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Interview Bobby Hicks

A brew by bobby.

From bartending, to fashion, to blogging, to instagram followers.. Where do you start with Bobby Hicks? Tell us a little about yourself?

— My girlfriend, Keiko, has been an influencer for years. She started everything with a Livejournal account, and eventually moved to Myspace, Facebook, making her blog, IG and so on. Because she’d been doing it for so long, a lot of people had already seen photos of me and would ask to see more – so we started taking photos. Everything started for me with Lookbook – that was when I started to get people that wanted to follow me.

I honestly never took any of it seriously, thinking I could never fit the mold of what I had to be to inspire people and to make a living from it. So, I learned how to tend bar from some incredible people that saw I had promise. I quickly moved up to work at several of the best cocktail bars in the world and, when I felt I needed change, I left the bar industry. Since, I found a passion in personal fitness and have spent the past couple years educating myself and others in living a healthy lifestyle.

Recently, I signed to an agency that has helped me develop stronger content and has allowed me opportunities I had only dreamed of. I’m only trying to work harder and every day I’m hunting for the best content in lifestyle, fitness and travel.

Bobby Hicks

How did ‘This fellow’ come about? Are you claiming the respect for coming up with such a brilliant handle?

— Not at all, I owe everything to my girlfriend, Keiko. She has always been my biggest advocate and has always been the one to push me in the right direction and help me, when I needed advice. She was the one to recommend that I start a blog and when I was looking for a name helped!

She asked, “What’s your favorite book, right now?” and I told her it was the Complete Collection of short stories by Flannery O’Connor. We flipped through and she found an excerpt from “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” mentioning the antagonist the story, The Misfit, as This Fellow. It just rang, at the time.

What were your first initial thoughts around blogging? Did you think you would be any good at it?

— I never thought I’d be any good at it – honestly, still think I’m not that great at it, haha. I’ve never been great about opening up and expressing myself in prose and would rather just stick to taking photos. But it’s been a great way for me to learn to write more about myself. If I had to write a short story about another person, or some fictitious character, I’d be fine, but as soon as I have to write about myself, it’s over. This interview itself is the hardest thing I’ve done in weeks, haha.

Have you ever doubted your ability to write? How did you go about improving or reassuring yourself?

— Every time I write a sentence about myself, I delete most of it and then rewrite it over and over. I’m terrible at writing about myself, not my ability to write, but when your life is about creating a story of yourself that others can live vicariously, it’s a skill set I’ve had to work toward. I’ll never feel confident in my ability to write about myself, but I think the positivity I get from my readers encourages me to continue and to continue to spread my message of fun, love, exercise and smiles.

You have north of sixty odd thousand followers @thisfellow, how does that make you feel? Is it possible for everyone and did you really think fifty thousand people would be interested in what you would be doing on a daily basis?

— When I started out, I was so excited to have even a couple thousand followers. I’ve never looked at myself as someone that others would look up to, but just another guy, in another city, who happened to enjoy smiling, meeting people and living life. I’m not the most stylish guy, nor am I the fittest guy, but I think that the people that have taken the time to follow my page believe in my authenticity, which makes me absolutely confident for others to get where I am.

It’s pretty common to find a lot of influencers with over 100K followers that don’t have the same engagement I have. Some may have purchased followers early on, to get a leg up in the field, but I just continued to build great content and maintain a platform that was accessible to my brand. Anybody can get followers, but it’s important to step away from that mindset and realize that you need to build trust and relationships for people to stay with your page. It’s better to be yourself than just a flash in a pan.

Do you run to a plan or schedule when it comes to posting? Or is Bobby Hicks a ‘take it as it comes’ kinda guy?

— I try to be organic about my posting, but there is definitely some planning, when your demographic spreads across varying continents. If I post something at noon in NYC, it’s still 9am in LA, and it’s 2am in Australia. I have to be mindful of these things because most of my followers are not in the East Coast United States.

