A novel approach to going bald, aged 29, one man decided to shave his head and use it as a creative canvas in 2006. That cultural entrepreneur, has gone on to become an iconic figure within London’s art and design scenes. His designs have ranged from a high profile 1000 Swarovski crystal headpiece, as well as homage to artists such as Hokusai. Ape to Gentleman took some time to get to know the innovative human tapestry himself, Philip Levine.
EA: Would you say your work is fuelled from your artistic side, or was it more a case that the baldness sparked the artistic creativity in you?
PL: Baldness definitely gave me the freedom to be artistic in a specific way but I have always been creative and support creative people. You just have to look at my art collective www.lazygramophone.com to find a wealth of creativity I deal with in publishing and art displays.
EA: In terms of the motivation behind your work, what was your main inspiration, and what made you decide that this was the right time to have an Exhibition?
PL: I have been using my head as a canvas for creativity since 2006 when I decided to shave my head. I had been considering putting on an exhibition of my best designs in 2009 and when my website received a considerable amount of attention due to trend websites picking up on my designs I realised then it was time to put on a show. As for inspiration I am involved in the fashion, design and art worlds so the people I meet and everyday materials and images I see make me thing of ideas for my work.
“Baldness, the final frontier. To baldly go where no bald man has gone before” – Philip Levine
EA: Your work has garnered you a lot of attention, so much so Gillette have opted to support your Exhibition – was it something that happened organically?
PL: I have been using Gillette since I was a teenager from seeing my father use it before me. When I started balding it was natural for me to shave my head with Gillette and so they were the first brand that came to mind when considering who should support my show. It is the perfect partnership and an organic one at that.
EA: Now regarding the designs, some of them look extremely intricate (and painful). How long do they take to complete?
PL: Most take around 2 hours, some are longer and I collaborate with body artists Kat Sinclair to produce them. Photographer Daniel Regan has been taking the pictures for the exhibition and I’ve had a cast of my head made to display busts for the exhibition. I have had designs with acupuncture needles in my head but most of the time it is not a painful process and actually quite relaxing.
EA: Do you always have art on displayed on your head? When you are at work for example, what do you do with your head on a day to day basis?
PL: I normally have my head designs on for occasions such as events and launch nights. On a day to day basis I also have my own company, a creative agency called Two Penny Blue. On days when I don’t wear designs I would normally moisturise my head and depending on how cold it is be wearing a hat or going commando!
EA: It’s fair to say that given your experience, you must now be an expert at shaving heads. In your opinion, what’s the best way to achieve the smoothest head shave?
PL: I would use a Braun CruZer shaver to minimize the hair, from that I always go in the shower, leaving my head under warm water for a while, I would then use Gillette shaving foam, as well as a Gillette razor to shave my head from then. Currently I’m using the new Gillette ProGlide razor and shave gel and without doubt it gives me the smoothest shave – definitely ending up as ‘smooth as a babies bottom’.
EA: Any other shaving tips for fellow head shavers?
PL: Keep your head well moisturised and be proud of having a smooth bounce.
EA: Apart from on your world-famous head, do you use any other grooming products, if so what is your current favourite product?
PL: I do use Gillette thermal scrub for my face before shaving and if it comes to impressing the ladies I have been using Paco Rabanne 1 Million after-shave.
EA: Finally Philip, if you had one piece of advice for anyone, what would it be?
PL: Don’t shave an ape. They’re meant to be hairy.
The ‘Headism’ exhibition will run in the first week of May with a launch on Wednesday May 4th at the NL Gallery where Philip’s most acclaimed head designs will be showcased in photography, sculpture and film. To find out more about Philip’s work visit: