Lesson Learned 3 - Nick Biggs “I promise It’ll pay off.”

Check out Nick’s DQYD episode here: https://dqydpodcast.com/episodes/2016/6/27/episode-14-with-hairstylist-nick-biggs?rq=nick%20biggs

Hello Daydreamers, this week I talked to Hairstylist Nick Biggs! Nick is another one of my good friends (and former roommate) who I’ve personally seen through some serious ups and downs. But most of my relationship to Nick came after he was already fairly well established in Evansville as one of the top hair stylists.Generally Nick is a pretty laid back guy, so hearing about him really grinding out the hours in the early stages of his hairstyling career was interesting. I’m someone who’s personally still in the early stages of grinding it out to learn and grow and try to establish myself as an expert in my field. It’s terrifying sometimes when you’re looking at the overwhelming odds in front of you, when you do something and it turns out to be terrible, when you feel way way more likely to have to pay people to check your stuff out then ever be able to earn a living. All while also trying to balance pressures and bills and responsibilities. It can be absolutely overwhelming. And to be honest, heading into the interview I was at a point where I was losing the fight to my doubts and falling into a deep slump.

Thinking back to living with Nick though, one of the things that’s incredible about him is the confidence he maintains in his work despite any and everything else going on outside. Strip his home from him, strip his relationships away (please don’t though I’m happy to see him happy), and strip away the happy days and leave him only in his deepest muk and he still has an absurd confidence that he can have you leave the chair looking more beautiful than when you came in. And that type of confidence can change everything on those days.

Alex: Okay so to start let's do a brief recap of who you are and what you do

Nick: My name is Nick Biggs, I do hair at the electric owl. I specialize in the edgier side of the hair world and men's cutting. I also enjoy fashion color jobs and women's cutting as well, especially the more obscure or alternative fashions.

Alex: What is it about the edgier side of the hair world that draws you so much?

Nick: I'd say the edgier side of hair is generally characterized by a few different elements of hair. Choppier layers, drastic fades, obscure movement, vivid colors, etc. Aside from general "cool" aesthetic, a lot of these kinds of cuts and colors have some pretty cool history rooted in rebellious subcultures (i.e. mohawks, mullets, mod crops, pixie cuts, flat tops, pompadours, psycho quiffs, etc.) and that's always been a big draw for me. Another thing that I love about that side of the hair world is the effect it has on the client. Some of these cuts take some balls just to get in the first place and I love being able to help draw that confidence out of people. Getting an edgy haircut or color really helps some people dive into their own image and express themselves in ways they maybe didn't previously see as possible.

Alex: First off that's beautiful, and every hair stylist interested in doing edgier styles should print this out and tape it to their mirror. But specializing in those styles themselves took some confidence to do as well. Did you always know that's the route you wanted to go or did you come to it over time?

Nick: To be perfectly honest, I actually never originally saw myself going into this industry at all. I went to art school for like a year and dropped out after realizing it just wasn't going to be a very marketable move for me. I also apprenticed as a tattoo artist for like 8 months in a shop that I'd rather not disclose. That whole experience was pretty shady and I was glad to put it behind me. I always joked with myself that if all else failed, I could go to hair school. Then all else did kinda fail and one day I was like, "Yeah fuck it, hair school it is". I knew from the jump that I had more of an interest in the edgier side of the hair world, but as I learned more technique, history, and what kind of work it takes to truly craft these cuts and colors, that's when I really fell in love with that side of the industry. In most cases, that side requires more skill and knowledge to pull off well.

Alex: Honestly that makes a lot of sense to me since i would describe you as more of a hair artist then a hair stylist. So given that these styles require a little more experience did you ever struggle when you were first starting out?

Nick: Oh absolutely. I look back at some of my work from when I first started hair school and it is downright abysmal in comparison to now. I was very fortunate to know a lot brave people from a pretty wide and colorful spectrum of backgrounds and interests. Meeting these people over the years really helped me out to broaden my skills early in my career because I simply just got more practice. As my skills progressed in school I found myself practicing for hours in my off time on mannequins. That's also where my love of pinup hair started as well. There's not a ton of people that come in and ask for those kind of updos so refining those skills can be a bit tricky.

Alex: Was there ever any doubt about your abilities or the value of it when you were spending all of those off hours practicing?/How did you deal with it if there was?

