Social Media Relationships

Social media relationships are real relationships

When I read, “The core goal of social media is to enhance client experiences, cultivate your relationship online,” I actually shivered. Really, I did. I think I’ve got issues with vacuous #TwitterPlatitudes like: enhance client experiences YUK!

Surely it should read, “The core goal of social media is to be Social?” i.e: Companionable.

Look, I’m not going to beat around the bush here, I’ve been on social media almost since it started in 1997; in 1998 I started my first blog! And I can assure you, if you want to, Get the best out of Social Media, all you have to do is follow the rules of social media etiquette – Number one being: Be Friendly.

Here’s an example of how NOT to do it:

My wife is reading The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies, and she is (maybe was) really enjoing it. So she looked-up and followed @DinahJefferies on Twitter. And she tweeted: “I’m reading #TheTeaPlantersWife by @DinahJefferies and loving it.”

Dinah Jefferies Liked the tweet.

One of my wife’s followers tweeted, “Thanks for recommendation, ordering a copy today”
And my wife replied, “I hope you’ll enjoy it :-)”

Dinah Jefferies did NOT follow my wife back, and did not engage further – even though my wife had potentially sold a book for her.

What should Dinah Jefferies have done?

Simply, Dinah Jefferies should have thanked my wife and engaged her in further conversation, because they are the basic rules of social media etiquette.

My wife unfollowed @DinahJefferies and is now a little iffy with the book.

Social Media is all about being social. COMMUNICATION – If you can’t do it, don’t do it!

Is Hairdressing An Art Form?

Yet another blog post that has been requested by my friends on #HairHour – 10 Feb 2016. Initially inspired by Salon Evolution (@salonevolution) and egged on by Hair Hour (@Hair_Hour). Actually this is a blog post that I’ve wanted to write for ages.

Grayson Perry - Guerrilla Tactics: (2002) Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. NAi(010) Publishers, Rotterdam, NetherlandsGrayson Perry – Guerrilla Tactics: (2002) Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. NAi(010) Publishers, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The first time I saw Grayson Perry’s artwork was in June 2002 at the Stedelijk modern art museum, Amsterdam. And I was totally bowled over. And I felt an affinity with his work. You see, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of an artist. A lot of hairdressers do; because we’re working with our hands and there is a strong sense of sculpting; we are working with shape and form, each hairdo being individual. At this point I could start rambling on and on about my education, art influences and my days as a trainee architectural and industrial model maker, but I won’t. You’ll thank me for that.

training to be an architectural and industrial model maker at Paradigm ModelsMe, 18, training to be an architectural and industrial model maker at Paradigm Models.

Yeah, well, anyway, it was 1976 and the client I was standing behind said, “You hairdressers are now like pop stars.”
“Am I like a pop star?” I asked.
“Yes, very much so,” she said, and that’s where it ended. And I’ve never really understood how she meant it; was it good or bad to be like a pop star? In reality, I felt as though I were like an artist because I was trying to express myself through my work. And for me, my creations had a narrative behind them, they still do; it’s why I found Abandoned Suitcase Reveals A Love Affair so fascinating – I felt a million miles away from what I visualised as being a pop star.

Over the past year (in 2015) the Bank of England asked for nominations for ‘people of historic significance from the world of visual arts’ – they want to put an artist on a twenty pound note. And yes, as one would expect, the wonderful world of hairdressing offered up the bloody obvious – the old maestro himself, Vidal Sassoon! A little embarrassing I thought. Let’s face it, hairdressing isn’t really a visual art, is it – even though I and most other hairdressers would like it to be. Hairdressing is a craft. And a transient craft at that!

In 2013 Grayson Perry gave BBC Radio 4’s Reith Lecture, entitled Playing to the Gallery. As a devotee, I listened and actually took some notes (of which I’m about to use). In one of the three lectures (Beating the bounds) Perry presents eight tests to mark the boundaries of art to establish if it’s art that one is looking at! Here I will sort of apply Perry’s tests to hairdressing and see how we fare:

Is it in a gallery or an art context?

