Tom Brennan – The Seoul Alternative

With a distinct and alternative look, the doors to modelling were wide open for Tom. However, it took several scouting attempts before he acquiesced to the opportunity, as he was working through personal struggles. He’s now making waves as an international model. Check his story out below.


Say hello to Tom:

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Where are you from? Where have you been?

I am from England (Oxford, to be exact). I’ve lived all over the world. Seoul (where I am now), Tokyo, Hong Kong, London – many palaces. I like to travel around and settle for a while, and then move on.


What’s your favorite place in the world?

My favorite place would be Camden Market in London. I just love the vibe, the atmosphere, and the great art that comes from there.

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How long have you been modeling in Seoul for now?

I’ve been modelling in Seoul for around three years now, but I actually started when I was 19, in England. I then made the decision to go to university and the modelling stopped.


Where do you plan on going next?

I have no idea, but my options are to stay here, go home to London, or try New York. I haven’t made any decisions yet.


Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?

Like I said above, I started at 19, but that was very short lived. I didn’t model for around 10 years after that. When I moved to Asia, people would ask me on the street now and again, and I always said no (for some reason, I don’t know why now). Then I said yes, and since then, I’ve been pretty busy.


What’s your favorite picture of yourself?

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This picture is from the first shoot I did after getting back to modeling. Someone came up to me on the street and asked, and I said yes (for once).

 

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This doesn’t really have any history or anything behind it, I just like it.

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These next two are from my favorite lookbook with Frimzworks. The brand and I have a great relationship, and I’ve been their model for over a year now. (The previous photo and these two are all from the same photographer – a great guy to work with.)

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What was the moment you decided to get into modeling?

I really didn’t decide to get into it. It kinda just happened. Might sound a little weird, but I was scouted on the streets – first in England, and then here in Korea. I really started to put work in after I became a little popular in Korea and actually realized I enjoyed modelling. So, I suppose the moment I decided to get into it was the moment I started to enjoy it.


What was your most embarrassing situation while modeling?

 

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I once had to stand on a box next to a female model who was taller than me. I wasn’t embarrassed as such, but it was quite funny. (standing on box here)

Modeling is very competitive. How do you stand out?

I think in Asia, I have a very different look. Sometimes it’s a hindrance, sometimes it’s a bonus. I try to stay true to my style, and don’t say yes to things that don’t suit me or my look. I have tried to create more of a brand type image than just a model image – I’ve done this mainly through social media (Instagram, mainly) and through the work I have chosen to do.


Who has had the biggest influence on your modeling career and why?

My friends, probably. They are the ones I go to for advice or honest opinions on what I am doing.


What’s been the most challenging part of modeling, and how did you overcome those challenges?

I honestly don’t find it a challenge. I enjoy it and most of the work I do; the people I work with are very relaxed and comfortable to work with. I am very lucky in that respect. I also try and make myself as open and as easy to work with as possible – no prima donna type stuff with me. I am a normal guy who happens to be a model.


What is the best thing a photographer can do to bring out your personality?

Understand my style and communicate with me. I sometimes need input. I like to know what I am doing and what they are looking for. I am very chatty and sociable while working, so I like to build relationships, and it can make me feel uninterested (in the shoot) if the photographer is impersonal.


What was your most memorable photoshoot and why? Who was it with?

I recently did a shoot for F/W season and it was 30 plus degrees Celsius outside (plus about 80% humidity), and I was wearing hoodies and thick winter clothes. The shoot was still fun, but very, very hot.

I have added a few shots from the shoot below. I might not look hot, but I am sweating badly.

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What do you like most about modeling?

I just like being on set and interacting with the people around me. I enjoy the artistic side of modeling, and I like to see the photos at the end. I also like clothes, so it’s always nice to look different and try on different styles. A little bit like when I was a kid and my sister used to make me wear dresses (thankfully, she’s stopped that now).


What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great model?

Be yourself, whoever you are. Be you.


What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?

There isn’t one thing, I try to flexible and be open-minded. If the clothes aren’t my style, or I don’t think I would look good in them, I tend to mention that or ask to see the casting shots. Normally, the type of brands that want to hire me generally have style that fits with my look.


What are the top 3 tips you have for aspiring models?

  • Be yourself always, if you can.
  • Be confident in your own look.
  • Be nice. Nothing wrong with being a nice, polite, and attentive person on set. Try to get into the mode of being a professional, and later on that will always help you.

What do you want people to remember about you after a shoot?

I want them to remember me. Not the photos or how I look, but my personality and my work ethic. I much prefer, “Oh he’s a nice guy, easy to work with and professional,” than “He’s handsome.”


If you could model anywhere in the world where would you go?

New York. I just have a real soft spot for the city. It reminds me of London. It’s like its own country almost.


Who’s your biggest hero in your life?

My parents. They have helped me a lot and always been there whenever I needed them. They have let me live the life I want without any pressure to be something or someone. I think this has shaped me a lot, and I’m very grateful for my upbringing.


What’s one of your biggest fears?

I hate swimming pools. I nearly drowned when I was a kid, and the smell of swimming pools makes me feel pretty nauseous still to this day.


What’s something nobody knows about you that you’d like to share?

I have an IQ of 148 (I was in Mensa).


Who do you want to give a shoutout to?

My buddy Kim Haru. I work with him often and he is just super talented. We normally do a few concepts per shoot (these are all TFL shoots – he’s the only photographer I ever do them for), and he understands what my look is and how to capture it. I am always happy with the shots we get.

Here are few from our most recent shoot.

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What fashion trend do you wish would come back?

I am actually quite happy with the state of fashion at the moment, although who doesn’t like flared jeans?


Which current fashion trend do you wish was gone forever?

Jogging pants. They are for jogging, not for going to the club in.


What do you think is your best feature?

I don’t know. I like to think it’s my overall mood, rather than one specific thing.


If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Nothing, because otherwise, I wouldn’t be me (although I wouldn’t mind being 6’2″).


This one’s loaded – what are some struggles you’ve overcome?

This is a loaded one. Let’s start by saying life now is pretty great –  I’m pretty happy with 95% of the things that are going on at the moment.

Growing up, since the age of about 13, I’ve suffered with an anxiety and panic disorder, so through my teens and right up until about 28, I struggled a lot with these things. Alcohol was a big trigger for me (I wasn’t a massive drinker, but even one drink would be enough).

It got to point where I had to take action. So, I stopped drinking and started to take medication for my problems (I had been on them before, but these have really helped).

Since then, I’ve felt great. I’m not ashamed of my problems – I hope if someone who suffers the same problems as me, reads this, know that help is available and you should take it.


What is the most life-changing event that you’ve experienced?

As mentioned above, quitting drinking and dealing with the problems I had. Without this, I wouldn’t have been able to model again, or even feel comfortable thinking about doing it.


For anyone that wants to get in touch with Tom, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Facebook: Profile

Instagram: @_tomandtoms

Tumblr: Page


Tom, thanks for the candid interview!

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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