As I’ve explained in a previous post, So Why Tattoos, I’ve always been a big fanatic of how tattoos looks on skin. I’ve been working towards covering my own body in tattoos for years now, whilst following other tattooed people and artists on social media. Models like James Edward Quintance III doing his (really handsome and dreamy) thing on the runway for Vivienne Westwood, DKNY and Pringle of Scotland amongst others gives me hope. He’s landed jobs with big names like Goldwell, his face gracing magazines that include GQ and Nylon. He’s got an extremely impressive portfolio, having worked with rock n roll queen Kate Moss- if that’s not going places I don’t know what is.
Jimmy is one of a few very popular names in both the fashion industry and the tattoo community. Stephen James, Alysha Nett and Bud Brennan Williams are all good examples of how being heavily tattooed should not stand in your way of following your dreams of becoming a model. I had a chat with South Africa’s own tattooed beardo, Brett Rogers. His cool and calm demeanour plus charismatic laughter set me at ease when I first met him, he also proved that not all heavily tattooed people are scary or intimidating. Brett has done work both locally and internationally, having big brands featured in his impressive portfolio. He also presents a TV show that airs internationally called Food, Booze and Tattoos. On top of that, Brett also has a clothing line, Half Wolf, that is well known and often worn in Joburg.
TPE– In this article I’m talking about the evolution of heavily tattooed people, especially in the fashion and modelling industry- both in which you are successful. Thanks for taking the time to go through these questions with me. Firstly, How long have you been in the modelling industry?
BRR– I have been in the modelling industry for exactly half my life, 18 years.
Brett mentions that he is very happily signed with ICE Models, and we start talking about some of the campaigns he has landed.
TPE– What was your ‘Aha!’ moment with regards to modelling?
BRR– I guess that was after the first Sergeant Pepper campaign. Suddenly I got a lot of attention and work. Luckily what worked was me- not just some idea of me. So I learned to just be me and fuck what anyone else wants. It has definitely held me back in some ways, but made me happier in the long run.
TPE– So the tattoos only came later on into your career as a working model?
BRR– Yeah. It was only after the tattoos and the beard that I started working really. Also, it reminded me of something someone told me when I was 25 : “Don’t worry about being successful now- you’re a boy. Clients only want men.” So: Tattoos, my beard and age have all worked in my favour.
“Luckily what worked was me- not just some idea of me. So I learned to just be me and fuck what anyone else wants.”
TPE– I’ve noticed that more and more of the big campaigns have more mature men these days, I guess because in many ways women are attracted to older men. You have a very strong portfolio, of all your jobs which ones were your favourites?
BRR– Sergeant Pepper for the exposure it gave me. West LA Boutique produced some of my favourite photos and proved that I could work successfully internationally. Hande Yener Biri Var music video was a big success in Turkey and internationally, and last but not least is the work I did with Pringle of Scotland. Proof once again that I could work with high end brands as a tattooed model.
TPE– Those are some big and impressive names! I love that it puts South African models on the map internationally, especially with the industry being so fast and cut throat. What do you think of the industry filling up with heavily tattooed men like Jimmy Q and Stephen James, yet we hardly ever see heavily tattooed girls on the runway?
BRR– (I am) Highly disappointed by the lack of tattooed girls. I adore tattooed girls. I think perhaps it’s a delay, and people like Ruby Rose will change that attitude. Also, as a side thought, it’s almost like female models are there as perfectly aligned bodies to hang clothes off of. IE tattooed women will take attention away from the clothing. But maybe I’m over thinking.
TPE– I actually agree with you 100%. I’m excited for the day we see more tattooed girls on the runway. I remember seeing a heavily tattooed model on the runway for Victoria’s Secret in 2012, but afterwards I found out that they were all fake. It was a bleak moment for me haha
Brett and I carried on talking about models, tattoos and Tinder. One thing I’ve noticed in Brett and many other tattooed people, be they models, artists or just collectors is that they have a sense of acceptance that I struggle to find in other people.
My heart swells with pride when I see photos of myself on the internet- a strong and proudly tattooed woman. Finding more people that have the courage to pursue their dreams whilst wearing their ink proudly makes me happy.
Tattoos are not for sailors or prostitutes- tattoos are for models and muses.