Artist Cornelia Parker, in a collaboration with Tilda Swinton (British actress, performance artist, model, and fashion icon), created an art installation called: The Maybe (1995), where Swinton lay ‘asleep’ in a glass vitrine display cabinet at the Serpentine Gallery, London. There is no mention of Swinton’s hair anywhere – You can take a hairstyle into a gallery, but that doesn’t make it art!

For me, art is about ‘expressing an original idea’ within a context (a body of work) and a narrative. Take Pablo Picasso’s artwork: Bull’s Head (Tête de taureau – 1942), simply assembled from an old leather bicycle seat (the head) and a rusty pair of handlebars (the horns). It’s one of those artworks that you can easily diminish by saying, “I could have done that!” However, it expresses an original idea, it sits well within today’s art context and was intended by Picasso to be art – pushing your old bike into a gallery wouldn’t have the same effect.

Hairstyles struggle, in my opinion, to fit within an art context because of their ‘intentionality’ and lack of ‘meaning.’

Is it a boring version of something else?

Even though the fashion industry, coiffeurs and their clientèle take hairstyles seriously, in my view there is far too much acclamation. There is a falseness in the fashion industry that ‘hurts’ hairdressing – the hair at the Paris fashion show was unoriginal, drab, boring, but the fashionistas applauded it enthusiastically.

Hairdressing can be both original and aesthetically pleasing (yeah and it can be funny too G.Perry), but however it appears: divine or disgusting, ordinary or extraordinary, it functions within the bounds of an aesthetic framework – Sounds quite a lot like ART to me – Oh Dear!

Is it made by an artist?

“Art historian Ernst Gombrich said, ‘there is no such thing as art, only artists.’ So you have to be an artist to make art.” Grayson Perry, 2013, BBC Radio 4, Reith Lecture, Playing To The Gallery, Beating the Bounds.

Ai Weiwei The Artist Barber of Caochangdi, Beijing

The Chinese Contemporary artist, activist and Lego bandito Ai Weiwei, is known for cutting hair. Does this make his haircuts a work of art? Absofuckinglutely NOT.

Photography. Problematic!

Yeah, photography Is problematic. I’m not sure Perry got this boundary marker right? He asked a photographer friend of his for a definition of a photograph as art, and his friend said, if it’s bigger than two metres and costs more than five figures! There was no mention of the visual artist Man Ray, who contributed so much to the Dada and Surrealist movements – his photographs usually make five figures or more.

Obviously hairstyles and photography go hand in hand, for how else are we to see hairstyles from the 1930s, 40s, 50s… or ‘Trevor Sorbie’s wedge?’ Is a photograph of a hairstyle in a gallery representative of hairdressing as an art form? Surely the answer has got to be ‘No’ – isn’t that artistic entitlement by proxy?

I suppose what I’m saying is, even though the National Portrait Gallery are celebrating one hundred years of Vogue, ‘A Century of Style’ (1916-2016), by putting on an exhibition, the hairstyles therein are not art.

The limited edition test

A classic example of a limited edition is that of a signed limited edition print; in the bottom left-hand corner, written in pencil by the artist, is the edition number of the print: 3/250 – meaning that this is the third print in a run of two hundred and fifty copies. I’m sure you can work out the maths, the greater the number of copies, the less each copy is worth. And I suppose you could say, the greater the number of copies, the more likely each copy becomes less of an artwork and more of a commercial object?

Apply this to hairdressing, and quite frankly you’ve got a shed load of hairdressing industry bollocks to contend with. Limited edition doesn’t really exist, even though in theory it’s supposed to – each client is a one off – in spite of the fact that they all look the fucking same!

The handbag and hipster test

The ‘handbags’ are the wives of the super rich Russian oligarchs, they waft through the streets of London soaking up culture and property. The ‘hipsters’ look a lot like lumbersexuals – beards, glasses, messenger bags and single speed or better still, fixed gear bikes (but they can’t build a fire or chop wood). It’s said that art belongs to the educated and the rich – so where ever you see a preponderance of ostentatious designer handbags and custom built Brick Lane bikes chained to the railings, you can be pretty sure something arty-farty is in the air.

