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By the Books

Jeffrey shares advice on how to break into design and what he learned in this episode.

By Jeffrey Alan Marks

I have been approached by a large number of people since the show started that ask me the same question, "If I want to become a decorator what should I do?" My answer is "Go to school." The Interior Design industry is overrun with people with no formal training that call themselves designers. The result is a world of of weak design by people who don’t know Willy Rizzo from Wile E. Coyote. While I don't believe you can teach good taste, knowing the history of design, art, and architecture are essential if you plan on becoming a really great decorator. And that is only the beginning. Anybody watching the show will know by now that the job is far more difficult than one would believe it to be, and if you don't know your way around an architectural plan it does not end well. Even I, with a solid design and architecture education, have difficulty dealing with hurdles that come my way from time to time. I really can't stress enough the value of a good foundation when considering a career in design.

The idea of getting an education in what ever you aim to do in life is a lesson I should have taken to heart before I began shooting MDD. I should have studied Reality TV in greater depth. Having watched this week's episode I feel like I should have drowned myself in the bathtub for being such an ass! It's not a pretty thing watching that unpleasant fight with Ross and all of the ensuing drama. I don't enjoy any kind of conflict, I like a peaceful environment where I can design beautiful projects for really nice people that appreciate good design. Let's face it, the road to a good end product is paved with obstacles and from time to time it gets ugly and it really got ugly in this episode for Ross and I. Kathryn, too, is dealing with the unattractive side of the industry. Her job in Malibu is getting sour fast, and it does not seem like it's about to get better any time soon.

I think the best way to judge a decorator is to look at their own home. It is the truest expression of their aesthetic because they are doing exactly what they want to do in their own environment. Looking at my bathroom in this week's episode I can't help but think to myself how pretty it is. It so clearly speaks my design language. It is exactly the way I want it to look, and it represents the kind of work I like to do. So I would hope that my clients would love my house as much as I do. When looking for a decorator it is vital to find someone who's work speaks to you, because the reality of the decorating business is that the decorator is always going to want to put their specific stamp on the job and that every client wants to do the same. The closer you can get to a unified vision at the onset the more likely you are to have a successful partnership on a project and the less likely you are to have difficulty along the way.

Ross and I are off to Aspen for the 4th of July. Happy trails to you!

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