Steve Elias, master stylist, NAHA icon and founder of the new Tantalum Magazine, sits down with creative genius Damien Carney for a candid talk about the inspiration behind his latest editorial project “Ignite My Imagination.” Below is an excerpt of the interview:

STEVE: Damien, your editorial “Ignite my Imagination” is wonderful, can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind this shoot?

DAMIEN: The concept was all about mixing and matching. Some of the clothes are vintage and some not. Each image is different.  I didn’t want the shoot to appear too organized or thought out. The same for the hair and make up.

STEVE: What does a day like this usually consist of?

DAMIEN: It’s busy, busy most of the day, but not chaotic. The wardrobe stylist usually presents most of the clothes, shoes and accessories to the team so we can all get the vibe, direction and feel for the overall shoot. Then I usually complete the hair 80%, then over to make up and nails, and then back to me to complete the look. I shot the images and did the hair, so I had 2 jobs that day. I used a lot of hair pieces: Wigs, partial wigs, and the models’ real hair. But all false hair was pre-done before going to the studio. I knew the kind of looks I was going for and what I would have to do on the day. Preparation and organization is key, but the creative spirit should flow at all times.

There were 3 models and we were looking to get 4 to 5 looks from each girl. When you’re working with a great team and fab models, the pace and speed is continuous and really quite easy. We started at 9am and finished by 5.30pm.

STEVE: So your hair has to complement the team’s efforts?

DAMIEN: And the team complements my hair. No one element stands out: All the elements add up to a great photo. Sometimes, I’ll have to work hard at creating something and then it will be under played and simple. Neither is right or wrong, it all depends on what you’re looking for, the concept, photography,etc. Finding the right balance is simple. Think FASHION when styling the hair. Don’t think salon hair at all, unless it’s part of the concept.

STEVE: How do you find that Balance?

DAMIEN CARNEY: Balance comes with experience. The more you do, the more you learn what works and what doesn’t. You have to know when you’ve done enough and when to stop rather than over doing things. The old saying “less is more ” is often more powerful than focusing on multiple things that can be distracting.  Concentrate on the model, how that person will look with your hair treatment. In the past I’ve overlooked that key point: The hair looked good, but it didn’t look amazing on the model. Have a concept or hair ideas, don’t set the looks in stone, and be flexible. Go with your gut instincts. If you don’t like it – change it.

CLICK HERE to read the full interview with Damien Carney and other amazing artists in the September issue of Tantalum Magazine.

About Steve Elias

Steve Elias has more than 16 year experience as a master and editorial stylist. A nine-time nominee and two-time winner  of NAHA, Steve is a guest artist for major haircare brands and a constant fixture at NYC Fashion week. See steve’s personal work at or follow his hair pages on twitter and facebook to find out about his latest editorial, classes, etc.  His latest project, Tantalum Magazine, was launched in September: See it at