“I am not the romantic type”
The tattoo wearing, big bearded model from Belgium went from taking amateur pics on his Instagram to being discovered and taking his craft professionally. With just under two years, his Instagram followers went from a couple of hundreds to the tens of thousands. I sat down with the Model maven to find out how he established such a large following, and to give us his insights on the modeling industry. It’s time to focus, capture, and develop.
514: How long have you been in Montreal?
WS: I’ve been here since I was four years old.
514: What area did you grow up in?
WS: I grew up in Laval.
514: Are you sign to an Agency right now?
WS: Right now I am just a freelance model doing my own thing.
514: Was modeling something you always wanted to do or did it just happen randomly?
WS: A random guy named Shawn Bennett who used to work for a studio downtown messaged me on Instagram. He told me that he liked my style and that I reminded him of Ricky Hall. At that point in my life I had just quit my job at the train tracks, and I sold my home that I purchased when I was 18 years old. So I was trying new things.
514: How did you afford to purchase a home at 18 years old?
WS: I had a different lifestyle back then, I use to work a lot and I quit school at 16 years old. I saved up a little bit of money, and my grandfather back in Belgium started an account for me when I was born, and I was allowed to get the money when I turn 18 years old.
514: What made you want to invest your money in a home at 18 years old when the majority of kids at that age would of spent the money on clothes and cars.
WS: It’s good to make these moves when you’re young, but not all the time. It’s a lot of responsibilities for a 18 year old kid.
514: Do you believe that modeling is Art?
WS: (Laughs) well in some way, I do not consider myself an artist but the image that I create is art. If you’re doing a catalog that is not Art that is marketing, but if you do a photo shoot with different models and there is costumes and decors involve that is Art.
514: Is modeling a flattering job?
WS: Well let’s be honest, you are getting paid to look good so it’s very flattering and it boosts your self-esteem really high. But I just started modeling for the fun of it, and everyone was telling me that I was good at it so I started getting good reaction and I started to believe in it.
514: Is there big bucks in modeling?
WS: Oh yeah for sure, especially right now with social media you see a lot of people doing modeling and trying to establish a large following because you get paid more if more people start following you.
514: If you had a big opportunity to advance your career, would you relocate back to Europe?
WS: I am not really a fan of Europe, I really like the South of Spain and Italy because it’s beautiful, but for the purpose of the business I would go. I want to make it as far as I can, I am passionate about it.
514: If someone does not get discovered like you, what is the proper procedure to get into the modeling scene?
WS: You need to build up your portfolio and start going to different agencies, but now with social media I think five years from now, even if you are 5 foot 8 you could still get a shot at becoming a model based upon your following. The game really has changed.
514: Can you tell by looking at one picture if a person has the potential to become a model?
WS: I would say no because there are two types of photographers, there’s one photographer that just works one picture and takes a couple of shots, and then there’s the photographer that takes 200 shots for that same picture and eventually he will get the shot that he is looking for.
514: How did you establish such a large following on Social Media?
WS: It definitely started by taking nice pictures, but at one point there was a big trend on beards and I got posted on different beard pages, fashion pages, and tattoo pages, and that got me a lot of followers.
514: Because you are a freelance model how do you generate gigs for yourself?
WS: Well Social media is really magical, a lot of the times photographers post on Facebook that they are looking for a model to do a shoot, and I get tag in the post and that brings me gigs. I am into different Facebook groups for modeling. So yeah, definitely you have to work for it so I am consistently out getting it.
514: Would you do a photo shoot for free at this point of your Career?
WS: For a Company, No. For the simple fact that if they are getting money from the photo shoots I need to get paid also. It’s just business. But if a photographer is doing a shoot just to post pictures on Instagram I would do it for free to keep my Instagram active.
514: If a photographer gets a picture of you publish somewhere do you get paid or is it his picture because its his camera?
WS: If you do not sign any contracts then both parties have rights on it. If he takes my pictures for free and sell my pictures to a big brand I definitely have rights on it
514: If you had the power to change one thing about the modeling industry what would it be?
WS: A lot of people are willing to invest hundreds of dollars into a photographer, and the costumes, and make up, and then when it comes to the model they tell you that it’s good visibility for you. Well good visibility does not pay the bills. And also it’s about getting the right credits, I have done shoots for brands and they did not give me the proper credits and they did not tag me in the pictures. Also if one day I become really successful I would definitely work for the rookies in the game.
514: How do you define success?
WS: That is a really good question, right now we live in a society that is defined by your wallet. I used to work at a job that I was making a lot of money, and I had a brand new car, a house I had all the things that people define success as. But I was not happy doing that job, so to me that is not success. To me once you get the money and you are happy doing what you love then that is success.