Nick: I'm not sure that "doubt" is exactly the right word. Hair school is very short in comparison to other more traditional types of school and there is SO much that you have to learn and cram into that time limit. A lot of people drop out because there's a pretty common misconception about hair school being an easier route and statistically about 70% of the people that do make it through school and get licensed stop doing hair within 2 years behind the chair professionally. It's a rigorous start to a profession and its certainly not easy. I absolutely had times where I got frustrated or discouraged because to put it plainly, there's just a shitload of challenging things crammed into a very short time and when you take it upon yourself to learn more advanced technique from an earlier stage it can be quite maddening because your muscle memory and dexterity aren't developed yet. On top of that, this is a very personal and social profession so those skills have to be refined as well. It sounds corny, but you really have to believe in yourself. Despite setbacks and struggles, you have to have almost an inhuman belief and confidence that you are in fact, gonna make it. Sometimes you gotta go in the back or the bathroom, take some deep breaths, wipe your eyes a little bit, and say to yourself, "Let's get this goddamn bread."

Alex: And now look at you, hauling in the loafs! So once you were set on your hair warpath any mess ups were just going to have to be hard lessons because you we're doing it regardless. Did you ever have any particularly bad cuts or experiences that you learned a lot from?

Nick: Oh yeah. Plenty. The first time I attempted a razor faded pompadour, it was for a mini barber competition we had at school. The competition was to see who could most accurately do one of the Schorem (a now famous barbershop in Rotterdam and a crucial part of my hair refining) signature cuts. I chose one of, if not the most difficult one. It was awful. Another one was for the Roger's hair show. I REALLY wanted do a seafoam green themed pinup do. My friend Ariana (who is now also a pretty great hairstylist with similar vision) drove all the way up from Tupelo, Mississippi to be my model. I hadn't gotten to the color portion of school yet, much less done a very advanced color like that. I spent literally all day trying to achieve that that color and still didn't quite pull it off. That was a serious reality check.

Alex: Oooff I imagine the pain when she had to make that drive was very real, damn. But that reality check ended up helping to create one of the most talented barbers in the city (and I imagine was part of the drive on all those extra hours practicing).

Nick: Man, she was a great sport about it, although she'll never let me forget it lol. That kind of patience, dedication, and perseverance is gonna make her one hell of a stylist one day.

Alex: I hope so! Okay last question, what advice would you give for someone starting out in the hair world, perhaps getting ready to face the rigours of hair school?

Nick: I'd say the biggest thing I'd recommend doing is invest in some if your own education. They teach you the basics in hair school, but to further yourself as a stylist or barber, there are resources you can utilize for specialization. Spend the money to go to hair shows, buy hair videos, and watch a shitload of YouTube. I promise it'll pay off. And post your work. More people will see it and want to come to you.

“It sounds corny, but you really have to believe in yourself. Despite setbacks and struggles, you have to have almost an inhuman belief and confidence that you are in fact, gonna make it.” Maybe an inhuman belief and confidence is what I need most. Pursuing a freelance career is full of extremely hard times. Times when I had to say no to hanging out with friends or doing things I’d like to do so I can do what I have to do. Times when it seems like everything I do is worth less than trash. Times when I’m paralyzed by the question of whether I’m wasting my life on dreams that will never turn into anything, and would be better off putting on a tie (or throwing on a safety vest) and getting to work in a nice stable job with health insurance, and plenty of money to take enough time away so that I don’t end it all on my way in.

But I can’t.

So I think again to Nick’s confidence on those hard days, and look at all that time he spent educating himself and practicing well beyond what he had to. Maybe some of us are born with that natural confidence that makes it so those sort of questions and doubts are just never the dominating forces in their lives. But for the rest of us, maybe we’d be well advised to take Nick’s advice. Invest in yourself. Invest in your own education. Invest your time. Invest your money. Invest your energy. And share what you can, even if it’s scary, even if you’re not sure. Then maybe if I do all of that, one day, I too will see it pay off.

Wishing you much love and big bread days to come,

Alex Earnest.

PS. Here’s a bonus bit of fashion advice from Nick:

Alex: What's a hairstyle that you wanna see go away, and what's one you either wanna see become big or you are seeing blow up?

Nick: I'd like to see the chunky played out, late 90's/early 00's highlights with a middle part go away. You look like a low budget Avril Lavigne. I do see a lot of updated, heavily textured mullets, shags, and crops coming back. The Brits have been doing all of those things for a while, but they're getting popular in the U.S. as of late and I'm all the way here for it.