Every London hairdresser knows these people, they are the wonderfully pernickety friends and clients who call us pop stars, artists and Daaarling. However, it’s also these people who I believe Vidal Sassoon was referring to when Reuters interviewed him in 2010. Sassoon said, “Hairdressing in general hasn’t been given the kudos it deserves. It’s not recognised by enough people as a worthy craft.”

I agree with Sassoon, it’s not recognised as a worthy craft; and that’s because of the transitory nature of hairdressing, a chignon, a style, a haircut are ephemeral and therefore seemingly worthless like paper cups, or a copy of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss on a never-ending print run.

The rubbish dump test (my favourite)

The rubbish dump test is the test I’ve always used. I imagine the artwork hidden in a scrap yard and wonder if I could pick it out amongst debris – BTW, I used to spend a lot of time in scrap yards looking for car parts. I liked Grayson Perry’s warning that a lot of artworks would fail the test because the rubbish dump itself may be the artwork.

Do you remember David Mach’s ‘nuclear protest’ sculpture Polaris (1983), made out of thousands of used car tyres? A scrapheap challenge extraordinaire outside the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London – someone set fire to it.

What’s the equivalent rubbish dump test for hair? Oxford Street on the first day of the winter sales? Discovering a genuine artistic creation under such conditions may take a little extra artistic talent in itself. Most people wouldn’t recognise a good haircut if it jumped out and bit them.

The computer art test

The computer art test is the last of Grayson Perry’s tests. Perry asks, how do we know it’s web art, and not just another interesting Website? The question seems a little naive to me, it shows a slight lack of understanding about what the internet is. Does a ‘piece’ of web art really need to be a Website? And it’s very interesting to look at Contemporary Artists’ Websites – not an inspiring pixel to be found.

Internet art, just like art in the real world, must make us stop and think and engage.

The same can be said for hairdressing sites, very uninspiring; my desire to stop and think, and not click-off within five seconds, has yet to be fulfilled.

I’ve got to say: for me, the epitome of shitty internet hair are those unbelievably egotistical, Mirror Image App. photographs that are the excrement of social media.

This is not art because we're smiling!

This is not art because we’re smiling – it’s a Happy Snap

Obviously hairdressing could be an art form, hairdressers, like artists, have the ability to see the world differently and express it and themselves through their work – most hairdressers do that, it’s part of the job. The problem comes with value, because hairdressing it so transient, so everyday, so commonplace.

Anyway, I’ve no problem with being called a craftsman; take a trip to your local museum and see all those artefacts made by craftsman throughout millennia – brilliant.

Further Reading and Resources

1970s Shampoo Nightmares

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London - Willie Christie's Studio

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London – Willie Christie’s Studio

This blog post, 1970s Shampoo Nightmares, has been requested by my friends on #HairHour – 10 Feb 2016. They thought it “would make a very interesting read!” I’m not too sure about that, you’d better judge for yourself!

Without meaning this to be a biography of my early years as a hairdresser, or a fucking history lesson: I’ve got to say this starts in the period between 1970 and 1980, maybe it was when Jimi Hendrix died in September 1970, or when Andre Mizelas (of Andre Bernard) got shot in November 1970, or maybe when Vidal Sassoon created his line of hair-care products in the early 1970s? The thing is, there was an imperceptible wind of change gently blowing – just like there is today, and it’s difficult for me to put a date to it, let’s say the early 1970s.

It was a time when most, if not all, London salons had their own line of self branded hair-care products for sale – I’m talking mainly shampoos and conditioners. They were formulated by so called, cosmetic chemists in small laboratories come kitchen sink factories. The name David Gold rings a bell, I don’t know why – the smell of coconut comes to mind when I think of the name! Salons bought their shampoos and conditioners by the gallon (4.5 litres) from the labs who personalised it (branded it) with ridiculous flavours and the salon’s name. These shampoos and conditioners were absolute crap – or were they? If you washed somewhere between fifteen and fifty heads of hair a day, six days a week, for three months solid, believe me, it really was absolute crap!

