Climb up five dark flights to the studio of Gogy Esparza and you’ll find yourself in an interior design tumblr dream. A high ripped tin ceiling sprayed with oil and latex paint by Gogy, it’s a bright, open perfect place to get your haircut or just hang out. With an old fashioned barber chair in one corner (found on Craigslist) there’s plenty of space to flip through the stack of unusual waiting room mags.
Whether he’s showing his collaborative art project El Vacio at Comme des Garçons Black Shop in Berlin, or talking it out with scissors in his hand, Gogy is constantly exploring and staying curious. See what he thinks about getting lost, growing up, cutting hair and making art in 2014.
First off, who are your hair heroes?
My aunt, and my big brothers, who I learned the trade from. But I've also been lucky enough to work alongside some of the city's best stylists and characters over the years. I've always been the youngest guy in the shop, so I'd try to absorb as much as I can, everyone has their little tricks.
What was your hair like when you were 13?
I kind of looked like Little Richard. I had that skinny stache. Long, long hair, a bit past my shoulders. But I used to get it braided in cornrows every week, and I had a crispy shape-up.
What made you want to become a barber?
I was too shy growing up. I looked up to barbers, namely my big brothers because they always knew how to crack a joke. They knew how to talk to any and everyone, navigate through different personalities. That's a trait I always wanted to learn. I started cutting during the very beginnings of the internet era, so the shop was still the way a lot of information was exchanged — it's where you felt the most plugged in.
Where do you go to find Hairspiration?
I do look at a lot of magazines and editorials, both new and old. Old music videos, films, books. But I think I absorb the most when I travel. The haircut is usually the first thing I notice on a person. And each place I've ever been to always has a few styles very specific to their city or country. I'll even get my haircut at a local shop, just so I can learn as much as I can about the shop culture, or even the technique.
I know your clientele is male, but have you ever cut your mom's hair?
No, I haven't cut my mother's hair, but I actually do cut a lot of my girlfriends' hair.
What are you doing when you aren't in your studio?
I like to do the stray dog thing, just roam and get lost. I need it, it's how I figure most things out and when I take most of my photos and videos. I saw this little documentary on Daido Moriyama and he would sneak off into sketchy little alleys all the time. I like being curious. I'm always at the movies, and I like dancing in the clubs.
Tell me what you're planning for your upcoming show in January?
NEW NEW! is what we’re calling our show in January. It signifies a fresh start for me in my new space, and I'm super lucky to show alongside Peter Sutherland and Maggie Lee. Its really an honor for me, to have them believe in my stuff and support, and the show will also serve as a kind of studio warming. Please come check it out, our opening is on the 22nd of January!