A long time ago when I was doing journalism, I was assigned by a men’s magazine to interview a famous clothing designer. Generally I don’t like reading interviews with famous people because the questions are either fawning or transparently aggressive. So I thought okay if I’m going to do this, I’ll at least try to ask things that come from an unexpected direction and hopefully elicit different responses. The first question I asked this man was, “What do you think when you see a short fat guy wearing one of your three thousand dollar suits? Or a skinny birdlike woman who’s just this side of anorexia in one of your chic gowns? Does that bother you? Let’s face it— at a fashion show, your clothes are shown on beautiful models with remarkable bodies, so of course everything looks great. But what happens when you see those same clothes worn by real people who are bald, have bad posture, etcetera?
He said I love to see the little fat man wearing a black and yellow striped sweater that I designed for a six foot tall adonis. You know why? Because when that little man tries on my sweater in the store and looks at himself in the mirror, if I have done my job successfully he does not see a little fat man. He really sees an adonis in yellow. That is why he pays a lot of money for my work. That is the magic of good design. No— that is the magic of all successful art: In one way or another, all real artists are able to turn the beast into beauty for a while.