514: What if you don’t make a lot of money, can you still find success?
WS: I have a friend, that’s not making a lot of money and he has a daughter and a girl that he loves and he has a good family. And when I was making a lot of money, he was telling me that I have a dream life. But in reality he has the dream life because he has people that he loves and loves him back, to me that’s success.
514: Are you doing it for the money or the fame?
WS: I am doing it because I can, for sure you need money in life. But I stopped a very lucrative job for this, I am doing it because right now it’s working for me. The fame is nice, but you have to be able to help people along the way. If you do not use your fame for anything in life then you are just empty and living for yourself. The only thing I like about money is spending it with people.
514: Is it easy to be in a relationship when you are considered to be a sex symbol?
WS: It is definitely not easy. I am in a relationship and for sure it brings more jealousy than having a regular 9 — 5 job because of all the girls that starts following you. Also you start receiving messages from girls, but at the end its all about being honest and being very transparent.
514: How long have you been with your girlfriend now?
WS: Just about 2 years.
514: You’re now in the conversation of marriage status?
WS: (Laughs) just being in a relationship is not easy when you are doing this type of job.
514: When you are spending quality time with your girlfriend, are you the Netflix and chill type of person, or get out of the house and party type of person?
WS: I am definitely the more fun night out. I like to be everywhere. I like to move and travel different places. I like to get into my low rider car and just cruise around town in it. I am just a very sociable type of person.
514: Are you a romantic person?
WS: I am not the romantic type.
514: So you’re definitely not thinking of picking up flowers?
WS: Yeah! It’s really rare, but I like going places like Laser Quest that is really fun to me. I like go-karting but my girlfriend hates it, and I also like quiet places like shisha bars.
514: Who is your celebrity crush?
WS: There is a lot (Laughs). I really like Jennifer Lopez.
514: Is it the body or the face?
WS: Just everything about her.
514: So you’re into cougars?
WS: (Laughs) I do not know, I just like her a lot especially her body, she looks hot for her age.
514: Who are you listening to musically right now?
WS: Well my favorite Artist is Ray Charles, so I always listen to him a lot. I also listen to a lot of rap, I really like Chance the Rapper, it’s a lot of happy rap with a good message and also Nipsey Hussle.
514: What is it about Nipsey Hussle do you like?
WS: He talks about the real stuff and the street stuff but he is not encouraging it. I just like how he started in the game and everyone was trying to sign him but he told them all no because he believed in himself. I love his different marketing strategies and how he sold the Crenshaw album for $100 dollars.
514: Since you travel a lot, where is one destination you enjoy the most?
WS: I love L.A Everything about L.A is cool. I love the surfing California vibe, mix with the tattoo scene and the low riders.
514: When you’re not working, what do you like to do on your spare time?
WS: During the winter I party way to much because I’m bored. During the summer I drive a lot in my low rider, I have a 1966 Chevy Impala convertible.
514: Out of all the tattoos that you have on your body which one means the most to you?
WS: Definitely, the Ray Charles piece that I have on my ribs. I had to wait on a waiting list for 10 months for my favorite tattoo artist to do it.
514: Is having tattoos a big commodity in the modeling industry?
WS: It’s definitely hard. In the street fashion for sure they look for tattoo models. It’s getting better as more fashion brands are starting to accept that. But for the high end fashions like Gucci, Prada, Hugo Boss you do not see tattoo models. Diesel brand had a couple of tattoo models but that is not considered high end.
514: Did you know that tattoos weren’t accepted in high end fashion brands before you got all those tattoos on your body?
WS: No I didn’t know.
514: So what’s the end goal for you right now?
WS: I wanted to go to the level of high end, but you have to be a realest in life and don’t loose your time on something. So I’m not looking for the high end fashion anymore. I had some contacts with Hugo boss Canada, but even with a suit on it’s your social media and your whole life that becomes the image of the Company. But the goal right now is to do more travel contracts.
514: What advice would you give to another aspiring model?
WS: Just be humble and accept criticism, keep pushing and take a lot of pictures.
WS: (Laughs) that is a tricky question. I think there are some people who really have that problem, but from my experience I would say that the times it has happen to me it was a compliment. First the body is configured to ejaculate in a minute; even with animals you can see they do not have sex for a long time. It’s usually quick, so when you can’t control it its because your super turned on which is a compliment.
Photo Credit: @gcastrophotographe
Written By: Vlad Pierre
Edited By: Yvonne Sam