Our local birdies mention you have a wonderful partner that also shares quite the audience on social media, do you take inspiration from one another and describe what kind of influence she has had on your ability to chase your dreams?

— As I mentioned before, none of this would be possible without Keiko (@keikolynn). She has always been the most supportive and also most logical person to help me. If something doesn’t fit my brand or if I need help, she’ll tell me what I could do better, to keep a solid focus. It’s really easy to just post silliness, because I’m a pretty silly guy, but she’s helped me learn how I can succeed with my accounts and keep a relationship with my followers, which is most important to me. I owe her everything.

I dress to remind me what life is. Sometimes life is complicated and messy, other times it’s beautiful and pressed.

Bobby Hicks

If Bobby Hicks wasn’t blogging, instagraming or being a source of inspiration when it comes to art, writing and fashion, what would he be doing?

— I’m all over the place, honestly. I’m so enamored by life that I find little hobbies everywhere I go. Jack of all trades, as it were. But I love fitness and have always related to staying active and working with other like- minded people in that realm, so I’d probably become an instructor full-time in some kind of fitness-related aspect.

Do you think it’s important to define yourself? If so, why?

— I don’t think it’s important to define yourself to anyone other than yourself. Everyone is unique and I think the problem with most kids is not understanding that it’s important for you to understand yourself and not to portray what others should think of you. Without that sense of self, you’re lost and often muddle how you present yourself to others. Nothing is more inspiring than self-confidence, and I think that’s why a lot of people relate to me. I’m a very average guy who knows who he is and it’s refreshing to others and sacred to me.

We watched an interview recently where you mention ‘ Dress for the job you want not the job you have’.

— It’s a pretty well-known quote that I think speaks volumes about the person you want to be. When I would tend bar in the past, I used to work at a pretty regular restaurant. There was no dress code, so usually everyone wore jeans, t-shirts and a hat. I liked it, but the cocktail bars that I respected were filled with well-dressed men and women. I started dressing up and suddenly everyone noticed. People thought I was the bar manager and soon those cocktail bars noticed me, too. I found that dressing the way you wanted, for the setting you wanted, always brought the respect of those who mattered. It was a confidence booster and I live by that code still. But it’s also important to keep your identity and not lose yourself to an idea.

What are your thoughts on fashion and it’s impact on your emotions, inspiration, motivation and simply dream chasing? Do you think it helps?

— I think it depends on where you look. Dapper dressing is timeless, but there are some people that have changed the way that we look at clothing. Alexander McQueen took fashion and combined it with beauty, horror and surrealism, making it a medium that transcended anything we had thought in the past. And then others, like John Varvatos, brought punk and rock into the mix, evoking an energy of rebellion and youthfulness that is so identifiable and relatable. I think fashion is such a unifying connection that we all share and defend to the death.

Do you dress to remind you of what you are chasing in life?

— I dress to remind me what life is. Sometimes life is complicated and messy, other times it’s beautiful and pressed. I try not to think about how I’m dressing too much and just wear stuff, because style isn’t what you wear but how you feel wearing it.

Name the 3 things Bobby Hicks must have with him at all times?

  1. Obviously my beanies. I am not known for conventional hats – they just don’t wear well on me, I think.
    But I love wearing beanies. Mostly to hide my hair from my eyes, haha.
  2. My phone. Because I live in a real-time social media world, I have to be able to snap, IG or reply to an email right away.
  3. My Dad’s poker card. He passed away a few years ago, and when I was clearing out our house, I found this random stack of poker cards. He didn’t really play cards, but something about this card drew me toward it. I keep the Joker card in my wallet at all times because it was the first card in the stack that I grabbed, and it felt appropriate. I’ll probably get it tattooed on me one day.

What was the last song played on your playlist?

— I’m one of those people that will listen to one record for a month, loving it each time, until I find another that feels better. Right now, I’ve been binging on the new Moderat record “III.” It’s brilliant, catchy, and stimulating. It makes me feel relaxed and alert at the same time.

