women don't want easy, and they certainly don't want to look garish. They want to look beautiful and to make a statement. The big difference between my own training and the education that is available today is that I learned from artists who did a lot of salon work and studio work. They had tremendous hands-on experience and day-to-day knowledge because they did so much of it. They knew how women wanted to look and feel, and what looked good in life and in photos.
If you feel passionate about haircolor, my advice is to certainly take advantage of as much education as you possibly can. Then go to the three best colorists in your area, salons that stand out because of their work, their business and their reputation, and tell them, "I want to work with you. I want to train with the best." Don't give up. Your passion will lead you to success.