I say ridiculous flavours: lemon for greasy hair was typical and obvious, pineapple and orange were slightly less obvious and sickly. pine for normal hair, didn’t smell toilety, but of the woods. almond and coconut for dry and damaged hair. And the colours of course were pretty vivid: yellow, orange, green, pink and spunk white! As a creative junior I liked to mix them and create ‘cocktails’ – my favourite being a pina colada: 3 measures of pineapple, a dash of pine and lemon, 1 measure of coconut – the end result being clean hair, a happy mixologist and an oblivious client!

A junior’s morning job would be to: decant the shampoos and conditioners into the various ‘clean’ 2 litre glass carafes with cork stoppers, that sat behind the backwash like grand apothecary jars.

After a flutter with Lamaur (my favourite: apple pectin shampoo) and Wella, Ricci Burns (where I worked) ditched the laboratory and went down the innovative product road and embraced Redken products (first UK salon to do so); on the other hand, Vidal Sassoon was heavily into self branded products and I think they were the first to go into major production (with Helen of Troy Corporation), selling in the USA and Europe in 1980. This was the beginning of celebrity hairdresser branded hair-care and beauty products.

Today there are a plethora manufactured by ‘global’ beauty companies like: Procter & Gamble (Vidal Sassoon), L’Oréal (Jean-Louis David), Estée Lauder (Bobbi Brown – Makeup Artist) and Unilever (Tigi for hair salons, Toni & Guy)…

And you may ask: are salon (professional) products better than High Street (retail) products? Sadly, No, they’re not better! But I know it’s what hairdressers, salons, have always wanted. Unfortunately, expensive, celebrity/professional shampoos aren’t better – £3.99 or £39.99 there’s not a lot of difference; you don’t get what you pay for!

The trouble is, there’s such a lot of bollocks talked about hairdressing products; in the end it’s all about money, the bottom line, sales, turnover… I remember all the fuss caused by Wella in the mid-late 1970s, when they removed Lifetex conditioner from their professional range and allowed Boots to sell it at half the fucking price that a salon could buy it for in the first place (supermarket purchasing power)! (Get your arse down to the supermarket, but talk with your stylist first!)

There have always been well-known ‘celebrity’ hairdressers: Marcel Grateau (Marcel wave), Antoine (original short bob cut), Raymond Bessone (Mr. Teasy-Weasy), Andre Bernard (royal hairdresser)… Vidal Sassoon… However, it is today’s branded High Street beauty products, celebrity culture and consumerism that have changed the hairdressing and fashion scene for the worst – maybe those carafes of shampoo weren’t so bad after all?

Is It Safe To Visit Turkey

galata towerCrossing the Bosphorus between Üsküdar and Eminönü and passing by Galata tower – You’ve Got to do this.

Because of my close connections with the beautiful Turkey, all my clients talk to me about it (especially those about to go on a golfing holiday in Antalya), let’s face it, Turkey is in the news and not for all the right reasons – Of course they ask me, “is it safe to visit Turkey?”

Well, is it safe to visit Turkey? Here’s my reply:

Obviously, statistically, yes it’s safe to visit Turkey! Not only is it a most beautiful country, but the Turkish people themselves are lovely, friendly and extremely hospitable and the food, well don’t get me started on that, it is unbelievably delicious.

However, there are warnings, there is some risk. And it has got to be said (we all know the issues with Daesh and Syria), there is an extremely high threat of terrorism in certain areas – for instance, in the South East of Turkey and especially along the Syria/Iraq/Iran border, and it’s not just bombings or shootings, but kidnappings too (the British government don’t pay ransom).

