In 2006 London born Philip Levine started using his head as a canvas for creativity when he began to go bald. His name and Headism exhibition have become iconic within London’s art and fashion scenes. With Fashionabald he shares his creative process and why he believes his art is so easy to relate to. Fashionabald: Your artistry and ideas are so unique, did you grow up in a creative family? Philip: I think they were more cultured than creative. My grandparents on my mom’s side enjoys the opera, so you could say they where sort of sophisticated and more of a middle class type of people for their generation. My mom also used to take me out a lot to the theatre and things like that, so there was obviously an of appreciation of culture. I wouldn't say it was vastly deep though. So it was more the fact that you've got to experience these cultural things that sparked something? Yes, and then I really enjoyed theatre performance. Also I think I was quite introverted when I was very young, so when I got sent to a boarding school, which was more relaxed and not necessarily so focused on education, one of the things I got into was school plays. So in terms of me being influenced, you could say that lead to me studying theatre performance at University. So would you say that you were creative/artistic as a child? No, is the answer to that I think. I probably took slightly more interest than the average person, but I wouldn't say I was artistic necessarily. How would you define your art? Thats a good question. I would probably define it as performance art ultimately, because that’s when it is at its best. How does your art and creativity affect your everyday life? Well, I sort of have a superman costume… I don't wear it every day, although I could happily see myself doing it, if I push myself to that level. But how does it affect my everyday life? It’s really special. When I started doing it, the basics was that I knew I was going to go bald. I started going bald very young, so when I shaved my head at that point I didn’t really have that in-between stage. I looked in the mirror and it wasn't like an instant “I’m gonna put art on my head”, it was more of an “I’ve got something here I can play with”. I have a body artist, Kat Sinclair, that I work with and we started creating different pieces. We also started MC’ing at the time, which we only did once every two months, but I was like “I’ll paint my head”. I didn't think performative, but I’d show myself out like that and people’s reactions were a lot stronger than I thought it would be. I mean at that point we weren’t really documenting the images fully, but from when we did and started putting the work up on the website the reaction was… I suppose you can say phenomenal for what it was. It wasn't really a thought process. When I did have the designs on and I started understanding that it was a form of performance, what happened was that it went viral and I started getting contacted by women who were saying “what you do is wonderful, because I am going through chemo…” or “I have alopecia and what you do is showing me how I can deal with my baldness”. Actually, I think a good story would be when I had done my main exhibition, I joined to be part of an art fair where I displayed three of my images. At one point a lady that must’ve been in her late twenties came up to me, looked at my images and instantly started crying. I asked her if everything was alright and she said “Yes, I’m fine. I just get what you are doing”. Then she said “I just got back from my mom in Paris, and she just got diagnosed with cancer and is going through chemo therapy. We were talking about baldness and how to deal with it. So I just understand what you are doing”. So she had a strong connection to it and saw what she wanted to see through it, and in that sense it was a wonderful moment. Because it wasn't necessarily the meaning of doing it, but it is wonderful that it can be like that and it is great that it is like that. There is indeed this underlying element of what I am doing which is turning something negative into something positive. Because as much as it is an ego thing to put art on your head and display yourself, when the energy is coming towards you it’s a very valuable knowledge to know that I am be able to inspire or help people like that woman in that way. “…which also says to people that you, whomever you are, can think of an idea. That you are just as much of a creative person as I am.” Where do you get your visual inspiration from? Just like everyday things, I’m not usually researching anything special. I will research if I think of an idea, but that would be more if I see something and then start thinking “could we get this on my head, could we stick coffee beans on my head, stick crystals to my head or paint a landscape”. So I would just say I get my inspiration from everyday things. It is all the things around you, which also says to people that you, whoever you are, can think of an idea. That you are just as much of a creative person as I am. I mean for me this just sort of organically happened, I wasn't going out of my way to be an artist and that’s what I am trying to say, that anyone can do it. What is you creative process like? Well, to do the designs I usually depend on other artists to do help me. So normally I would think of an idea, then meet up with with an artist, like Kat Sinclair who I normally work with and we will practice it until we get it right. Sometimes it doesn't work, but more often than not it does because Kat is such a phenomenal artist. When you started getting more noticed and started doing live performances, would you say this changed your craft in any way? Yeah, what you do is that you learn to understand peoples reactions when you are going out there, and some reactions are very simple and obvious while others aren’t. Because you are showing yourself out there, so it’s a part of you and it’s a part of your ego, so you have to understand it. It’s like an energy thing, you've got this phenomenal amount of energy you're giving out. Like when I usually wear my crystal headpiece, which is hundreds and hundreds of crystals glued to my head and it looks great, you’re having this energy that is drawn into you and you're learning how to adapt to it. It’s an amazing feeling, and it’s very similar to performance on stage. When I did performance art at University, I didn't do anything on my head for three years, then suddenly I did it and then I suppose I had created a foundation of understanding on how to adapt and understand people, and not be freaked out by it. The art has changed a little bit. Because I have displayed myself in places like Estonia, Finland so it changes a little bit in terms of understanding what I need to give people as an artist. I’ve been challenged, like when I was in Estonia, these young men walked in and it was quite an interesting conversation because he said “I don’t get it, what you do is silly”, but at the same time he was having a conversation with me. I didn't want to challenge him too much because if he didn't want to understand it that’s fine, but we had a fairly decent conversation and I at least was glad that he saw it, so potentially it opened up his mind a little bit when having to think about it. Do you think people can use your style of art as a tool in forming their identity? Yes, I mean hopefully it’s showing people that you can express yourself the way you want. So I would hope that If I can show my form of expression, they can express themselves in whichever the way they'd want, even if its on a daily basis or not. What is your idea of beauty? That’s a tough one… there are so many clichés, but beauty is probably people being able to dress and look how they want anywhere they want. Just people being who they want to be, without judging one another. So I would say that being happy within your own skin is probably my best interpretation of beauty. Why do you think your art is so relatable? Because anyone can do it. It’s not a tattoo, its none permanent. You can put it on and wash it off and be back into society again without having to think about it too much. Probably also because of the human face, because everyone connects to a face. My face is just there with my head and my face is interchangeable with my designs. The best ideas are the most simple and it was such a simple idea that even though people have done it in the past, I sort of created it in my own vision and because my idea was so simple, it’s simply easy to relate to. Interview: Philip Levine