Joey George first arrived to New York City from Pennsylvania to pursue a career as a ballet dancer, but soon found his head turned by the artistic possibilities of a life in hair. He began working as a session stylist, and his varied hair creations were soon appearing on the pages of Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.
In 2014, George created a series of bespoke wigs for Lady Gaga, destined for her ARTPOP world tour. Now based between New York and London, his current focus is on renovating his New York studio office, with plans to open up the space as a gallery to showcase his latest projects.
Throughout his career, George has kept personal scrapbooks in which to develop his own sculptural hair creations. Documenting his ideas through photographs, sketches, paintings and collages, George explains that keeping a visual diary allows him to indulge his more ‘out there’ ideas, as well as nurturing both his love of hair and art in one place. “I found that once I started, the pages began filling up quite quickly,” he explains, “I find the process very therapeutic”.
“I’ve been documenting hairstyles and creating visuals as supporting references to show to various photographers and designers for years”
Do you remember the first moment you realised that hair was the thing for you? When I was about eight years old my grandmother taught me to braid. She would get her hair washed and set into place once, maybe twice a week in the local parlour. She would bring me along; I would sit under the dryer and pretend to have my hair dried. When I was 10 or 11, I cut my nanny’s hair with crayola scissors during a bedtime story… I don’t think she was very happy with that snip!
Tell us about your scrapbooks, what do you use them for? I’ve been documenting hairstyles and creating visuals as supporting references to show to various photographers and designers for years. It was all part of my creative process of developing hair content for a project. When I share references I want it to come from my own perspective, of what I think would be best for the model. I’m a very intuitive person, so visualising a subject in its final form is very easy for me. Then to translate my perspective to another artist, I would draw, paint or collage in my book.
Which artists inspire you? I’m a huge fan of Jean Cocteau. He experimented with several artistic platforms: writing, film, painting, drawing, acting, designing… He’s a huge inspiration to me.
What was it like working with Lady Gaga for her ARTPOP tour? LG is such an incredible artist. She’s a chameleon with her beauty and is constantly evolving, so you have to exercise your creativity by experimenting. Developing hairstyles and wigs for her while travelling around Europe was one of the most memorable experiences of my career. She performed 80 shows!
You live between London and New York – which city has better hair? Haha, that’s a hard one! Both cities are saturated in diverse cultures. While New York has been my home for the majority of my adult life, London is where I connect with emerging designers and artists, whom I feel are experimenting with fashion and art in new ways.