Last movie you watched?

— I just finished up attending the Tribeca Film Festival and last watched “Equals,” which is probably the best film I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t say enough nice things about the beauty and power this film carries and how it left me feeling long after it was over.

Go to outfit in summer and winter?

— Pretty much the same thing, just with a heavier jacket for the winter. Usually it’s Levi’s black denim, a button-up plaid shirt or t-shirt and a pair of Chuck Taylors with a Denim or Leather jacket. It’s essentially my uniform and it looks great on anybody, literally.

Bobby Hicks

What are some of your favourite sources for your own inspiration? Do you follow anyone in particular?

— I am tremendously fortunate to be great friends with the people that inspire me most. My friend Nathan McCallum (@isnathan), from Australia, is one of my best friends – we just clicked and really bonded. I consider him an inspiration for his look at life and his ability to wear what he knows so well. There is also Denny Balmaceda (@Denny623), who has such an effortless ability to match vintage with modern wear. I think he has the best style of anyone I know. There are so many others, but I’m honestly blessed to call these guys my close friends.
It’s so great, too, because we, as male influencers, work to lift each other up. If I’m in Manhattan, I’ll text everyone, let them know and see if they need photos, which they’ll reciprocate. Right now, I’m in LA, and it’s the same out here, where the West Coast guys are all so eager to hang out, collaborate and create content with friends. I only wish the world knew how amazing and down to earth all of these guys are, and to look past the amount of followers they have, because they are all more than their Instagram pages.

You are quite covered in ink, were you nervous getting tattooed for the first time?

— Haha, I’ve been working with and friends with tattoo artists since I was 16 years old. The day I turned 18, I got my first tattoos, and it’s been a wonderful journey working with so many talented and passionate tattooists over the years. I’m nowhere near done getting tattooed and still have a few places left to work with. My goal is to grow into an old man, with white hair and a big beard, being way cooler than all the other old men.

The majority of one of your arms is of Japanese inspiration, do you have any plans for another piece and what’s it inspired by?

— Actually, my entire right side of my body, plus my feet are inspired by traditional Japanese tattoos. There is still plenty I need to finish it all, but I’ve learned that patience is your ally, when dealing with anything permanent. With tattoo artists you just meet the right one, at the right time in your life, and then commit.

One day I’ll finish my work, but I’ve got some time.

Will Bobby Hicks ever write a book? If it wasn’t about your own life, what would it be about?

— When I was in college, I was actually going to school as a creative writer. Some of my biggest literary influences were Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ayn Rand and Flannery O’Connor. Their writing really inspired me to see the detail and microcosm in life and to appreciate those delicate things that many overlook. I actually did write a book, when I was about 22 – a dystopian novel that I basically scrapped because I wasn’t confident in my abilities yet. Maybe in another twenty years I’ll work on it again and publish it under a pseudonym.

Do you get recognized in the street a lot? How does it make you feel?

— Honestly, it’s hard to tell. Sometimes people do take the time to say “Hey,” and it makes me feel incredible! People are so wonderful and I usually get a comment left on my page saying something, like, “I saw you at such and such, but didn’t say anything.” Every time I reply with how much it would’ve meant to meet them. But it’s hard to tell if people recognize me or just think I’m an interesting-looking tattooed guy because most people in NYC will never stop and just talk to you, haha. It’s always in the most unusual places, like when I’m walking my dog or when I’m sweaty and working out, and not when I’m at an event or when I’m actually dressed nicely. I’d like to think I’m an approachable person, but I think it also takes a large degree of courage to stop a stranger that you may admire and tell them so.

I did get asked to shoot a vibrator for an adult website. Considering I focus on landscapes and nature in my work, I figured they must have emailed the wrong person.

Bobby Hicks

Strangest question a fan has asked you and how did you respond?

