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Personalities Plus

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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

One of the most fascinating aspects of watershaping is the broad array of personalities that define the industry. From my perspective, getting to know those who contribute to these pages is a process of discovery that makes preparing every issue a private joy that is always publicly reflected in the magazine.

For those of you who pay attention to the cast of characters whose work and thoughts are represented here, you’re probably most familiar with Brian Van Bower, Stephanie Rose, David Tisherman and Mike Farley – columnists who, issue after issue, share their insights and philosophies with all comers.

But through the years, there have been scores of other characters who have participated in this forum, and we take pride in the fact that each and every article in every single issue conveys information about the watershapers behind all the work along with glimpses into the hearts and minds of their clients as well. Perceiving this “personality factor” is critical to understanding watershaping as an art form because, like most creative pursuits, the personal creative sparks between artist and client tend to result in the most distinctive projects.

We can see this in the most famous of watershapes: Consider, for example, how the pools at Hearst Castle reflected the personalities of both William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan, or the way the Playboy Mansion’s pool directly expresses both Hugh Hefner’s lifestyle and the design sensibilities of Ron and Suzanne Dirsmith. As beautiful as those works are given their own visual merits, the thing that makes them so fascinating is the way they reflect the personalities of those involved in creating them.

That same principle applies to works that are not so well known, even though those projects can provide even stronger reflections of personality. Indeed, watershaping is one of those endeavors that require a certain symbiosis of personalities between watershaper and client – a note we’ve sounded countless times through the years. Not only do watershapes represent personalities, they also reflect on a creative process driven by individual preference, passion, background and even peculiarities.

This issue features a project that stands as one of the most vivid and unusual expressions of personality and creative collaboration we’ve ever published. Here, first-time WaterShapes contributor Colleen Holmes describes a project she recently completed for a client who was obsessed with color, variety and whimsical humor – so much so that the whole affair defies categorization in terms of style or any familiar design sensibility.

It’s a project that could only happen when artist and client develop a creative rapport and a project-specific design vocabulary. In describing this collaboration, Holmes walks us through a remarkable tour of the ways a client’s personality can be expressed, magnified and celebrated using water, stone, light, textiles and garden ornamentation. It’s fearless stuff – and a bit giddy as well.

Although this basic principle of watershaper/client collaboration is expressed in subtler forms in the vast majority of articles we publish, this feature (click here) provides particularly keen insight into that process. It shows watershaping as being about something more than the sum of its parts and explores the point at which it becomes an art form that can tell us a lot about ourselves.

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