Long live the mullet! Check out Nick’s haircuts at - https://www.instagram.com/nickbiggs_art/?hl=en

Lesson Learned 2 - Shane Klos “It’s Scary, but amazing!”

Links to Shane’s DQYD episodes (including the very first DQYD podcast!!!!): https://dqydpodcast.com/episodes/2018/2/19/episode-100-with-tattoo-artists-addison-edge-shane-klos


Hello daydreamers this week (or more honestly two hours after I interviewed Logan) I talked to Tattoo Artist/DJ/Producer/Skateboarder/Painter/Taxidermist/one half of one of Evansville’s favorite couples/basically anything he gets a strong enough impulse to do - Shane Klos!

Shane is another one of my good friends that has a lot of exciting things going on currently (pre-order Witches Among Us here!). But there’d be no way for me to talk about Shane without acknowledging that Shane is someone I look up to a lot, particularly artistically. If you didn’t notice by all the slashes up there, Shane is one of the most creatively active people I’ve ever met. Even for someone like me with a fair amount of my own slashes (fiction writer/poet/standup comedian/screenwriter/non-fiction writer/almost director/life-coach/halo trick jumper), his sheer quantity and variety of work is jaw dropping. What’s even more impressive is the relative nonchalance he has about the whole thing. Where I’m constantly struggling with massive anxiety and perfectionism (and more than my fair share of ego), Shane makes things because he thinks they’re cool, and they always turn out cool for it. And it’s this Zen* type attitude of trust in his own taste that I think really makes all of his slashes so impressive.

*Alex’s note: Shane would be more likely to call himself Nihilist then Zen.

Alex: Alright so to start can you do a very brief introduction on who you are, and what you do?

Shane: I'm Rick Harrison, and this is my pawn shop. I work here with my old man and my son, Big Hoss. Everything in here has a story and a price. One thing I've learned after 21 years – you never know WHAT is gonna come through that door.

Alex: Lmao

Shane: haha okay for real.

Name: Shane Klos

The year: 2019

Age: 29 years old

I’m a Tattooer, Musician, and Skateboarder.

Alex: Obviously you're very diverse in your skill range, have you always been interested in doing a lot of things or was that something that developed over time?

Shane: I’m not good at being still. I’m very curious about pretty much everything, and I get bored very easily. I guess it started as a kid. I remember sitting in my room and taking toys apart and putting them back together just to see how they worked. And I could just get lost for hours exercising my mind. Not much has changed. I’m still curious and seeking out new things to learn and explore.

Alex: Lately I've been seeing you post a lot about your Golden Corpse project is that where you would say that's where your focus is at the moment?

Shane: Yes. Tattooing is my main squeeze, but I’ve really been getting off making music lately and its helped create new ideas in my tattoo career as well.

Alex: I imagine it's gotta help keep that creative spark fresh constantly having new mediums to work in. I remember one time you telling me about purposely taking different roads to get to work so that you would have to pay attention and stay awake, do you feel like working in the different mediums gives you the same sort of thing artistically?

Shane: Definitely! I've always needed to have multiple things on my plate to get inspired or progress. If I only have one thing to focus on I get bored and stagnant.

Alex: Has there ever been a time when you overloaded yourself with stuff and had to drop something?

Shane: Yeah when I coordinated the River City Tattoo Expo 2017. That year was a blur. Micromanagement at its finest.*

*Alex’s Note: He for real basically disappeared for almost half a year.

Alex: Was there a point during that time when you were stressed out and saw what was happening? Or was it like one day you were suddenly in over your head?

Shane: I feel like I’m usually decent at keeping a good perspective about situations. There were a lot of times where I felt in over my head, but at the same time I could see they were “Growing Pains.” Learning new skills and taking risks is not always immediately rewarding.

Alex: That's very true. So I was trying to find a smooth way to ask you about how you feel you handle failures, most people struggle with doing so many things because they're scared of being bad at them, but on the surface you seem to have no issue with this.

Shane: Oh no, I struggle with it for sure. I just try not to dwell on it and keep moving forward. Gotta keep going. Dwelling on failures is a waste of time. Learn from it and make a new move.

Alex: That's heartening to hear for all of us out there who have a big variety of interests that we aren't pursuing. So heading into the new year, what would you say has been the biggest lessons that have helped shape the new directions you're exploring?

Shane: Just keep trying new things! If you are interested in it, dip your toe in the water and see what its about. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s scary, but amazing!

