Photo by Sylvan Magnus
Remember in the 90s when you’d walk through the mall and see teenage morons hanging outside Foot Locker or whatever wearing JNCOs and stupid earrings, and they’d sometimes have Nike swooshes or Mercedes-Benz logos shaved into their hair? It was the epitome of brand loyalty—a bunch of suckers who were using their heads as walking billboards for free. We’re not sure if Andrew Lardinois, a 33-year-old living in Portland, Oregon, was inspired by his mallrat days or came up with the idea of making extra cash by shaving the logos of local businesses into his hair all by himself. So far, he’s served as a walking commercial for a liquor store, a fashion boutique, and a coffee shop, among other places. I wanted to talk to him about how it feels to invent the “human billboard” look.
VICE: What was the first design you shaved into your hair?
Andrew Lardinois: One day I was having my legs waxed and saw my sideburns in the mirror. I thought, These look like cowboy boots. All they need are heels etched in one side. I asked my waxer if she could turn my ’burns into boots. I knew she’d love a challenge.
And that turned into, “I should sell my head as a space for advertising”?
I began seeing a barber who specialized in using straight razors from the 1800s. He knew about the designs my waxer friend had done and wanted to try. But sideburns are an itty-bitty canvas, and he wanted a bigger surface: my head. I liked this local beer shop with a rooster logo, so my barber shaved it into my head. He even shaded the rooster with hairs of different lengths. The amount of complexity was unbelievable. Tragically, I could never see it since it was on the back of my head.
Did you just walk into the store with their logo shaved into your hair?
Oh yeah. There were a lot of jaws dropping and people running to get cameras. My hair has been exploited and abused on their Facebook page. Initially, I never asked for anything, but I got a lot of free beers. Businesses started approaching me after a while. I had to work out a pricing guide.
How much does your head cost?
Fifty dollars a week. Some of that goes to my barber. That’s still way less than any of the ad rates in local papers. I’m a walking and talking advertisement, and I’ll promote the store, no matter what. If I’ve chosen to have it on my head, everyone knows it’s worth checking out.
Do you support yourself with ad sales?
Well, I also work at a Jackson Hewitt tax kiosk inside a Walmart.
Do they make you wear a suit or cover up your hair?
No. One of the awesome and freaky things about the Northwest is that everything’s accepted. I’m not about to wear my 13-inch mohawk in the tax office, but it’s a very progressive Walmart tax office.
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