The reason I pour doubt on the question, is it safe to visit Turkey: Partly due to a number of political problems over the past year or so, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party, headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) has resumed conflicts with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK – Kurdish separatists). This brings to an end the Kurdish–Turkish peace process, confirms Erdogan’s anti-Kurdish nationalist stance and ‘may’ open the door to future acts of PKK terrorism similar to the 2005 Kusadasi bus bombing on Turkey’s western Aegean coast?

Just to say, the PKK are considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union! Since 1978 they’ve been involved in a campaign against the Turkish government to create an independent nation state of Kurdistan. Personally, I stand by their cause, but not by the violence.

Then of course there’s Daesh!

Over the last year (2015-2016), there have been number of terrorist bombings and terrorist incidents in Turkey- not all attributed to Daesh. They make very sad reading:

  • 06 January ’15, Sultanahmet, Istanbul: suicide bombing: 1 + bomber killed, 1 injured.
  • 05 June ’15, Diyarbakir rally bombing: 4 killed, 100+ injured.
  • 20 July ’15, Suruç bombing: 33 killed, 104 injured.
  • 10 October ’15, Ankara railway station bombing: 102 killed, 400+ injured.
  • 01 December ’15, Istanbul metro bombing: 1 killed, 5+ injured.
  • 23 December ’15, Sabiha Gökçen airport, Istanbul bombing: 1 killed, 1 injured.
  • 12 January ’16, Sultanahmet, Istanbul bombing: 11 killed, 14 injured.
  • 17 February ’16, Ankara, Military Convoy: 29 killed.
  • [edit] 13 March ’16, Ankara bombing: 37 killed, 125 injured.
  • [edit] 19 March ’16, İstiklal Ave, Beyoğlu, Istanbul: suicide bomber: 4 killed, 36 injured.
  • [edit] 07 June ’16, Vezneciler district, Istanbul: car bomb: 12 killed, about 36 injured.
  • [edit] 28 June ’16, Ataturk Airport Istanbul: suicide bombing: 41 killed, 239+ injured.
  • [edit] 15 July ’16, Turkey: coup d’état: 294 killed, 1,500+ injured, thousands arrested.

And I’m wondering if Turkish tourism is about to go tits up?

After the downing of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 and the subsequent diplomatic fallout, Russian tourists are saying ‘HeT’ and are staying well clear of their favourite beaches in Antalya. Couple that with the Sultanahmet bombing, which killed ten German tourists and injured a many others, and it could mean the Germans are about to say ‘Nein’ to holidaying in Turkey too? And if that wasn’t enough; only weeks after the Tunisia beach massacre (26 June 2015), where 38 (mainly British) tourists were killed and 36 injured, Turkish hotel workers at: Grand Yazici Mares hotel, Icmeler and Club Hotel Pineta, Marmaris posed as Daesh terrorists in ‘poolside pranks’ scaring British holidaymakers shitless – Turkish workers showing what they really feel about their EU guests and their precious tourist industry?

HOWEVER, as I’ve already said, Turkey, it’s people and cuisine are wonderful; (YES I would recommend) think about it before you go on a Turkish holiday especially in Istanbul, my favourite destination.

Three Things We Always Do In Istanbul

Turkish coffee Ethem Tezcakar Grand BazaarHave an outstanding Turkish coffee at Ethem Tezçakar Kahveci in the Grand Bazaar. Address: 61/63 Halicilar Cad. Grand Bazaar.

Sehzade Erzurum Cag KebabiEat at one of Istanbul’s best kabab restaurants, Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebabi 3/A, Hocapasa Sok. Sirkeci, Istanbul. cağ kebab – we’re talking donner kebab on a skewer.

Hagia Sophia | Ayasofya | Aya SofyaVisit Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya or Aya Sofya) and see the Viking graffiti. This awe-inspiring former Byzantine church of the Holy Wisdom, first built in 360 AD by Constantine the Great – it’s now a museum.

Enjoy your trip, let me know how you got on xXx

[Edit: 30th June 2016: Things are getting worse, Please seek travel advice. The Foreign Office advises that British tourists visiting Turkey should be alert to their surroundings and remain vigilant in crowded places – which is pretty fucking obvious!]