Whiskerino : A beard for a season

I was growing a beard for the last four months. There is nothing extraordinary about me growing a beard, but this was for a reason, a purpose if you will. I was growing a beard to celebrate the beard in Whiskerino, the behemoth of beard contests.

“We are alienated from our own facial hair. Society tells us that full beards are unacceptable. Businessmen, politicians, bankers, and the like are all clean shaven; all demonstrating the standards that middle class society expects us to maintain.”
from the Whiskerino About page

Whiskerino first surfaced on my internet radar back in 2008. That year’s contest had recently finished and I thought that it would be a real cool thing to do next time round, so I put a note in my calendar in the future. The future arrived in 2009. The start date was November the 1st and I had begun a journey. I shaved away my regularly appearing facial hair. Mackle, the leader of the beard pack was very kind to let me in after the site had reached it’s 400 beard original capacity on the opening day (eventually there was over 500 participants). Given the time zone difference I had allowed myself some extra time before I uploaded my first photo. It was 3 am eternal. I was in Whiskerino.

Thus a four month growing and showing of beard had begun. Whiskerino the third and final (hopefully not) chapter of an online beard growing contest was a great thing for me to do. The site forms a community of beard appreciators willing to grow it as far as it goeth in one hundred and twenty days. You must upload a photo at least once a week as proof of staying in the game, else you might end up in the Hall Of Shame. My attendance was not great in the beginning but I improved, uploading a photo every day for the last month, February giving me a 72.5% full calendar of beard imagery for my efforts. The site showcases some of the most amazing photography from some of the most creative people on the internets. It was great fun to browse the daily offerings of creativity abundant on the site and there was always some treats from people who really pushed the envelop and made this thing a joy to be part of. Some of the best of these got a place in the King Beard gallery every day but there were many more favourites.

One of the best things about Whiskerino was being pushed to create something good everyday. The calibre of some of the people’s creativity spurred me to do better and do some crazy stuff indeed. Us beards are such attention seekers! I was really inspired by the images put forward and by the external work of the following people (and this list is by no means exhaustive); @mackle @ulaocealleigh @jnonfiction @andrew @brandonhill, @mattyc @ growershower @jkentr @folliclejuju @yourfavorite @blankenship @furricane @irishsquire @spoonyb @minsattack @elldub @phil @ben @benfrank @thestride @jar @sirjellobeard @wiseacre @tedford @shotgunwillie @flainez @mercantilever @vanbert @zackle @motke @jason @barefoot @wilcoxjd @nedkelly @marko @pip @ty @fledglingbrewer @ozzynelson @moo @roo @burney @chadmacclarnon @dschonn @jclutch @chadpugh @shularbrau @thatguy @gavin @jracecar @miguelito @finnmaccool @chinfropro @poe @yogibeard @justjamie @c @whiskerbert @bryanhunter @kms @digihurl @ewagoner @kidstatic @beardgoggles @kimjongillness @keifel @mu @dirtypirate @revgoomba @jeremyokai @mikedemonk @matwiseman @pcain @johnatcollege @elbarbudo @trickyd @hankbobs @arthur @michaeljstraub @caronna @grownunknown @armyofwhiskers @abar @hilmterry @ryan @sirwalshington @renaud @zbolin @xjdunn @fofe @jmathiasxiii @jamiedubs @brandon @letranger @rolfbastard @matthewmoore @matthewcallis @soulglow1976 @ericthebeard @twistedsistare @gragaband @cdub @robberfly @robfrenzy @herrneas @rnnbrwn @mattmarch @fexd @grapes @tolleson @9schwander @wondermade @sagish @voltron @masonnbernard @hale @cpu
Thank you and everyone who took part in this Whiskerino.
Connect with me in the usual places. My door is always open to you.

At times I wondered whether I would make it to the end. Not that I wouldn’t keep growing a beard but it was a challenge to produce an image each day and engage with the community by commenting on other profiles. I wish I could have done more in this regard but I could not afford the time. There is a desire to get a coveted Kind Beard and that drives everyone to challenge themselves, it certainly did for me. Even though I often felt some of my better offerings went unnoticed, I was always rewarded for my taking part and reaching the end of it. We are all Kings of beards. I’ve never done anything like this and I felt it would be good to overcome some of my camera shyness and dip my toe in the water of performance. I’ve worked behind the camera, in photo and video thus far in my career path and I’ve always hit a brick wall when it comes to presenting things for myself, be it public speaking or the need for me to be in my own audio visual work. I enrolled in Whiskerino to address this and I have to say it has made a huge difference to me. I feel more confident about what I need to do over the coming months. People have asked me what is Whiskerino in aid of, in that other contests like this are often used to raise money for a charity. There isn’t any particular cause per say but participants are welcome to use their Whiskerino experience to raise awareness for a particular concern and many have done that. Me, I had plans in that regard, but they didn’t unfold. For me it was ultimately about being part of a creative community and I hope to collaborate with some of the other participants in work someday.

I have had great fun with the photographs and did my best to represent my country by showcasing some of Irish history. On a freezing Winter Solstice I went with my friend and great photographer John Waldron, to get a photo of me being pronounced High King by the Lia Fáil stone on the Hill Of Tara! This was symbolic given I have been working on a documentary about this place since 2007 and I felt it would be a good way to promote this. Crazy as I am though, we drove out there in the afternoon as it was getting dark, all for accuracy of getting the shot at the right time, not the bright time! The photos came out very well indeed, considering our frozen fingers!

(click to see this on Whiskerino)
(click here to see all the Tara photos)

For another photo I found a part of a book, A Social History of Ancient Ireland, on archive.org dealing with the history of the beard in ancient Ireland. This passage caught my eye and thus I presented the image :

It was disgraceful to have the hair and beard trimmed short. When Cuculainn had his hair and beard cut off by Curoi mac Daire, who had vanquished him in single combat, and inflicted this humiliation on him, he remained in a hiding-place till both grew sufficiently long to be presentable. None others but nobles, chiefs, and warriors were permitted to wear the full beard : and those who wore it were bound by laws of honour to be brave and generous, never to retreat in battle, never to resort to mean ways of fighting, never to engage in manual or servile labour, and to be always ready to relieve distress. Working people were prohibited from wearing beards, so that they were expected to shave at least once a month. (click to see big)

see this on the Whiskerino site

Ireland was represented north and south in this Whiskerino. IrishSquire from Banbridge and myself, Dizzywizard of Kilkenny. I had the pleasure of meeting up with IrishSquire and his family in Dublin on Sunday afternoon. Alas, we had both succumbed to the razor. Big thanks for being my first Whiskerino alumni meet in the real world. If there is another, Nashville is calling!

Finally I want to thank my girlfriend, Anne-Marie for putting up with me turning the house upside down and having an ever-present photo studio in the living room, for helping me with many of the shoots and choosing images from big batches. She has been great to put up with me anyway, but in this instance she deserves spacial recognition. The star of my photograph on December 19th was her cat, Jean Jacques le Chat and sadly he has moved on to the catnip paradise in the sky. His time was sadly taken away at six years of age by the wheel of a car the other day.



So that’s it. The Whiskerino chapter is closed and I leave you with a couple of beard melodies, the first being a montage of all the participants and the second is a rewind through my images including the outtakes and many images not used.

BIG whiskers : Whiskerino from itison on Vimeo.

this goes out to all the beards in this Whiskerino.

the BEARD : Whiskerino from itison on Vimeo.

To the beard. Let’s bring back it’s good reputation.

Go to Dizzywizard’s Whiskerino Profile

Go to Gallery of my extras

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