Artistic Director for Matrix, Patrick McIvor is one of the top hair colorists in the industry. Over the last 27 years, he has held such positions as Color Director, International Haircolor Educator, Salon Owner, and National Technical Training Manager for companies like Clairol, Wella, and Redken 5th Avenue NYC. McIvor focuses on revolutionary haircolor techniques that inspire hairdressers to achieve great color, but also strives to provide innovative salon-based ideas and techniques to help salon professionals transform their passion for beauty into professional success.
Tell us a little bit about your background as a colorist—how did you choose this as a profession?
I kind of fell into this industry by accident. As an economics minor, I was always aware of supply and demand. The college I went to had 77 guys and 900 women because it had just gone coed the year before in 1985. Because it was a small college and in a very small town—Dallas, PA—there were very few opportunities to find a way to make some extra money to go see my girlfriend in Pittsburg, where she was going to school. So I thought, what do 900 women need? Haircuts! I went into town, bought a pair of scissors, and hung up a sign that said haircuts $5. By mid-semester break, I was cutting so many people I could see my girlfriend about every 2 weeks, and when my mom asked me what I wanted to do when I got out of college I said, “I want to do hair.”
What did you do after graduating beauty school?
I had the most amazing beauty school teacher and she really challenged me to compete, excited me about education, and exposed me to some amazing artists while I was still in school, so when I got out, I had already won one competition and placed very high in another. I was 19 when I graduated beauty school and by 22 I was teaching in England, by age 23, I was in Germany, at 24 I created the liquid haircolor thickener for LOGICS, at 26 I was Wella’s National Technical Training Manager USA/Canada, at 28 I opened my first salon, at 29 I was named “One of the Best Colorists” by ALLURE, at 31 I was the founding Color Director for Nick Arrojo and Rodney Cutler at ARROJO CUTLER on 57th St. After that, things really took off, literally, traveling to Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, including teaching on a few Caribbean Islands too. Since 1998 I have been working with L’Oréal USA, first as a global artist for Redken and the last 3 1/2 years as Artist Director with Matrix.
What is your favorite thing about the work you do?
My favorite thing is that every day is different and every day I meet cool new people. The best thing about coloring hair is that I know every time I do someone’s haircolor, there is something I can do better, no matter how many times or how long I have been coloring their hair, and I love that. Not only do I get to make people look good and feel great, today I also get to share those ideas with other salon professionals so they can do the same, too. That is the best way I can honor the people who shared their ideas, techniques, and knowledge with me.
What coloring trends are you seeing right now?
Right now the trends are more solid beautiful bases with random pops of color. I love this because it is a very unnatural progression of the Ombré look, but instead of an Ombré with its natural edge, the new POC (as in pops of color) adds unnatural tones like blue, pink, bright orange, purples, and more at random, creating fun accents that can be seen on anyone from models to pop stars to junior high students. It’s fun and far cooler than a feather in the hair.
How do you work with clients who want to transition from dark brown hair to blonde?
The cool thing today is that blonde no longer needs to be all over yellow. Today, Beyoncé is considered a blonde, too. We used to consider only very little hair blonde and forgot that it ranges from dark blonde to light blonde. Right now with J Lo, Beyoncé, Shakira, and more, you don’t have to look like my Sicilian mom did in the 1970s with frosted highlights in dark brown hair. Instead you can be sexy and celebrate the fact that there is a whole world of blondes out there.
What comes next for you?
So many cool things are happening right now; I am traveling a ton, sharing ideas on how to create beautiful, sexy, believable haircolor with an edge, and helping salons to take back the social network. It’s funny how salons/barber shops were the original social networks of any community. If you wanted to know who was having an affair, you asked your stylist. If you wanted to know who your child should have as a teacher next year, you asked your stylist. What restaurant, movie, club to go to… you asked your stylist. But unfortunately, when MySpace and Facebook came along, because it needed a computer, required typing, and had messages left for you, hairdressers thought typing + computer + messages = work, exactly why most us became hairdressers. So we backed away from what we always wanted: a tool/platform to stay connected and let our community be connected to us. Now, with my maxed out Facebook fan book friend profile and a YouTube Channel that gets more than 16,000 hits every 30 days, I am sharing with other salon professionals how they can take back their communities’ social network with Matrix.