Instead of beauty, branding.
The world's reaction to Vin Los is that of a shared and immediate sentiment of instant fascination. An innate need to understand the psyche of anyone who turns their body into a creative canvas is natural. The appeal of the traditional tattooed male, on varying scales, from the extremities of Zombie Boy Rick Genest to the more subtle increase in presence of male models with ink on luxury brand runways isn't something that is necessarily dying down. Body art as a trend now has unquestionable longevity, but this evolution is moving towards a clear sentiment and purpose-led statement of creativity.
When I first saw Vin Los, I immediately wanted to understand his backstory and ambition for what had taken him to this point. With this in mind, we created a special project for in collaboration with my dark matter menswear brand Ada + Nik and Canadian photographer Naskademini to bring to life a set of portraits based around the quote from Isaiah 3:24 which references the future of humanity, "Instead of beauty, branding."
Vin and I discussed modern day iconography, his creative inspirations and ambitions to change societal perceptions.
What makes a modern day icon in your eyes?
To me, an icon is a mix of many things : aura, soul, personality, actions and charisma. For example Marilyn Monroe, when you look at her in the videos that remain, you see that she has that thing that keeps our eyes on her. I think this is about our energy. Some people have it, some people don't. In my case, I would love to embody pop culture and fame. We are living in a era of "self promotion". Reality shows, music pop stars that also become more than just singers, they are icons in their own right. I want to represent all of that, with strong words... like giving my all, body and soul, to that "representation". Being a living statue of what means "fame".
Who are your creative inspirations?
My inspirations would be, obviously Monroe. Leonardo Da Vinci is also a person that has inspired me so much, by his great intelligence and amazing creativity. Michelangelo, for his iconic paintings. Then, I could say people like Kim Kardashian for her immense and unattainable levels of fame in modern times.
The fact that we just worked together on the Ada + Nik shoot with Naskademini is a demonstration that things are moving in the right direction for you. What do you viably want to achieve in the future? Do you feel that you are hitting the tipping point?
Yes, I do feel that I'm getting closer to my dreams, I'm not there yet, but all the media attention and future shoots are signs that things are getting better! I hope that I get enough international press that designers see me and want to work with me. I could also be in music videos for popstars, or even a TV show, who knows! This would be for my 20s (I'm now 24). In my 30s, I want to be a business man, I have many many ideas for magazines, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. When I'll die at maybe 85, I want the word 'LOS' to translate as 'BIG empire'.
Initial reactions from the public to your tattoos have been mixed, and let's be fair the general public is always going to be critical and find it had to understand. You're a smart man and clearly very self aware, and have anticipated this. Is there anything that you want to say about how you see yourself as a walking body of contemporary art to silence the critics?
As surprising as it seems, I never felt pressure from the people about my tattoos, even before I got media attention. But, I'm now seeing it on the internet. Well, seriously, it doesn't affect me at all, because it just shows exactly what I'm demonstrating. I decided to destruct my clean image with voluntary ugly / raw tattoos, to show that the physical is not the only thing that matters in a human. The inside is far more important. And the negative response I get, shows that society all over the world judges people by their looks. So if someone is fat, with acne, too old etc, they too will be judged. I think this is disgusting and I want to stand up for all of them, for the gays, for the transgenders, for those who are too slim, too fat, for people with acne, for everyone that could be insecure about themselves, and say " Hey! BE CONFIDENT, no matter who you are, I DO LOVE YOU and start loving your life, and make it HOW YOU WANT IT." I want to give people confidence. A society of happy, confident people is a really strong society.
The press have dubbed you a model, but I see you more as an embodiment of iconography and a particular prophetic quote about the future of the world comes to mind, "instead of beauty, branding". What you have achieved takes great ambition and moral strength. What do you have planned to ensure longevity of your presence as a cultural figure?
I'm not just an image, I'm a new thinker, I'm getting people attention by my self-made image, but after this, I will, step-by-step, show a new world, with real good values. For example, when I will be at the point of launching my own magazines, I could put transgender people on the cover, to embrace the T world. I want to make clear action that moves masses into acceptance, love and beauty, real beauty which means less judgment, more peace. I'm giving my life on earth to make it. I think I will be able to do it. There's a lot of fight I want to end.
I'm all about love, I don't have any mean things inside of me. I love everyone.
Do you relate to every single word that you have tattooed equally or are there some that mean more to you than others? If so which...
Every word I choose are in the same theme, all pop culture. So sensuality, over the top expressions, cities. If people take the time to analyze my image, it is basically a reflection/mirror of "where" we are going. This is why "guilty" sits in the center of my brow. Guilty for letting go of good values for the bad ones. I want to be famous to be able to have a big impact in the mind of millions of people. To make them realise what really matters in life.
Vin Los for Ada + Nik by Naskademini
Concept: Nik Thakkar
All clothing: Ada + Nik
Stylist: Candice Pantin