— Somebody asked me once if I could send them photographs with my signature. It was honestly really flattering but I didn’t know how to react because I’ve never really understood the signature thing, unless it’s from a Beatle or something. But I sent him several photos, signed, and a handwritten thank you note for being such a great person. Again, I think that taking the time to ask someone for an autograph takes so much courage. I’m just so casual that I don’t think I’m worthy of signing anything for someone, haha.

Does Bobby Hicks have any big plans in the next 2-3 years?

— I’ve been working on a gymnastic ring program over the past 6 months. It’ll be a 16 week, 4 part program that will include exercises for beginners that have never touched gymnastic rings, to more advanced athletes. But I did my program myself and even the simplest movements in Level 1 will kick your ass.
My goal is to introduce different programs over the years and eventually open a gym or have a larger partnership where I can take my passion with fitness to a larger platform.

Could you see yourself working for a big brand? What don’t you like about it?

— I’ve worked with many large brands and I don’t have any problem with them. I think that the only problems with some larger brands is the lack of communication. By the time I get the details for my projects, the content has been passed through so many different channels that I’m left with very little time to finish everything, and usually have to redo or re-edit certain things with unrealistic timelines. But it’s still rewarding to me – I love a challenge.

Next place to travel for @thisfellow?

— I cannot wait to go to Australia. I’ve wanted to visit AU since I was a kid, but never considered it as a viable place to travel because I wouldn’t know where to start. But over the years, I’ve befriended some wonderful people that I would love to meet in or near Sydney. So, I’d love to get to Sydney and see my buddy Nathan before the end of this year, when they’re hitting their warmer months.

Any secret hints we can give away for the next big project on the horizon?

— I’m working on a project I’ve designed on my own, with my friend, Denny. We’re getting ready to do a road trip from Seattle, Wa to San Diego, Ca over a two week period of time. It’ll just be four guys, driving through the west coast, documenting life through photo, video and writing. I cannot wait to see where the road will take us, who we’ll meet and what crazy stories will come out of this trip.
Lots of people think that the opportunities and travel we do is just handed to us, but that’s not always the case. It’s a very competitive world, so sometimes I have to make something happen and build the foundation to allow the opportunity to present itself.

Bobby Hicks is quite the interlect, what’s some of the greatest advice you have received over time? Who out of your family is your inspiration and why?

— My Dad taught me the importance of respect and hard work, explaining that nothing in life is handed to you, and that you have to earn your way. I always kept that in mind, when I was growing up and felt so much pride when I would hold three jobs at a time in NYC because I knew it would make him proud.

My mom taught me to laugh, love and smile as often as I could. I still think about her every time I smell flowers in the air or see a horse, and it makes me so happy.

What’s your advice for those wanting to follow a similar pathway to you?

— Be patient. Nothing good comes quickly, and for those that do, it’ll usually end just as fast. To be an influencer, you have to be able to influence, and that comes with trust, which comes with time. Many of my cohorts have hundreds of thousands of followers (or more) but they all respect me because even though I may have only 50K followers (which is still a lot, I know), my audience is stronger than most of theirs. You can’t get one person, let alone thousands of people to trust you or be interested in you, if you cannot connect with them. It took years of experimenting with my style, page, content and life to get to this point, where I think I’ve been happiest. At the end of the day, I may never reach 100K followers, but I’m so proud to be seen by the many that follow me now, and it’s more than I ever thought I’d see.

Bobby, it’s been nice chatting over one of your fine cocktails. Thank you for spending it with the Ledin Gray crew.

— It’s been a pleasure to chat and these are some of the best questions anyone’s ever asked me!
This has been Bobby Hicks with Ledin Gray.

Any lasting words legend?…

— “No noble and exalted life exists, without knowledge of devils and demons, and without continual struggle against them.” Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game (1943)

This passage was always one of my favorites because it’s such a concise and accurate line that has more relevance to our generation than ever before. Not in a religious context, but in the sense that we, as people, cannot truly live until we accept and address our inner antagonist.