(In)Fringe benefits

As his new publication INFRINGE is released, Anthony Mascolo shares his insight on staying inspired after more than 40 years in hairdressing

Adored by thousands of hairdressers all over the globe, TIGI’s Anthony Mascolo has been at the top of his game for more than four decades. It makes sense that he’s always looking for ways to challenge and push his own creativity. Together with his wife, make-up artist and creative collaborator, Pat Mascolo, Anthony wanted to find a new platform to express himself, and offer a creative outlet to his team of hairdressers, fashion stylists and make-up artists. This led to INFRINGE – An Anthropology of Hair.

Surrounded by a close team of graphic designers, artists in residence, film-makers, and photographers, Anthony and Pat launched a web site dedicated to the pursuit of artistry within hair. This site presents their own work, and developed into an emerging exploration into the culture of hair, seen through the eyes of hairdressers, artists, photographers, fashion designers and other diverse groups. The next step was a tangible publication – a 500-page tome called INFRINGE, now available to UK consumers through WHSmiths and other outlets.

The challenge, when anyone has been in the industry for a lengthy space of time, is identifying ways to push what you do and maintain a high level of creativity. Know how that feels? Then let Anthony share just how he does it… 

How do you find and maintain creativity when you’re a busy salon stylist?

“I’ve always been lucky to have people around me who’ve encouraged me to be experimental, enabling me to push myself and progress. I’m always thinking about what to do next and I’m very lucky to be married to a person who has not only supported me, but is equally original in her thinking.

“Hairdressers are naturally artistic, but when you’ve got a full column everyday, it can be hard to find the time to drive your creativity. You’ve got to give yourself time.  In the early days of our careers, Pat and I worked evenings and weekends. We still spend a lot of time talking about what we can do next – it’s what we do. It’s important to be open to ideas and be aware of everything that can support you. I always say inspiration comes from everywhere. It might be a film, music, art, people on the street, fashion, nature, architecture or a conversation you have with your team.

“While I’ve been fortunate to travel to most places in the world, my home has always been London and it remains one of my key points of inspiration. Long before East London became a hotspot for new trends, I was inspired by the street fashion and experimental style of Londoners.

“Never stop looking, research continually and regularly brainstorm with your team and those close to you. When we’re planning a new collection my team and I research separately and then pool our ideas. Everyone sees things slightly differently. Mixing those concepts together can formulate a great story.”

What advice would you give to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment?

“I’ve always believed in the importance of education. I think if you stop learning you stop progressing and you also lose your enthusiasm. Improving your techniques keeps you focused. From a salon owner’s perspective, education grows a strong, inspired and happy team, and the upside of this is staff and client loyalty and business success.

“Education is about investing in yourself and your team. It means prioritising the time to attend courses or create training within the salon. It’s also sharing what you know and what you learn with others. I firmly believe in sharing everything I do as soon as I do it. I’ve always maintained this philosophy pushes me to move my own work to the next level. In fact I’ve always said: ‘what’s new today, is old tomorrow’, this little phrase keeps me progressing what I do.”

After more than four decades in hair, how do you maintain your energy and drive?

“I’ve never stopped enjoying what I do and never lost the desire to improve. I believe in challenging myself and the people I work with. When it comes to energy, I do take more holidays these days and I spend a lot of time with my family. My three kids all inspire me. My eldest daughter, Georgina, is an artist and photographer. She shot a lot of the still-life imagery in INFRINGE. My middle daughter, Alex, has a degree in Anthropology and it was her influence that made us think of hair in terms of cultural differences and development. And my youngest, Josh, is a hairdresser and frequently works with me on shoots and shows. You’ve got to build a future for your family and that’s one thing giving me continual drive.

“My advice to people starting out in hairdressing is: have passion. You’ve got to love what you do. That’s an important part of being good at hairdressing, the days are usually long and hard and it’s competitive. If you don’t love it, do something else.  Most of the top hairdressers are totally dedicated to their profession. It’s got to be more than ‘a job’, it’s a lifestyle. I have fun doing what I do and I want everyone who works with me to have fun too.”