Vasco Gama @ Central Models
The living image of a surfer, but he isn't just a surfer. He isn't just chill and bon-vivant. He is focused, goal-oriented and knows exactly what he wants from life and how to get it. Working isn't something new to Vasco. In his early twenties, he has already worked as a chef, a sculptor's assistant, a teacher and, of course, a model. And a damn good one.
So, how did you start?
I started two years ago. I was working as a sculptor's assistant. A German sculptor based in Portugal. I finished high school, spent a year in London to learn English and, when I came back, I started balancing this work as an assistant with castings. Then I had my first job walking for Nuno Gama.
Were you already in Central Models by then?
Yes. I was on Central even before I went to London. I was in another agency before, Karacter, in thecommercial section. I was going to Karacter to take some Polaroid's and a friend of mine was going to Central also to take some pictures and we went with each other to our agencies. When I went to Central with my friend, Mi (Emília Romano, one of the agency's directors) made me a proposal to stay in Central and work as a commercial model. I did some castings for ads and then I finished high school, went to London, worked as a chef in a Mexican Restaurant and when I came back I started working as a model but in fashion.
So cool! When you were like 18 you had already been a sculptor, a chef and a model!
Yes, and I also taught tennis and surf lessons! Then I started working in fashion and had the opportunity of going to Barcelona and decided to work full time as a model, because I'm in a stage of my life when I really want to travel.
How did the opportunity to go to Barcelona arise?
My booker, Mário, already knew the agency I went to. He proposed I went there, sent some pictures and I went. Had my first experience there for 18 days, then came back for about two weeks and got back in Barcelona for a month. It went really well, I worked a lot, got to go to Amsterdam for a campaign and to Madrid for runway shows.
Where was your longest experience abroad? Barcelona?
Shanghai. To Barcelona I returned once more for a month before going to Shanghai.
For how long have you been working as a model now?
In a serious way, only for about one and a half year.
It's a short amount of time for the experience you have! Most models haven't done this much in this amount of time!
Yes. Also I think for women it is harder than for men. That's my opinion.
We also think so. From what we have been seen it is harder for them to go abroad and work.
Did you prefer Barcelona or Shanghai?
I identified myself more with Barcelona. It has beach, people are more relatable and more relaxed, even though they still care about schedules and are professional. With Chinese people you have to be absolutely on time and you can't fail with anything. And everything is more confusing. You have more castings, bigger work teams, a greater amount of pressure on you... I enjoyed Barcelona a bit more also because of the weather and because it is a much more similar culture to ours.
And from all the work you've done so far, what is the one you will never forget?
Ah, the underwear campaign I did in Amsterdam! They had charcoal and I was supposed to be a miner! They put charcoal all over my body. Then, for the second picture, they poured chocolate all over me and wanted me to pose in a sexy way. I was covered in chocolate, my body was sticky and I was super uncomfortable because I would close my arms and they would stick to my body! I don't think they ended up using that photo.
It ended up being interesting because I like doing different things.
Speaking of different things: did you feel there was a different approach to fashion in Shanghai or Barcelona?
Yes, yes. Shanghai is completely different. You have a lot of works, from catalogues, to magazines, events... They have a lot of events in China, which is cool because you get to travel to different cities because of that. But yes, there is a great diversity of work in China. You end up trying on different kinds of clothes and all. Barcelona is a lot more similar to Portugal. But I think overall things are much busier outside than in Portugal.
It is interesting because when I started working, here in Portugal, I was busy and worked a lot, but then I stopped a bit and I thought it was weird because there aren't a lot of blonde models here. And abroad I found there are a lot more opportunities.
That's something we've noticed: there are not a lot of blonde models in Portugal. Male models.
Exactly. And maybe foreign male models also don't come here frequently.
Maybe there isn't a market here for blondes?
Could be the case, yes.
There have been experiences of discolouring some models' hairs, but it didn't last... In Portugal we don't take many risks. With women maybe, drastically cutting their hairs and all, but we don't usually take big risks regarding model's appearances.
That was one of the things I loved the most about Shanghai. Models who go there to work have to be up to anything. They like to experiment things in you that you never tried before.
