In current times where tattoos have long entered the mainstream and have become an integral part of the fashion scene, tattooed models are more popular than ever. There is particularly one name that has been inevitable during the past seasons when it comes to extremely inked looks: Rick Genest, better known as Zombieboy.
In context of our tattoo story “And what are you tattooing today?” which can be found in the current issue #249 of Sportswear International Magazine, we spoke to the 27-year-old Canadian, who lately pocketed the job as Rocawear’s face for their spring/summer 2013 campaign.

How did your career start of? How do you explain your success as a model?
Rick Genest: Being tattooed as a living skeleton, I found work in many stage shows, freak shows, side shows and carnivals, as an illustrated man, geek and fakir. I have landed small parts on TV as well as movies (‘Carny’ staring Lou Diamond Phillips; ‘47 Ronin’ starring Keanu Reaves). I had worked at a pirate themed bar, and had been published in many magazines. One of which, I was invited to model for a fashion magazine named Dressed to Kill. This was the shoot that got the attention of Nicola Formichetti. Thierry Mugler is the brand name that Nicola Formichetti hired me to work for, and soon after, an appearance in Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this Way’ video. Ever since, I’ve been world traveling. I was presented with two Guinness World Records, transformed into two museum life-size replicas, as well as shrunk into an action figure. Alongside modeling, I’ve been keeping busy cat walking at fashion shows, making TV appearances, and lately, I started to Dj parties globally as well. Ultimately, I hope to act more in movies.

You are the face of Rocawear Europe for spring/summer '13. How do you feel about doing that?
Growing up in the city as a teenager, I had always embraced urban culture/lifestyle/clothing. It is a great honor to represent what I eat, and breathe, and bleed for as long as I have. I am excited to be involved with Rocawear’s re-launch across Europe for spring/summer ’13.

How did your “zombie“appearance develop?
The origins of the zombie creaturecame about from stories of people being buried alive in times of plagues and such crisis; who would come out the other side “transformed.” In my life, this was true to me. Growing up as an urban teenager, alongside many moded; this lifestyle was the origin of my bodysuit. Surviving through hardships, such as poverty and illness; derived my anarchistic transitive pictograph verbalization to the world. The common thought of zombies to many, represents a pervasive xenophobia. As in my life, I was often out-casted, hated or misunderstood for being so.
At the age of 17, I was given the name ‘Zombie’ particularly due to my medical history, interests in music, movies and apparel. I had my first tattoo at the age of sixteen; a skull & crossbones.

Punk attitude and tattoos do not forbid being the face of a streeetwear brand: Rick Genest for Rocawear
Punk attitude and tattoos do not forbid being the face of a streeetwear brand: Rick Genest for Rocawear

Are you surprised that tattoos are suddenly such a "trendy" thing?
It’s funny; tattoos have always been a part of the underground. I never had an outside view to notice that they have only now become trendy. Where I grew up, they were always fashionable.

How do you explain the development that suddenly, tattoos are not longer only accepted in society on hidden spots but are okay to be boldly visible?
Historically, tattoos have been around since the dawn of time. They are a way to represent what tribe, family or crew one belongs to; as well as a passage rights to adult-hood. Tattooing has been practiced for centuries in many cultures around the world. Particularly: in Asia, The Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan, traditionally had facial tattoos. One can find Atayal of Taiwan, Berbers of Tamazgha (North Africa), Hausa people of Northern Nigeria, Kurdish people in East-Turkey, and Māori of New Zealand with facial tattoos. Tattooing was widespread among Polynesians and among certain tribal groups in Africa, Borneo, Cambodia, Europe, Japan, the Mentawai Islands, MesoAmerica, New Zealand, North America and South America, the Philippines, and Taiwan. The island of Great Britain takes its name from tattooing; Britons translates as "people of the designs". I believe it’s only the past couple of generations, which we lost our heritage and union with nature.