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Artist of the Month - January 2003

Michelle Tomburello: Hair Design Makes the Cut
by Sydney Francis

Michelle Tomburello has been a professional hair designer for 15 years. Raised in Arizona, Tomburello came to Moab from Oklahoma City seven years ago to get back to the desert beauty of the Southwest. She currently practices the functional art of hair design out of Atomic Hair.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that most people do not consider hair design an art form. But I beg you to think again. Like any artistic medium, hair styling can be formulaic or artfully creative. And although the Academy would like us to believe that hair design cannot possibly be art with a capital “A”, hair design is a creative medium that draws upon originality, style, and the refinement of technique.
There is no question that hair design is inextricably bound to the fashion industry, and that fashion is one of the most immediately available manifestations of affordable art. Most people choose clothes and a hairstyle that makes them beautiful or good about themselves. Hair, like clothing, can visually enhance and expresses facets of our identity. Therefore, hair can become a medium in which we can bravely explore new identities or frame the beauty and style we already posses.

Tomburello finds that many people believe that there is a series of set formulas to hair cutting. But she explains that each person’s hairstyle must take into consideration a unique combination qualities: hair texture, thickness, color, head shape, and facial features. No two people have the exact same set of qualities, save identical twins. In addition to these qualities, Tomburello must take into account the personality and personal style of the client. A successful hair design enhances the set of qualities the client has, while creatively enhancing their personal sense of self and style.

Tomburello would like her clients to feel good about themselves and be happy with their overall hair design. In order to accommodate the whole person, she must figure out answers to the following questions: how does this person want to look; what is a hairstyle that is harmonious with his/her lifestyle; how much time will this person have to care for and style his/her hair; and how will this hair style effect and enhance this persons self-image? Tomburello’s overarching goal is to create a personalized hair design that takes into account all of these different factors. But she is most concerned with creating a final product that reflects each of her client’s unique sense of beauty and style.

I had my hair designed for the sake of the article. I am a bleach blonde with thin and stringy hair, light features and an oval head. I do not like spending time styling my hair. I would like to get out of the shower and have a great looking “do” without any work. I am attempting to grow my hair long again after a couple years of experimenting with short cuts. Ultimately, I would like my hair to look good, while being fun and a little different.

As you may note in the after picture, Tomburello gave me some textured bangs, which are versatile and give me the feeling of being fashionable. She layered my hair to emphasize the appearance of length and add to its overall fullness. She razor cut it to give me extra, added texture. The overall cut is easy for me to style and looks fun and fashionable, while I am in the in between stage of short and long hair.

In addition to this highly personalized treatment, Tomburello has a vast amount of knowledge and experience with hair texture, color, style and hair products. She attended the Bon Curtis Academy which, under the direction of Wynn Claybaugh, emphasized professionalism in the cosmetology industry while concentrating on the different elements of hair design (cutting, products, technology and fashion, to name a few). The cosmetology industry is a constantly changing industry, in which technological advances in hair products and tools effect fashion and style. Tomburello continues to attend seminars and workshops in order to expand her abilities and techniques, keeping pace with the advances in cosmetology and the changing face of fashion.

Even if you still do not consider hair design an art form, consider the possibility that your sense of identity can be creatively influenced by how you express yourself through your hair. Through an artfully enhanced countenance we project our style and individuality out into the world for all to see. And wouldn’t we all like to have a little more fun and creativity into our lives?

Tomburello offers hair cutting and coloring by appointment at Atomic Hair, 259-6902. She is an authorized dealer of Aveda products, which contain all natural ingredients.

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