Gino Baileau, a sophomore and photography major at the University of Illinois, is already gaining a reputation on campus for his amazing work. Even notorious celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton, took notice of him enough to feature him and his photography on his fashion blog Coco Perez in February. With his adorably outrageous persona backed by incredible talent, his future will definitely not be a quiet one.
HC: Tell us little bit about your background before you got to UIUC
I am from a suburb twenty minutes outside of Chicago. It’s a small little Italian community, and I was one of the first people in my family to college, so it was kind of a big deal for me to leave.
HC: Did you always aspire to become a photographer?
No, I applied into the university as an art major and I knew I wanted to do something art-related, I just didn’t know what media I wanted to go for. My freshman year I went through art foundations, where you had to try out different art forms. Late in the second semester of my freshman year, I discovered photography, and it’s been a little over a year since I joined the major.
HC: Do you have any photographers that inspire you?
I really enjoy vintage photography. One of my favorite photographers is Richard Avedon. He is one of the first photographers, in my eyes, that didn’t really care about what society wanted to see but, more so, gave society what he wanted to see. And although he wasn’t a photographer, I do appreciate Andy Warhol’s work. He is where I get my obsession with plastic world from. I genuinely believe that he’s living on through my work. One of my favorite pieces by him was actually called “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable”. Andy Warhol once said “I was never really a machine but I would love to be one”. I feel like it’s one of the main quotes that inspires and explains my work.
HC: So you’re main focus is Fashion and Beauty photography, do you see yourself expanding to other forms of photography?
Absolutely not. Fashion and beauty photography are very emotionless. Everything is so crisp and glossy. A world where everything can be perfect and created by me is one that I would never want to leave.
HC: So you don’t think you express yourself and your emotions through your photography?
I don’t think any of my photography reflects any type of emotion that is born in my head. It’s not an emotion, it’s a thought. There’s a difference. A thought turns into an idea, then a concept, then a visual…and that’s how I work.
HC: What is your reason for wanting to portray this plastic world through your work?
The way I think of our world is that it’s plain. I just don’t see myself living in today’s society. People live in a world of mass-consumption where clothing makes you feel beautiful, but it does not make you beautiful. A lot of the times you can’t buy what I create. In my eyes, if everyone strives to look the way I want them to look, that would be a beautiful thing, honestly.
HC: You were given your own feature on Perez Hilton’s blog in February, why did he reach out to you?
Well, in the beginning of the New Year he put up a post saying that he would be using the year 2011 to focus on and feature young designers. Every month he would make a post of somebody that he felt needed to be shared with the world. I emailed him asking him why he is only featuring designers because I feel like photographers are very under-appreciated in the fashion industry. I went on to explain to him how the fashion world would be nowhere without photographers, but we’re always just put in the background. There’s America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway, which gives a lot of opportunities to models and designers and I guess I’ve just been waiting for that to change. When the opportunity didn’t come, I realized that you have to make your own opportunities.
HC: Are there any opportunities you’d like to create or see on this campus?
I would appreciate seeing more fashion photographers on campus. Even my teachers are really interested in why I’m so drawn to fashion and beauty. From what I’ve heard from my teachers, there haven’t really been many students with a focus in that field. I get a lot of appreciation for doing what I do, but I would like to see other people’s work in the same field on this campus.
HC: You’ve participated in a lot of Fashion projects on this campus and we’ve been seeing your work around a lot- how did you get involved with that?
It all started on campus for me with DollHouse 67. It was the first fashion group I joined and was given the position of Head Photographer for their magazine. Being involved with Dollhouse opened up a lot of opportunities for me, like College Couture Week, which just passed. For example, there was a Top Model contest that I was the photographer for. The resulting images of that competition are some of my favorite photos. College Couture Week allowed me to meet the staff of Impulse Magazine, who I am photographing for in their next fall issue.
HC: What would your dream job be if you can forget about any future obstacles? Whose position would you want to see yourself in, or maybe create your own position?
This is a personal problem of mine because I have this thing where I don’t necessarily think of what I want to do with my life as I’m living, I’m the type of person that more so thinks about my career after I’m dead. I know it’s really strange but I want to be that photographer whose work was so iconic that time couldn’t stay still for it. Everybody has a story but nobody’s listening, so I guess my dream goal would be for my story to be heard.