We are thrilled to partner once again with the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) to promote all of the talented artists who are finalists for the 2018 NAHAs (North American Hairstyling Awards), the most prestigious hair and beauty award in the country. In this feature, get to know more about this year's Avant Garde Finalist – Steven Robertson.
Without knowing which NAHA category he wanted to enter, Steven simply relied on his instincts to create his collection. Not only did Steven do a beautiful job of creating floating hair, he photographed the collection as well. Keep reading to know more about Steven as an artist of various mediums.
What was the inspiration behind this collection?
I had this idea of floating hair that I wanted to capture. The shoot was tricky because I didn’t shoot this collection with the intention of entering it in a specific category, although it was intended for a NAHA submission. The first image of the series was really the only clear concept I had, and the others followed suit with this idea of cohesiveness in contemporary shapes with changes in texture. So the collection was built around this inspiration of floating hair, not necessarily a story.
What is your favorite thing about Avant Garde?
I’ve never entered Avant Garde before, partly because it’s such a competitive category and I feel like it’s almost impossible to win! Haha! Really, I felt kind of obligated to enter in to Avant Garde, since the hair is disconnected from the head, it didn’t seem appropriate for other categories. Maybe the Texture category? Since the hair isn’t connected it felt more “wig”ish but I didn’t necessarily feel like it screamed Avant Garde either. I’ve entered and won Salon Team in 2012/2013 as creative director of my previous salon, got nominated for Hairstylist of the Year in 2014. I’ve entered Texture and Haircolor a couple times and haven’t been able to quite figure those 2 out yet. In time!
What did you learn about yourself through creating this collection?
That I should be more prepared. We literally woke up that morning and started to narrow down what the hell we were going to do. All I had prepared was a can of hairspray and bag of extension hair wefts rolled up in orange perm rods that I left out to dry overnight. I didn’t have an exact idea of how I was going to float the hair, but what I had brewed up in my mind made sense enough that I felt like we could get away with it, and if it ended up failing, then we just wouldn’t submit. Preparation makes the most sense here. But then again, doing it this way allowed me to think freely.
What was your biggest challenge?
100% the photography! I’m new to the taking photos business so I really have no idea about lighting. I have to fiddle around with the lights, change the settings on the lights, change settings on the camera, etc. And since I don’t have much education with photography, it’s a matter of changing things around until they look how I visualize them. Time-consuming! But I’m really enjoying it so far.
What other forms of art inspire you?
I love mid-century design, natural landscapes, and lighting in any form. All of those kinds of find their place in various aspects of my life.
How much prep time went into each piece?
Literally the amount of time it took to roll the extensions on perm rods. So, 15 mins? I really do wish I had an elaborate process with this collection, but I just sprinkled hair in the air, hair sprayed it in place and stopped once I was happy with the shape. And if the model moved to quickly, it would all fall to the ground and we’d restart. We shot the 3 pictures over a span of 9am-3: 30 pm and just created as we went.
What was your favorite part of this shoot?
The end results and seeing them completed. The collection was originally shot in color with beautiful blues and golds and it was only a couple days before submitting the images that I decided to see what they’d look like in black and white and I died! It added that surreal touch to the photo. I love surreal anything. Made them worth it!
How did you select your team? Have you worked with them before?
I’ve worked with all of them before. The reason I even shot the collection was that my partner Matthew Sandoval, the creative driver with this collection, told me to. Ha! So thank you to him for lighting the fire to get me to even do it! The makeup artist Barbra Mikkelson has been a long time friend and client and has modeled for me before as well. She has incredible make up talent...with laser sharp eyeliner skills in particular, that I wanted in this shoot. The models I’ve met along the way on random side jobs. And my assistants for the day is my salon assistant Denise Gorst and my dearest friend Maria who just likes to help out and keep the mood light!
Tell us a little more about you, as an artist.
I’ve never considered myself much of an artist. In no other aspect of my life am I creative! I can barely dress myself. I can’t draw or paint in any capacity. I couldn’t decorate a room to save my life. I’m faintly musical and that’s about it. To talk about myself as an artist would be difficult for me to do!
How do you Vegas?
Like a grandpa. My partner Matthew and I are both usually in bed by 9-9: 30 pm. My salon schedule during the workweek is kind of insane and I refuse to not get a full nights rest. So it’s become a bit of a habit to go to bed early. We’re gonna bring the whole team involved down through this time, so it should be a blast! Hairdressers are always a good time in Vegas. Maybe we’ll play some of the craps tables?! Hopefully, celebrate a win?! We’ll see where the night takes us!
Salty or sweet?
Salty. Always salty. Apparently, my mother used to eat table salt out of her hand. I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s the root of my salt cravings.
Stay tuned for even more NAHA inspiration and be sure to stalk Steven Robertson on Bangstyle to see his latest uploads!