Well, what can I say about this guy? After completing his degree Tom Brennan decided to uproot and head over to Asia to pursue his interest in teaching. Having now been there for quite some time he is using his individuality to make an imprint on the modelling world. And what an imprint he is making. This unique story interested me so I thought I would ask him some questions to see how he ended up where he is. Here's how it went...
First off, for those who don’t already know you, please introduce yourself...
My name's Tom Brennan and I'm 32. I'm originally from the Oxford area, but I currently live in Seoul. I have lived all over Asia in the past 10 years; Japan, Hong Kong and here. I am an English teacher by day and a model, well by day also :)
What would you say are your top three interests?
Fashion, Football and Technology.
What does a normal day consist of?
A normal day would consist of me, getting up at about 10 am (I'm not an early riser) then either going to a shoot or going to school and then to a shoot. Often I do both my jobs in the same day, depending on the season. In the evening I generally try and a relax and I am currently experimenting with making beard oils (because it is almost impossible to get them in Korea).
Right, now we're into the meat of the interview, I have to ask, what is with the name “Tom and Toms”? Who is the other Tom?
Hahaha. There is no other Tom. Tom and Toms comes from three places A) my name is Tom B) there is coffee shop in Korea called TomnToms and C) many of my friends started calling me TomTom, so I basically mixed them all together.
Haha, ok that makes sense. I'm glad I know, I can finally rest easy! With living in Seoul, do you think it has been easier or harder to break into the modelling world? You must have a very different look to the majority of the population, do you feel that helps or hinders?
Ummm….well it certainly helps to be different, but Korea is quite conservative, so a lot of the bigger brands will stick to more conventional looking models. Also, Korea has a high number of models and most of the brands here, shoot with Korean models. I'll often be shooting with Korean models, to give the brand I'm working with a more international appeal. Completion for someone who looks like me is low, so in terms of getting work it is quite straightforward. I am completely free lance and don't work exclusively for anyone. I don't even do castings 95% of the time.
That's cool, going to castings must be a hassle considering those casting you can already see how you look from your portfolio. If things were to not work out modelling where you currently live, would you consider moving back to the UK to give it a better shot? Or is teaching your main passion?
I was very close to coming back this year, to try my hand in the UK. Ultimately I didn't because I am so busy and it wasn't quite the right time. With being freelance you tend to build relationships more than say an agency model would, therefore you are more likely to get repeat work or be recommended to other brands (and this is what happened), as the fashion industry here is quite close knit.
Well that would be awesome, It'd be great to have you over here as I know a bunch of great people would love to have you involved in their work. I also know that you have dabbled with being a model from a young age, but what has changed to make you take it more seriously of recent?
Well, I did when I was young (19 or so), but I didn't enjoy the casting process and to be honest I looked a hell of lot different then and I wasn't confident or even really comfortable in what I was doing. I decided to go to university and then that led me here. I was turning down work (in Korea and Japan) for a long time (years) before I felt comfortable with modelling again. It wasn't that my first experience was so bad, but I just didn't have the motivation to do it. Obviously that's now changed and I am modelling practically every week in one way or another and enjoying every minute of it.
I'm glad to hear you have managed to 'find yourself', people can always tell when someone is comfortable in their own skin. What has been your favourite thing about being a model, so far?
I like just being on set or in the studio, I enjoy interacting with the people I work with and I like to have a laugh. I'm not the most serious of people (although my pictures may beg to differ) I also just like clothes, I like looking different and I like playing around with different looks.
I get that. I too have always enjoyed being able to not only wear different types of outfits but to actually pull them off. I’ve seen that you have been a part of several cool lookbooks and a number of awesome photo-shoots, but what has been your favourite shoot to be a part of?
Umm...I really like the one I just did for 86road, which is a new denim brand in Seoul. It was a fun shoot and everyone was having a good time. Also the style was right up my alley.
What do you hope to accomplish being in front of the camera, and what would be your ‘Mumma I’ve made it’ moment?
I just hope to keep working one way or another, thankfully I have youthful face (well so people tell me) so I think I've got a few more years left in me yet. As I mainly work for smaller brands here, I would love to get a big national brand or international. I'm currently waiting to hear on doing a shoot with Dr. Martens which would be amazing.
Dr. Martens! Now that would be incredible. I wish you luck dude, and I'll keep my eyes peeled and fingers crossed for it. That aside, who do you hope to work with in the future, be it other models, brands or photographers?
I'm a big fan of the bearded model guys (obvs) Ricki Hall being my favourite, but I also like Billy Huxley, and a few other guys. I would love to work with PandCo in England, as well as Levi's or Calvin Klein.
Hahaha, when I saw your current Instagram profile picture I thought it was Billy Huxley! Not to undermine your own good looks of course. Now, this doesn’t have to be about modelling, but over the years what is the best piece of advice you have been given, and what is the best piece you can give?
"Don't always say yes, saying no is sometimes as important." - David Gandy.
From me: be yourself, if you want to have a beard - have one, if you want tattoos - get some. Be comfortable in yourself and with yourself before getting in front of a camera; awkwardness will always come out. If you don't like how things are going - talk, communicate. These things are important not only for you as a model, but for the client as well.
We're coming to an end now, I promise. But before we go, where do you hope to be in 12 months time?
Honestly I don't know. I have a tattoo on my arm that reads “Vive Hodie” which is Latin for live today (not tomorrow) and that's how I live. I hope to still be working, I hope people still appreciate my work, but ultimately I do it because I enjoy it, not for any other reason.
More importantly, what can we hope to see in the near future?
I'm busy working away, I have some concept shoots coming up, which should be fun. Brand wise, I'm hoping to try and get some bigger ones and move my way up (if only I was 6 foot 2 :/). Summer season is coming to end (shooting wise) and then fall and winter will start in a few months, hopefully I'll have plenty of work to share.
To finish things off I thought I would hit you with some quick fire questions. Don't worry, there's nothing rude coming up.
Fly or Drive? Fly
Hot or Cold? Cold
Sunrise or Sunset? Sunrise
Bath or Shower? Shower
Sweets or Chocolate? Chocolate
Text Kiefer Horlock