Curiosity. Oddities. Carnivals. The Dadaists.
This is where Damian Monzillo has always found his inspiration, from childhood to Art school, from being the Art Director at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon to his current work as an Editorial artist and teacher.
Damian has created an all-encompassing style of thought called "The Synthesis of Synchronicity” which brings organic ideas about cutting, styling and color application back into the industry.
He is known for treating hair as fabric and doing outrageous things for shoots, such as painting hair with liquid latex.
He agreed to be interviewed while trimming my hair, and boldly proclaimed it would be the best haircut of my life.
Q: What exactly is “The Synthesis of Synchronicity”?
A: This refers to chemical electricity & interconnectedness. When I coined this phrase, I wanted to explain how people connect when they have a shared creative purpose. It’s the idea of putting four people in a room and it could be the Rolling Stones working closely on an album or four people working on a shoot who will never see each other again. It’s a matter of coming together as a collective to create one voice.
Q: What are your greatest creative influences?
A: Even before I grew my mustache out, I’ve always been a huge fan of Salvador Dali!
I am inspired by the Austrian and Parisian movements from the turn of the 20th century, which gave us Moulin Rouge, Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Art Nouveau which later turned into Art Deco.
I am inspired by Art Brut, a style of art that is used as a means of communication, which we now know as art therapy.
And I love Absinthe!
Music is a serious obsession. I grew up with the second and 3rd wave of Punk. My first two records were The Cure’s ‘Concert’ and the Dead Kennedy’s ‘Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables’. I always research the influences of my favorite bands to see where they got their sound.
Growing up in New York City was a huge influence for me. My mother lived in Greenwich Village in 1965 if that gives you any indication of where I come from. She was always drawing, playing guitar, and singing. She also studied acting with Lee Strasberg just before I came into the picture. Around the same time, my dad’s band The Mariners opened up for the Isley Brothers after winning a ‘Battle of the Bands’ contest. Within a couple of years the guitar player from the Isley’s made quite a name for himself… Jimi Hendrix!
I’ve just moved back to New York after almost 11 years living in San Francisco and 6 years in L.A. Being back home makes me feel a deeper connection to my family heritage, which is Italian, Swedish & Irish.
Q: Tell me about your hair-cutting technique?
A: Years before "The Synthesis of Synchronicity" came to light, I used to study a very flamboyant hairdresser named Rocky cutting hair dry in San Francisco. This changed my perspective.
I came to the conclusion that cutting hair dry, up into the ends of at softer angles, following the head shape and going with the natural texture of the hair made much more sense.
Before that, everything I’d learned had been strict Sassoon training, where every line had to be sharp and PRECISE.
I think that my classic training was an amazing foundation but my style is naturally more free-form and intrinsically I don’t believe there is only one way to do something.
This is especially true when it comes to curly hair. The worst is to see someone with lovely natural curl who looks like their hair has been chopped on a butcher block, cut so straight and hard that there is no longer any life to it, or in a terrible hard triangle that hasn’t been layered!
I’ve found that I can also see hair move naturally and see more details of the haircut when it’s dry.
The minute someone cuts your hair in a hard line they are guaranteeing you will need to come back in 6-8 weeks for another cut because it grows out badly.
I believe when a haircut works, it morphs into another shape without going through any real awkward periods. A haircut should never need a week or two to look good.
I cut according to the way the client likes to style their hair, so they never leave worrying whether they’ll be able to recreate the style.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: I’m studying this book called À Rebours (Against the
Grain) by Joris-Karl Huysmans, which was released in 1884 and which also inspired Oscar Wilde to write‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’.
I love that time period for its aesthetics and value of quality over quantity, which is very different from how things are today.
I suppose that’s what I try to bring to my work. I can’t say that I work fast but, I certainly work well, and people connect to that.
Damian Monzillo’s website is at www.scissorandcomb.com.
Photos courtesy of Damian Monzillo.