And maybe that’s the the difference between my slashes and Shane’s.Where I get so focused on how scary it is, how uncertain I am, how vulnerable I feel, Shane never loses sight of how amazing it is to be alive and creating. Where most people dwell on their failures (or dwell on their fear of what if they failed), Shane learns from it and moves on. Imagine for a moment what your life could look like if you just tried everything you ever dreamt of doing. Tried without worrying about whether you were good or bad, or if it would make money, or if anyone would care. How proud would you be ten years from now telling your kids, or spouse, or family, or friends, about that time you directed a movie, or were in a freestyle rap battle, or danced on stage, or whatever your heart calls for it to be? And if just for a moment you can capture that image in your mind and start to really feel it, then maybe you’ll have learned a lesson about just how amazing life can be once you get past how scared you were to start.

Wishing you luck, love, and most of all, courage to try,

Alex Earnest.

Lesson Learned 1 - Logan Owen “You Suck.”

Hello daydreamers and welcome to my new article series Lesson Learned. In this series I’ll be interviewing previous DQYD guests to both catch up with them about what they’re up to now, and to talk about various things they’ve struggled with in their journey and how they’ve learned and grown from them. My dream for this article series is to create a space for people to talk about the not as glamorous side of their journey’s - the struggles, the doubt, the dirt, and how they learned from these struggles. I believe that without our trials we are never forced to grow and adapt, and my hope is that by creating a space for people to share their struggles that other people facing similar adversity can find hope and direction in their own journeys. So with that being said onto our first article starring Logan Owen!

Link to Logan’s DQYD episode: https://dqydpodcast.com/episodes/2017/1/2/episode-41-with-electronic-musician-logan-owen

Hello Daydreamers, this week we’re going to be learning from musician, producer, DJ, and low-key fashion icon to be, Logan Owen. He’s one half of the musical duo Suncoast Ultra, and currently working under a new brand and vibe called LØWLIFR.

To be totally upfront with you all I chose Logan for the first article because he’s one of my good friends, and I knew he was working on new exciting stuff and had in way’s sort of took an evolutionary leap recently which I was hoping to extract some of the wisdom from. But also mostly because I was ridiculously anxious about figuring out how all of this works and I knew he’d be willing to work with me/wouldn’t care if I made a mess of the whole thing. Coming into the interview I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but no real concept of how it would play out. And as soon as we started the interview I quickly realized this was going to be much much harder than I thought.

Alex: ‘I guess to start with we’ll do a quick recap of who you are and what you do.’

Logan: ‘I am Logan Owen, I produce music and DJ.’

Alex: ‘I know you’ve been working on some new stuff, is it with Suncoast or a solo project?’

Logan: ‘It’s kinda weird because Shane and I just made a new song a couple weeks ago together and talked about doing an album, but mostly I’m currently rebranding under a new moniker and vibe. The project is called LØWLIFR.’

Alex: ‘Awesome. So I know you’ve been working with Shane Klos and Josh Gard a lot recently. How has working with them helped you to explore this new solo direction for yourself?’

Logan: ‘They have helped me a ton. Shane has helped me with engineering and production tips. I’ll hit him up at anytime and he’s always down to help. Josh has basically just been moral support but I’ve just been silently taking pointers from him as far as image, marketing, drawing from influences. We were all hanging out last weekend and josh brought up a very valid point. He said (paraphrasing of course) “take your influences and pull from their influences” so I would describe what I have been making to be dark trap/wave music. So instead of pulling from trap edm, pull from the guys that created that dirty south hip hop sound. So lately I’ve been pulling from Three 6 Mafia, and Chopped and Screwed from Houston.

Alex: ‘Interesting, so would you say the idea of following that influence has helped you to be more original or more yourself?’

Logan: ‘Most definitely, I feel like it’s easier to pull from a second tier of influence so you don’t sound exactly like your immediate influencer. If that makes any sense.’

Alex: ‘Absolutely, it seems like it would give you more creative freedom by lowering the pressure to sound like what everyone else in your genre sounds like. But now I want to shift to what are some things you’ve failed/struggled with in previous bands and projects?

Logan: ‘Let’s see. I would say forming a group of more than two people has never worked for me. I grew up playing in bands someone always gets left out of the creative process, or you basically become a musician for hire to play songs written by one person. I did that for several years and sometimes it’s great but most of the time it’s frustrating. I think that it works for Shane and I because there is only two of us and we aren’t battling for creative input. We seriously sit at a computer together until we create something. So it’s great to have someone to bounce ideas off of but personally, in a band situation, there are too many cooks in the kitchen.’

