He is one of the most beloved hairdressers in this industry and we got the opportunity to hang with Matrix Artistic Director Chrystofer Benson a day before his big Matrix 2016 Trend presentation at Matrix Destination 2016 in Orlando, Florida. We shared some laughs, talked about playing old school video games (Joust, Centipede and Ms. Pac Man were mentioned) and sent him through our speed-round interview we like to call “5Qs.”
Who: Chrystofer Benson
What: Matrix Artistic Director
Our site/publication is called Industrie and we spelled it with an “ie” on purpose – it’s the French way of spelling Industry and was once defined to us as an artisan who works with their hands to create things of beauty and substance. So tell us, how do you define beauty and substance?
Beauty and substance go together much like how the science and the creativity of what we do go together. They have to be balanced. There’s a science to what we do along with a creative side to it all. One should never overpower the other. I feel like everything should be balanced in life.
What other creative outlets besides hairdressing do you explore/practice?
I actually do airbrushing and just got into doing more photography. I also do some painting. It’s very abstract and it’s a good outlet for me. I don’t like to do something and not have an end result. I love video games, but I don’t play them because there isn’t an end result for me. I like to have something tactile in my hand, and when I’m done painting it, I usually paint over it [laughs]. I actually have some in my house, but they’re small.
As far as the airbrushing goes, I once had a client who was a ballroom dancer and I ended up airbrushing three of her gowns for her. It was this gradient melting where blues were melting into greens. My first editorial photography feature that I shot myself is being published next month (February 2016) in 10TEN Magazine that is based in the UK.
These are things I would have never done if I didn’t get into the hair industry. This industry helped unlock a creative side to me.
What’s your personal motto/favorite quote?
Be better today than what you were yesterday. If you’re always moving forward, you’re not looking back. You can reference the past, but not live in it. If you’re being better today than what you were yesterday, then you are making a difference in your life. It’s a simple mindset.
You have to be the professional.
You have to be the self-disciplinary.
You have to get up off your butt and go make that happen.
When have you felt the most vulnerable in your career?
When I get up on stage. But the more you do it, the more you build your confidence. Tomorrow, when I go and do this trend class, there’s vulnerability in that because we are doing something so different than the norm. No sit-down-let-me-teach-you-a-class. We’re starting off with a live photo shoot as though they have just walked onto a set. And honestly, we don’t know if this is going to work, and we don’t know if this is not going to work, but we have enough practice and rehearsal between us that we feel it will be a success. That is a huge vulnerability because I’m doing something live in front of a lot of people, but the outcome of what can be from that can be massive.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve had many, many people in this industry who have taken the time and pulled me aside for different reasons, whether its from a haircutting standpoint or a color standpoint. Someone who made a really large impact on me, a big standout moment in my career, was meeting Vidal Sassoon in 2010 at Intercoiffure. It was in passing, and someone introduced us, and he said, “I love what you do.” He said, “Be really passionate about what you do, love what you do, and always remember you never know who’s going to see it.” That’s when I thought, “Oh my God, this is somebody who is an all-time icon for me, someone who has changed the industry.” It was a moment for me that forever changed what I do. It was then I said to myself, “Everything that I touch with my hands has to be immaculate and to the best of my ability.” It was one of the most life changing moments for me. You really never know who’s out there watching what you’re doing and seeing your work.
If you weren’t a hairdresser, what would you be?
I would be an interior designer.
What’s one thing most people would never know about you just from looking at you?
That I am actually very personable and funny. Sometimes people think I’m mean and intimidating and I’m not!
If you had to make a personal hashtag, what would it be?
If you were a superhero, what would your special power be?
That I could fly so I wouldn’t have to sit on a plane all the time.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Coffee (and a cigarette).
What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
Want to read more 5Qs? Click on the “5Qs” tab below and get to know some fantastically interesting people.
What are Industrie 5Qs?
Our 5Qs are just that—5 questions that get asked, contemplated and answered. To spice it up, we throw in bonus questions that the person being interviewed gets to pick out of a potluck of possibilities.