Interview with Focu’, Romanian Tattooist, Model and BDSM Activist in London

Tudor Viorel Chelsoi (aka Focu’) is a 27 years old Romanian artist based in London, UK. The easier it is to talk about him, the more difficult it is to actually catalogue his entire activity. Focu’ is a tattoo artist and body-piercer, model by choice, BSDM dominator by fate and even photographer in his spare time (if he’s got any). Considering the stormy lifestyle he seems to live, Tudor still thinks of himself a family man, who just happens to believe in his passions enough to turn them in realities, rather than keeping them at the “dream” stage.

You can read the full interview with Focu below:

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Photo: @maniktakesphotos

Daniel (Cultartes Mag.): You’re a tattoo artist, an alternative model, a hobbyist photographer, a BDSM dominator and who else knows what. Which one would characterize you best?

Focu: It’s gonna be hard to chose one of them, since all of them are a part of me and they all define me in a way or another. I did some modeling before, back home, but didn’t really turn up the way I wanted and I quit. I actually moved in London specially for this reason, to restart modeling and do what I love.

When and how did you start practicing tattoo art and body piercing? Is it more than a day-time job?

I started tattooing 2 years ago, in Romania, and soon after I moved in UK. I am a body piercer for about 10 years, and both of these jobs are my full time jobs for the moment, in the same shop.

How does your work as a tattooist get along with your model life? How did you get involved in modeling anyway?

Well, tattooing is always a pleasure and my dream job, so I can say I can do it at any hour, any time, with a smile on my face. Modeling takes the bit of free time I have left from the job as tattooist, but I make them both work together because I’m not planning to quit any of them any time soon and I love to do something with my time, something that matters.

For now, I have photo shootings Sundays or in the mornings before I start working at the shop. I can say, it’s all a bit “tight” but that didn’t scare me so far. I got involved in modeling back home, as I said before, just by knowing a few photographers who asked me to be their model ‘cause of my look or my attitude, and I realized I actually love being posed and showing a feel, an emotion, a part of me through the photographic art.

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Photo: Eugen Brodner Imagery

Is this activity satisfactory? What is like to be a male model, especially in a foreign country such as UK? Tell me something only a male model would know.

For me, being a model is one of the jobs I always dreamed about and plan to do it since my childhood. Being a model in UK it is, let’s say, a lot easier and a lot more satisfactory than I was expecting! I am an alternative model, and especially here, in London, the market is open to anything, including this field. It’s also a lot easier to find a really good photographer or a model to work with.

“Modeling is like acting – you have to do anything to fit the character and become the character itself”

That’s why I can say: moving here and restarting modeling was one of my best decisions. Something only a male model would know? First thing that comes to my mind would be “make up on your face for a project is actually not that bad”. After all, modeling is a lot like acting, so you have to do anything to fit the character and become the character itself.

How do BDSM practices fit into a male model life? Do they affect your personal life? If so, is it in a good or a bad way?

I was always attracted to BDSM practices; since they are a part of my life for a while now, I don’t feel like they affect my life in any way. Actually, my first photoshoot I had since I got back into modeling was a BDSM shoot, the one I was dreaming about for ages. I could make that possible by starting to collaborate with Francesca Giacomelli, a really known Italian model who just moved in London as well back then and was interested with the idea. She has also a really big influence in my whole work as a model, because she helped me from the start and trough her I made a lot of great connections with awesome people!

Photo: Steve Musgrove
Photo: Steve Musgrove
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Photo: Steve Musgrove

Some artists would say modeling is rather a lifestyle than a job. Would you agree? Did posing for photographers, in different environments, suggesting diverse scenarios and adopting various personalities (depending on the pictorial idea) change you as a person? Did it shape your inner self? Or was it just you all along, expressing yourself more freely while being photographed?

Modeling in my case is a lifestyle! I’m saying that because every shoot I had so far, any idea I worked on was set by me, with my theme and many times my location. Of course, I am always open to something new, but it also matters what I want to transmit through the new set I’m about to work on. On the inside, nothing changed. Modeling doesn’t change my personality, and nothing will do that.

Would you consider yourself a family man? Your original cyberpunk-viking-ish “alternative” looks together with the – let’s say – unorthodox activities you’re involved in don’t really scream “father of the year!”. Is there a line between your work and your private life?

Well, this is a bit harder to explain, but I am also, somehow, a family guy! I have a beautiful son, he is 4 and a half and he still lives in Romania. There’s always a line between work and my private life, always time left for my family, even if the distance is a bit uncomfortable, but I would say, at this point, my work doesn’t affect my private life.

“On the inside, nothing changed. Modeling doesn’t change my personality”

Which was the most challenging project you’ve been part of? Can you name few artists that you created something really cool with?

I worked already in a few challenging projects, like the vampire theme one we (me and Francesca Giacomelli) started with Shaheen Razzaq, or the “regular life of a tattooed couple” me and Francesca started with Munster Cheong, a really known and published photographer in Asia, or I can always add to these projects, the musical sleeve I started on a word wide known Jazz musician, Brett Warren.

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Photo: Yanny Tokyo

Tell me more about your near-future plans and projects.

With me, it’s always about plans. So, just as a general idea, I want to work with the best of the best and get published worldwide. It may sound a bit naïve, but the projects I mentioned earlier will be already published in the near-future (the vampire theme one will be released on Halloween on a couple of magazines here in UK, the one started with Munster will be published in a magazine in Singapore) and, I guess, I can just leave space for something greater! I guess we will all see how my evolution will be soon.

With this occasion, I have to say thanks to the photographer who made everything possible in his studio, Steve Musgrove and the model I work with and my good friend Francesca Giacomelli. Without them, probably none of this would’ve taken place.

Main photo credits: Dean Street Designs. Follow Focu on Instagram and on Facebook for more. Submit your own art at magazine@cultartes.com

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Romanian self-taught writer, interested in contemporary art, unconventional culture and gonzo journalism. He's been writing for almost a decade while doing shitty jobs for a living. He's agnostic, supports a censorship-free world, he reads way less than he wants and he enjoys feminist porn.

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