The Modern Effect

6 March 2019

‘I look at everything and there is so much to see.’

The sound of four laptops harmoniously tapping across keyboards. A cat that doesn't meouw quietly walks from laptop to laptop, politely waiting for some love or someone to tell her she is pretty. Four cups of tea. This is a typical scenario at the BBG office. This kind of syncronised scenario is interrupted by Brian Whittaker at Select Models, as he strolls into our space. Taking full advantage of the sunny day, he is invited to the balcony with a cup of tea for aa BBG style interview.

With a deep, velvety voice Brian shares his stories and humour flecked tales of screaming girls on escalators, real life giant squids and his travels around America. Incredibly humble and seeminly wise beyond his years, at such a young age it's crazy to think that Brian has experienced as much as he has. His unique story unfolds his winding path from being that shy kid in school that didn't quite fit in to the confident boy he is today.

Digging into his new Instagram fame, we are curious about how he got to be so popular on the social media and get his thoughts on how he feels about it all and his thoughts on how Instagram is influencing the youth of today.

What sort of adventures has the life of Brian included so far?
I did a bit of travelling over summer as my family travel a lot. We have been to places such as Japan and all around America. We have done a lot of adventuring over the years.

What was it like being in a car with your family for that long?
When I was younger I didn't mind it, it was great. The travelling did effected me and my school life though. I would always have these experiences and I would talk about them, but no one would know what I talking about which was strange.

Instant Analogue by Cecilie Harris. Special thanks to IMPOSSIBLE.

That must have been even more extreme for Japan right?
Yeah. Sometimes I am very observant. I just see everything and there is a lot to see. I saw giant squids and other amazing things like that.

How do you think traveling while you were young has affected you as a person?
It has given me confidence to travel around more on my own. Some people my age would hate to go places on their own, because they don't know how an airport works or so on. It has taught me a lot about how to travel properly.

What do you do when you are not modelling?
I do take some pictures here and there. I have recently started going to the gym as well.

You have so many followers on your Instagram!
It all happened quite fast, but you just sort of get used to it. Six months ago it seemed crazy to me to have over 100,000 followers and I wouldn't have even been able to imagine what that would be like, but now that I am there I have gotten used to it. Instagram is just another app isn't it. It is nice, because in public I will get stopped by people going "Oh my god, you're Brian from Instagram!" That happened a couple of times, especially in Birmingham where I am from. It is nice to interact with people on my Instagram. I had to do a bit of clothes shopping the other day and I was looking terrible in my tracksuit, and while I was there this girl was shouting at me down an escalator going 'oh my god you're Brian' haha. Or I’ll get tapped on the shoulder and someone will say 'oh my god I’ve been following you for a long time man. Well done'. That was really nice.

How does it feel when people come up to you?
For my friends it is weird, but for me I don't really mind it. It is cool to meet new people.

Are you quite a sociable person?
Yeah I try to be. I used to be very socially awkward. I still am sometimes now, but it is a lot better than it was. A year ago I didn't have the confidence to speak to anyone. I would just use as little words as possible. People don't realise, but I used to be very, very shy. That is one way that Instagram has helped me, because you have all these people trying to talk to you, which helped me to learn to talk to people and to build social skills.

Do you think your Instagram has affected your modelling?
Yeah definitely. That is how I actually got into modelling. I was scouted through Instagram by another model.

That must have been really surreal.
What happened was this guy who had over 20,000 followers on Instagram commented on one of my photos and said hey, where are you based? I told him and then sent him a DM as I didn't really know why he was commenting on my picture, because at the time to me that was a huge profile. He messaged me back and said he thought I would get really far in modelling and he said I should call his agent, so I did. They asked for a couple of pictures and then said they liked me and that I should go into the agency and meet everyone. I did and they took a few polaroids. I was feeling really happy about it as it was a great agency. Me being 15 at the time and being in school did mean that I wasn't able to do much at first though. There are a lot of things you can't do when you are 15. When you turn 16 is when you get to start doing a lot of stuff. I have just turned 16 this year and I love it. Hopefully a big year. I have just finished school.

Are you quite an easy going person?
Yeah, I am easy going. I just go with the flow.

What advice would you give to people who want to do modelling?
Don't feel self conscious. I get a lot of messages asking how I got into modelling, and messages where people say they feel self conscious or they think they are too nervous or shy. If you apply for modelling, no one is going to know other than yourself and the people you applied to, so there is no reason to be self conscious. The agencies deal with a lot of people and they are not going to insult you or anything. I think confidence is really important. Personally I feel that for my first job I didn't do very well. I don't know how they felt, but as you do more you get more confident, which means you get better. I have only been doing this for 6 months and most of the time I have been in school doing my GCSE’s. For my first modelling job I look back and think I could have done a lot better and I could have been easier to work with, but for the second one I was trying to really work on that and I tried to be the best model I could be. That helped bring out my confidence. Especially with people behind the scenes telling me I did a good job. When they put it up online it got a lot of reposts and that helped my confidence too. These social media apps can have an effect on your life to an extent. I am grateful for my Instagram, which has given me some great opportunities.

Introduction by Katy Thomas.
Interview by India Opie-Meres.

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