Well, I think we know the answer to this next question but... what do you like the most about working in fashion?
To travel. I'm lucky also because the works I've had here in Portugal were always related to my profile and my image. Most were related to surfing and beach, so I always had fun doing them and the results were really good because I was doing what I liked the most.
Did you feel the same in Barcelona? That you would get called also for those kinds of work?
Yes. In one of the campaigns I did, for a Californian shoe brand, everyone from the team was a surfer, from the owners to the makeup artists. I did the casting via Skype when I was still in Portugal and one of the things that probably caught their attention was that I was a surfer.
It's obvious that how models look is important. What other attributes do you think are important for a model to be successful?
You have to eat well, of course, to look healthy. Sport also helps and I love playing sports and know that if I stopped doing it my body would look totally different. But the physical condition isn't all that matters. It is not because you look good that you know how to pose or how to read what the photographer wants from you. It is not just a good body that makes a good picture. You have to know your body and how to react to the mood of the work. And the facial expression is of the utmost importance. I care much more about it actually. I'm not constantly worried about having abs, also because my physiognomy doesn't ask for much muscle. I just try to run in order to keep fit and eat well, because it is important to know what is good and bad for you, as each person has their own problems and the way you eat can affect you skin for example. When I started working, for instances, everything was going great, but I had an acne problem and spent 3 or 4 months without working in order to solve it. It wasn't easy because I wasn't working and was living of the savings I had from my previous work.
And regarding agencies. We know it is important for models to maintain a good relation with their bookers. What do you think is most important regarding your relation with your agency?
I think you need to, at least weekly, be able to talk with your booker. He needs to know not only your availability to work but also any changes that are happening in your life that you feel is important to share with your bookers, so that they can know what is going on with you, what you want to do... even emotionally, they have to be aware of what's going on because, for example, if you are going through a worse phase in your life and they don't know about it maybe they can send you to an assignment that can make you uncomfortable and you won't be at your best for it. It is important to talk to your bookers and visit the agency, so you can show you are available and interested in working.
Have you ever received good advices about working as a model?
Mario, my booker, has always seen how far I could go and has always helped me see what I could achieve in this business. He always gave me great advice. And the owners of my agency, Emília and Tó, they also gave me great advices. Other models with more experience also advised me and I won't forget any of them. I always have in mind my goals, both for my fashion career and for my future life. I always try to do different things and don't like to sit and do nothing. I've always done many things at the same time. If I had a job, I would also have hobbies or I also had two jobs at the same time. When you work in fashion, if you stop for a while you start over thinking. I like to go with the flow and with what life has to offer me, so I don't like to stand still because it gets me thinking about how life is going to be and the uncertainties that it encompasses.
And what advice would you give someone who wants to be a model?
Some friends have already asked me that question. Honestly, I think men shouldn't work in fashion from a very young age, like women do. They should focus first on finding other things that they love doing. I think 18 is a good age to start working as a model, for men. Until then, focus on your future beyond modeling, because a modeling career won't last forever. And then they have to try to keep truthful to themselves and to not get influenced.
You think men need to gain some maturity first...
Exactly. In this business you need someone who can guide you and to have a good head on your shoulders. It is easy to go towards a deviant path.
This will be an obvious one but, besides fashion...
Surf! I was for three months without surfing and when I arrived, going surfing was one of my priorities! My brother has a school that offers some activities, being surf one of them, because we live in a very touristic area (Cascais) and it works really well during the summer, so I help my brother with surfing lessons every time I can, because I already had that experience before going to London and it is something I really like doing.
What about goals, do you have any in particular?
Yes, I do. I want to get to know Asia, to travel to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia... I want to know the most I can of this world. I would also like to know more countries in Europe. When I get back from China again at the end of the Summer we'll see which opportunities arise, but I think I will stay in Europe for a while then. For now I will go to China for three months so I'll try to visit Hong Kong and Macau.
photography Gonçalo M. Catarino
styling Catarina F. Pinto
make up & hair Anabela Gonçalves
model Vasco Gama @ Central Models