Also I have one song that I absolutely love but due to my incapabilities as an engineer, I can’t make it sound as good as it can be. I don’t know if I have too much going on or if it’s too much to eq or whatever. I can’t release it. And it’s super frustrating but that song in particular has taught me humility and patience in a weird, self destructive way.

Alex: ‘How long have you been working on that song for?’

Logan: ‘Well I wrote it about six months ago. And every time I try to fix it, it just ends up sounding worse so I’ve taken some time from it. And now it doesn’t really have the same sound as I’m going for now, so I think I’m just going to leave it be. I might rework it in the future or take stems from it but I know when to put an old dog down.’

Alex: ‘I feel you, I've had stories that I worked and worked and worked and just never seemed to be able to take to that place they needed to go. It sounds like you're handling it well though, has struggling with it hurt your motivation or confidence at all?’

Logan: ‘It hurt my confidence a little because I knew it was a good song, but I was able to move away from it pretty quickly. I just kinda put blinders on and kept trucking.’

Alex: ‘That’s good! In a way do you feel like having to kill your baby showed some increase in maturity, and have you seen the effects of that carry forward into your new project?’

Logan: ‘Yeah honestly it kinda shaped my sound now. That song was very maximalist and basically a wall of sound. I was into that style for a while then realized creating it would just be a headache and almost become a chore. So I went back to my influences and realized that I can just enjoy a style of music without creating it. And honestly with my previous sound, even with everything going on, there wasn’t much room to breathe or for certain elements to stand out. But with this new sound I feel like the ideas I can put out can be more multifaceted than before.’

Alex: ‘It seems that as you've matured in your own creative process you've also matured in the way you work with others. I know you and Shane have a particularly collaborative relationship but tell me about a band or partnership that didn't work out at all.’

Logan: ‘I’ve started bands with my best friends in the entire world and it doesn’t work out. When you depend on four other people to be there to make music it’s incredibly hard to coordinate schedules and agendas. Hell, I’ve been the guy that’s been difficult to get on a spot once a week. Also some people just don’t work well together as artists, and that’s perfectly fine. Shane and I work well together and that’s a rare thing for both of us I think. I’ve even worked with other producers and it doesn’t work out. I think the key is to have a very vague but firm concept of what is wanted to be created and then having the ability to say that you like a contribution or not.’

Alex: ‘I think it's important you mentioned the ability to be honest about liking it or not, in a lot of group projects people don't feel like they can all contribute equally or voice their opinion so it's cool that you two are capable of being so honest with each other. In the future do you think getting to work with other people (even if you’re doing mostly solo stuff) will be a core part of your process or do you feel like you're pretty equally content working solo or with someone?’

Logan: ‘I would say I would be open to it, but I’ve been playing music for over 12 years. So I’ve become very knowledgeable of my weaknesses and strengths so I feel like if I can actually see that collaborative relationship would be beneficial to both of us, then I would be down. But for now I’m cool with going dolo.’

{Alex’s note - Logan didn’t link the song I just wanted to shout out Kid Cudi}

Alex: ‘Awesome, well thank you for hanging in there with me I know this has been scattered, but I have one more question for you. WIth all these lessons you have learned, if you had one message you could give a young aspiring musician what would it be?’

Logan: ‘You are going to suck for a while. And I think it’s a positive thing to think that you are not good to use as a motivator. Also don’t be afraid to make what you want instead of what’s popular. It’s better to make a trend than to follow one.’

After this we said our thanks and I let him go back into the world for a cigarette (it’s part of the aesthetic). Throughout the interview I struggled with a feeling of awkwardness over the formatting of how to ask the questions and what to ask. You can see moments where Logan left cues for things I could have explored that I abandoned in favor of pursuing my own objectives and conversational threads. And even writing these words right now (and these words (and these (etc (etc)))) I find myself struggling over desires to be profound and helpful, anxieties over being narcissistic and not showing my friend in his best light possible. But in the most beautiful of all ironies the very wisdom that I need the most in starting off my own new venture is already here. “You are going to suck for a while.” Profound advice for all of us trying to push ourselves into new arena’s that we may have little to no experience in. Perhaps this is me sucking right now, and that’s okay, because if I never let myself suck then I also will never let myself grow.

So thank you Logan for the wisdom, and thank you for letting me suck with you. And to all you that have stuck with me this far; good luck, much love, and don’t ever quit your daydream!

Quote of the week: “Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” - Jake the Dog from Adventure Time.