Craig Hanson, Creative Director for American Crew, lives his life on the fly. Hanson, who recently orchestrated the American Crew All-Star Challenge, a global event held in Lisbon, Portugal, travels the world putting on education symposiums, competitions and classes for American Crew. Hanson was also a judge for the All-Star Challenge and MODERN spoke to Hanson while in Lisbon about what goes into arranging these global epic events.
MODERN: You had to find models for the American Crew All-Star photo shoot and models for the Revlon Professional Style Masters show. What do you hope for when you are doing a casting?
HANSON: It comes down to someone letting me cut their hair. You can get a beautiful man, beautiful face, beautiful hair, great body, nice personality and I say, ‘I am totally booking you, can I cut your hair?’ and they say ,’ No, you can’t touch my hair.’ You can really pay through the nose to cut their hair, sometimes, but it does depend on the location. In Scandinavia, we’ll do a show and have 25 models who get paid with product. And they are beautiful and you do whatever you want to their hair. Yet I go to LA and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to cut their hair. Not everyone is willing to work for a little pomade.
MODERN: At the All-Star challenge, you were on set at the photo shoot all day, explaining the rules, making sure things were running on time. You could go look at the monitor at any time to see the final shots being picked but you didn't. Why do you choose not to see the final images?
HANSON: I want to have fresh eyes when it comes time to judge. I see what is going on over there but I don’t know which image they have selected because I would be inclined to tell them something like, ‘I would rethink that if I were you.’ At one point, David and I both said to a finalist that you can’t choose an image where the top of the head is cropped off. That was all I was going to say about that.
MODERN: What is a through-line you saw with the 14 finalists of the All-Star Challenge? What did they all share?
HANSON: Their nerves. They do this every single day and they're just doing a haircut but they still get so nervous. I think it's really charming, actually. By design, we do put a bit of pressure on them by giving them 45 minutes to cut so it is more of a challenge. We don't want it to be ‘Take your time, we’ll be here when you’re done.’
The other shared thing I see is the self-critiquing. You can see them do it in the moment and especially when they walk their model down and are taking them to makeup and they are saying, ‘ I wish I had five more minutes.’
MODERN: Are you able to identify a contender?
HANSON: Yes. It is somebody who sees that what you do behind the chair is your bread and butter and that there you tend to get into a routine and make everyone look the same—it’s your signature. But the ones who step back and say, ‘If I can do this, which no client would let me do to their hair, it is going to make a really good picture.’ That makes for a contender. I don’t know how you learn that, I just think you have to have done it before. You can’t always be so literal. The skill level is there, their passion is there, all the assets, but they are so literal that they shoot themselves in the foot.
MODERN: What has been the best thing about this year's All-Star Challenge?
HANSON: The people are so, so great. There is no drama, there are no prima donnas, and there are no divas. They are all so wonderful.
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