Adrian Rotolo, 2016 Hair Expo Colour Technician of the Year and Technical Director/Education of IBIZA HAIR, has shown to the industry that he is an expert in his field. More than that, he is a teacher, a student, and an artist at all times. Constantly perfecting his craft, looking for inspiration, and learning techniques from other masters in the industry. You can take a peek at Adrian’s work and instinctively feel his sixth sense for color theory and application. Learn more about Adrian’s inspirations and how he’s pushed himself to become of of the best colorists around…
What drew you to hair styling?
When I was growing up, I was a dancer, attending an arts focused high school in Adelaide. I tried out some visual arts and found I was really interested in painting and colour. A family friend owned a hairdressing salon called Yellow Strawberry and they were a colour specialist salon, specializing in French Balayage techniques at a time when balayage was almost forgotten about – (mid-2000s). I quickly developed a talent for the technique and mastered it.
What is your favorite technique to use?
I trained with L’Oréal Professionnel, completing every colour course I possibly could, whilst learning from the best. Throughout my apprenticeship, I began following the work of celebrity colourist Johnny Ramirez owner of Los Angeles salon, Ramirez Tran, and I visited the salon in 2010. I really admired his "lived in" approach to colour work using old fashioned balayage techniques combined with modern era foiling, so I adopted this approach to colouring hair, and eventually discovered, by mistake (the best way to learn anything) a technique along the way, which I myself called 'Brushlighting'. Brushlighting combines fine weaved face-framing highlights with balayage but instead of using a traditional board and tint brush, I use a Tangle Teezer brush to create the soft sunkissed glow seen on celebrities such as Giselle.
What has been your biggest defining moment in your career?
I teamed up with close friend (or brother from another mother as we say) Michael Piastrino in 2008 and grew Ibiza hair together as a business. I was focused on colour work while Michael focused on his flawless haircutting and styling skills.
In 2016, this partnership has helped me to achieve and win the prestigious title of 2016 Hair Expo 'Colour Technician of the Year’, after previously being a finalist. The biggest moment in my career to date!
Is there a specific area you often find yourself looking to for inspiration?
Inspiration can arise from so many different places, but for me lately it’s been my nieces and nephews! My 5-year-old niece has the most beautiful hair colour I have ever seen. Natural chestnut with sun-kissed highlights! I noticed the way her hair would reflect in the sunlight. I want to create that exact look for my clients. That is the colour I look for when I'm about to rinse my colours after processing.
What is your biggest accomplishment so far in your career?
There’s been a few really fantastic moments along the way, however as said, winning the 2016 Hair Expo Colour Technician of the Year title has really impacted my career and the work I do.
What is the one product/tool that you can’t live without?
It’s too hard to choose just one! I have three main tools I can’t start a day without, if I don’t have them!
1) My Tangle Teezer brush. I have had the same fusion one since 2005! Eventually they stopped producing them, so years ago I ordered about 10 of them and still swear by them to this day.
2) The L’Oréal 'brush tip'. A more recent acquisition, I was one of the first in Australia to thankfully be given this amazing tool. Not officially launched until Janurary next year so can't say too much, but it’s the best tool invented for colourists in a very long time.
3) L’Oréal Professionnel Majimeche. I have been using this product religiously since I started colouring 12 years ago. The best product to create sun-kissed highlights. I've constantly been approached by other colour companies over the years to try other, newer products, but nothing compares to this. At Ibiza, we have a year’s supply at all times!
Do you have a favorite collection?
The ‘Passione’ collection created by Michael and myself for the 2016 Hair Expo awards will always be a favourite as it was the winning collection for Colour Tech of the Year for me.
Other collections belong to people I admire - 'Masterpiece' by fellow Australian and L’Oréal Professionnel ambassador, Caterina DiBiase will always stick out in my mind as my favourite. Renaissance art meets modern punk. The colour work in this collection inspires me.
Caterina is a huge icon for me in the industry. Not only for her impeccable, timeless styling and colour work but her business prowess. I'm looking forward to sharing the stage with her, Frank Apostolopoulos and Michael Piastrino at Open Mic Melbourne in November.
How did you work with your makeup/styling team to craft the final image?
For the Passione collection shoot, it was a combined effort between photographer Andrew O'Toole, makeup artist Kylie O’Toole, and hairstylist Michael Piastrino, we had many pre-shoot meetings to express our vision.
We wanted the models to be photographed cropped in, to highlight the intricacies in the colour and the texture of the cuts, yet still engage with the viewer.
The backdrop is to be dark, in keeping with the overall feeling of a futuristic theme that was also quite sensual and sexy. The backdrop is not to detract from the beauty and hair of each model but more so to enhance it.
We wanted our styling to be luxe and beautiful. We wanted the chosen pieces to reflect a feminine vibe, yet still have an element of toughness and a mild flamboyance to them. We chose black for sophistication and a beautiful way to offset our work.
Makeup was to be kept very natural, with dewy skin. There was subtle smokiness and metallics for the eyes and just enough to really enhance the beauty of each individual model yet not detract from the hair colour, style and texture.
How did decide on the color/cut concept?
Drawing inspiration from a 2013 Japan trip, visiting the Kyoto gardens I wanted to create a collection based on the colours of the flowers I had seen. During our meetings, I would show all the photos I took during the visit. We instantly came up with the entire concept for the collaboration. I couldn't be happier with the end result.
Pastels in pinks, muted blues and steel grey, and rose combine with punches of vibrant lilac and fuchsia to create a couture feeling to the collection with a futuristic edge.
What statement are you making with your art?
I want to encourage other hairdressers to discover new ways of looking at and working with colour, and hopefully contribute to the overall progression of colour creativity in our industry.
Hopefully my art is an inspiration to others that motivates new ways of thinking.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Easy - the ability to time travel. I'm a massive fan of the "New Romantics" London underground era of the late 70's, early 80's. I've read a lot about it. Love Boy George, Adam Ant and of course David Bowie! Some of the hair around that time in particular is inspiring me for some upcoming work. Watch this space!
Who were your mentors along the way and how have they shaped your career?
My main mentor would have to be my first employer, Anthony Gosti. He has an incredible eye for detail and produced flawless colour work. He taught me a lot about taking the extra step with your clients. Throughout his training he was known for constantly sending in mystery clients to the salon, to have their colour done then would have them give you feedback once they revealed themselves to be clients sent in by Anthony himself to test your skills. His motto was "you never get a second chance to make a first impression". He would be thrilled to know that it has stuck with me to this day. It has helped me create a solid, loyal client base.
Do you have any advice for novice stylists?
Do not get complacent. It is the worst thing you could do for your career. Every client at a "boutique" salon goes to that particular salon because they know the money they spend there invests in their stylists training. Always take the opportunity to learn new techniques and be open to learning a bit about the business you work in and how it runs. Aim to be a leader in your team. Network with other hairdressers and get your work out there. Give and receive constructive criticism. Be humble, but confident at the same time.
What hair/color trends can we look forward to this Fall/Spring?
We’re definitely heading more towards 100% nude tones, which are currently my favourite colour to do in the salon. It's the blonde that literally suits anyone. Unlike warm, honey blondes or cool pearlish tones, nude falls somewhere in between. There is an equal amount of warmth and coolness that cancels each other out to create beautiful neutral hues.
Neutral tones look great on just about everybody because they are so easy to wear. They can also be easily altered with the right undertone. You can go from neutral to ash to golden and still keep the same level of brightness.