Have you ever found yourself wandering through town, caught site of someone and thought to yourself 'damn, that guy looks cool'? If you happened to be in Huddersfield or the surrounding area at the time, chances are you saw today's interviewee...FYI, according to EVERYONE who has worked with him, he totally lives up to it! Today I'm interviewing Pip The Gentleman, a fantastic model based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
|Photographer: Andy Park|
Hi Pip, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me.
According to your Purpleport portfolio you've only been modelling for around a year now, which looking at the quantity and quality of your work doesn't show. Which leads me to my first question...how did you get into the world of modelling?
"I fell into modelling by accident really. At 48 I took voluntary redundancy from my job with Calderdale council managing the homeless services. I went back to university to do a degree in social work. One day while heading to the library two fashion students stopped me in my tracks and persuaded me to model for them as part of their course work, they were putting together a magazine for the older gentleman and likes my style. At first I thought it was a joke but they managed to persuade me with lunch and a new experience. The images I received back were good, I put them to one side and forgot about them. January last year I ended up in hospital for 5 weeks and was very poorly I had a infected gallbladder and liver it took me a while to recover. I made the decision to put my studies on hold until I got better. My tutor asked me what I was going to do until September and suggested doing some more modelling as she had seen the images from my shoot and thought they were good. That night I went home and joined a few Facebook groups asking if any photographers would like to work with me. The response was phenomenal and I worked with some great photographers. I then joined some agencies and things have gone from strength to strength."
|Photographer: Flash Bang Wallop|
Normally at this point in the interview I'd speak to you about genres and styles, about how they can divide the opinions of people whom view the work. From what I've seen of the reception to your work, this isn't the case. The general consensus with your work is that your style is 'cool'. Is this something that comes naturally to you or have you had to work at it?
"I would say that it has come naturally to me as I am just being myself. If that is cool then that is a compliment."
|Photographer: Drew Paul. Taken At: Virtuosity Studios.|
Also regarding your style, people can be very quick to judge, often doing so by first appearances. There can also be a weird disconnect where people think something is cool in an image but not in 'real life'. When you're out and about how do you find your style is received by the 'general public'? And how does this reaction compare to that you've received in response to your work?
"I find that when I am out and about I get a similar response from the public. Some like the way I dress some like my tattoos and some like the beard and moustache. While in the United Arab Emirates recently I was approached frequently by people of different cultures Arabs, Indians, Phillapinos to have my photo taken with them."
|Photographer: Andy Park|
If you were to ask the average person what came to mind if you mentioned modelling, I suspect the majority would say young and female...that's even avoiding readers of The Sun and former FHM readers. Have you found that as a 51 year old male your age and/or gender has held you back or caused you issues with your modelling?
"I would say my age and gender have actually been a positive as over the last 12 months the fashion industry have embraced grey mature models. My tattoos however have lost me a modelling job with Barclays Bank when they found out the amount of tattoos I had they withdrew their interest."
Having followed you on Instagram for some time now I've been watching your gym progress. Recently there seems to have been an increase in the number of posts from models posting about their gym time, and how it's helping/going to help their modelling. Was your decision to change your diet and hit the gym due to modelling? And how's it going?
"I think hitting the gym was a natural progression as I had since starting university joined the cycling club and began to loose weight that way. I wanted to turn my fitness around so followed the advice given by a fitness model Daniel James regarding diet and gym work. I suppose sub consciously it had something to do with the modelling. It has given me confidence."
Speaking of your Instagram, if anyone has seen your feed, or any image of you for matter, they'll have seen you have a couple of tattoos...How many do you have? How do you decide what to get? And do you have a favourite?
"I am pretty much covered apart from my neck and face. My tattoos started when I was 25 and has been a long term project. I would say my sleeve on my left arm is my favourite. I have a theme running through my body land sea and the underworld."
|Photographer: Image-UK. Other Model: Lily Marion|
In my series 'Foto Inspiration Friday' I share the people, images, places etc that I find give me inspiration. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
"I draw my inspiration through cycling in the hills of Yorkshire and while out walking the dogs. I am a big fan of Pinterest and will back up my ideas using that."
Sometimes images hold a special significance to us. It can be the first image we ever made, it can be an image drawing attention to a cause close to our hearts, it can simply be an image of someone we love. Do you have any images that hold a special significance to you?
"I have a photograph done in sepia of my granddad when he was a desert rat during ww2 this is in a frame and has always been with me."
Photoshoots can sometimes leave you open to scary or funny situations. What's the scariest or funniest situation you've found yourself in on a shoot?
"I think my first shoot working with a female model was very scary it didn't go very well as we never connected and it knocked my confidence a wee bit, however my next shoot was with Dee Delahunty and we connected immediately and had a brilliant shoot."
|Photographer: Flash Bang Wallop|
We've talked about your start, we've talked about your present, let's quickly chat about your future. What have you got coming up this year, more of the same? any special projects? And in regards to a more long term plan, where are you hoping your creative journey will take you in the years to come?
"I have two cat walks coming up in the next few months Sexhibition and the Belfast alternative fashion show. As for the future I will just go with the flow. I enjoy modelling and working with creative people whether there is money exchanged or it is a collaboration."
When I speak to photographers I ask about their gear, it's only fair you get to geek out too...do you have any go to items you can't live without?
"My cycle, my tweed suits and my family."
Now for the shameless self promotion part of the interview...where can people find you and your work?
"Purpleport - http://purpleport.com/portfolio/pipthegentleman
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/Pipsphatkins
Instagram - pip_s_atkins_the_gentleman"
I'd like to thank Pip again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. Be sure to check out all of the links for more of his work, and the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved.