Dozens of editorial works, including covers, for Vogue, Dazed and Allure just to mention a few - it is almost unbelievable that the story of Gabe Sin as a hair stylist started only four years ago. “I don’t know about other countries but in Korea we’ve got two types of hair stylists. The first type is the hairdresser who is working at a salon and they usually do cut and perm dyeing for their customers. The other type is doing hair styling for editorial and commercial shoots.”- says the Seoul based Creative whose career breakthrough didn’t come out of nowhere of course. “I started working in the beauty industry when I was 20 and have developed my career through [working] at hair salons for a long time. I opened my own hair salon when I turned 27 and learned both the craft of hair styling, as well the business aspects of running a hair salon.” Bymiga, his salon, turned out to be a successful initiative, however it still wasn’t enough to satisfy Sin creatively. “At one point, I got a chance to do hair styling for a shoot. It was someone’s personal work. This shoot was the turning point of my life. I really enjoyed it and felt happy while creating the work. Finally, I found what I really wanted to do and be.” This first editorial work of Sin kick-started his journey as a hair stylist at the age of 36. “After that job I started doing hair styling for shoots mainly, rather than salon work. Luckily, I could work on various types of shoots and through that I met talented professionals and friends in this field.” - explains the late blooming Creative who also shared the story behind one of his most characteristic works, the ‘tree series’.
“I started my work using Korean mother-of-pearl from familiar things around us. When I was young, each house had furniture made out of mother-of-pearl, called ‘jaggae’ in Korea, which is a traditional Korean craft. Nowadays, it is used as a cafe or private space interior, and young people are also familiar with it. I was inspired by this familiar, traditional and popular Korean craft. I traveled around Korea a lot in 2020 and I became interested in the shapes of the trees. I experimented with the tree-shaped hair styling several times and developed it. The ‘tree series’ is my last work from 2020 and a big team was involved in its creation.”
THE Qu & A
How do you find inspiration?
I usually got inspired by little kids before. Nowadays, the inspiration comes once and again from my experiences of what I felt, saw and learned, and also can be triggered by familiar things around me. These are piled up in my mind and they suddenly pop out as various ideas.
What are 3 values that you wish to mediate / nurture through your work?
I am really satisfied with my job and it makes me feel happy. I never thought about it before what the values of my work would be. Maybe the biggest value is satisfaction and how much I enjoy it. My hope for the future is to make people recognize my work. So I want to give more character to my styling.
Short Reflection by Gabe Sin
I’ve been working at a hair salon since I was young. I finally found out what I really wanted to be when I was 36: ‘the hair stylist’. Even though this happened later to me than to other people, I still gave up what I had been doing at that point to start this job and to jump into this field. Nowadays, I spend all my time doing hair styling for shoots, even if I don’t have shoots to go to, I work on personal projects and sometimes just sleep all day long.
Doing this job has always challenged me, and helped me to stay strong, motivated and energized at the same time. I found out what I wanted to be at an older age, but I’m satisfied and have a lot of fun doing what I’m doing.
This interview contributes to a new media format, where Creatives are in full control of their narratives. By exploring alternatives to narrative journalism, GAHSP starts unconventional conversations, emphasizing values and problems that shape our lives collectively.
Written and Edited by Julia Horvath
Image Courtesy of Gabe Sin