Patrick's incredible beard
We are pleased to welcome Patrick to the all about beards featured beards section! He brings a fierce, bright red beard that he has worn continuously ever since the beard follicles activated on his face back in the sixth grade! He has trimmed it since then. But that is some mighty impressive dedication to the beard! Despite his red-beard-growing prowess, Patrick remains pretty humble about his incredible beard.
Patrick grew up in a small house on a big piece of land in the mountains of California. While growing up, he spent most of his time outdoors. That has not changed much by today, except that he has switched locations from the Golden State to the Empire State. In upstate New York, Patrick now gets to experience a climate with four distinct seasons along with a change of scenery. He went to school for art, focusing on film-based photography. The rise of digital photography, however, caused him to lose a lot of interest in photography as a profession. Patrick still enjoys taking pictures as a hobby. More recently, Patrick has gotten into video. His video projects include both documentary and fiction.
Patrick says that his father was something of a carpenter. Following in that tradition, Patrick builds furniture in his spare time. His work history includes years of manual labor, mostly in construction and demolition. Nowadays Patrick finds himself in a desk job doing graphic design, something else that he enjoys. Despite working inside, Patrick still spends a lot of time in the great outdoors. He says that upstate New York is a nice place to be and that there are plenty of mountains to climb.
Scroll down to read Patrick's story. Then, be sure to visit Patrick's photo album.
The photos on this page and in Patrick's photo album are courtesy of Patrick and are used with permission. All photos are subject to the site's conditions of use.
What do you think of beards?
I think beards are pretty great. Or maybe I should say, they can be great. There are some funky beards out there, but I think any beard is better than no beard at all, if you have the genetic disposition for it.
Why do you grow your beard now?
I grow a beard because mainly, Iím passive. I donít like to shave every day. Itís expensive to buy razor blades and I just plain like the feel of it. Iím a low-maintenance kind of guy, and with a beard mostly you can just let it do its own thing and youíll be fine. It keeps me warm in the winter and has a great feel when the wind blows through. I have the terrible luck of a receding hairline (which I think most times goes with the ability to grow facial hair easily). So itís nice to express my hairy self in this way that Iím losing in others.
Before the beard
Do you know of anyone in your family having a beard before you?
I just found a picture of my dad from the late '60s sitting on a log in a forest with a big full beard. And I had heard he had one then, but I have no memory of ever seeing it 'til now. I had really no influence for growing a beard. So I grew a beard just because it was happening to me at an early age and I figured I wouldnít fight it.
Do you remember from childhood ever wanting to have a beard when you grew up?
Well I started growing one by sixth grade. So I guess it just sort of happened and I went with it.
Growing the beard
What led you to your decision to grow your first beard?
Genetics decided for me.
When did you grow your first beard?
I started getting hair on my face by the end of sixth grade, sort of a ratty goatee. And by my first year in high school it was getting pretty serious.
How did your first beard turn out?
I canít really say when my first beard actually happened because it just sort of evolved over time. There was never a moment when I said to myself that now I would have a beard -- it grew and I tried to shape it into something presentable. I mean Iíve had this thing on my face for ten years. So itís like asking, ďHow did that nose happen?Ē Itís as much a part of my face as anything else.
What happened to your first beard?
I guess I still have my first beard, since I havenít shaved my face in over ten years now. I have just trimmed here and there.
What made you into a dedicated, permanent beard grower?
My hairy genes and a number of years.
What do you think of the full beard versus other beard styles?
I donít really have a preference for beards on other people, but personally I enjoy the full beard on myself. Itís easiest to maintain for me. And I donít have to think too much about it, just comb it and trim it when it gets out of hand.
Have you tried any other style other than the full beard?
I had a goatee first, just because thatís all I could grow. Sideburns came after that. Then everything connected together and now I have what you see, a decade later.
You've gone pretty big with your full beard. How did that happen? Did it take some courage and determination?
I have a pretty office-oriented job. So at first I was a bit worried that it might not be all right to have something so wild in the suit-and-tie atmosphere. But I think people have at least gotten used to it. The thing about beards is that they happen slowly. This one took about eight months or so from a shorter style. And if youíre around a lot of people, they might not notice that gradual change until itís there. Also, I figure, being in politics, plenty of presidents had big beards, so I can always fall back on just being patriotic.
Why bother with a big full beard?
Iíve had it so long, it isnít really a bother at all. Eating some stuff is sort of messy. But otherwise, itís always been a positive experience. Iíve never had that itchy stage people talk about getting through. But I guess thatís probably because itís always been there.
You are somewhat known for being the bearded man. How do you feel about that?
I guess what youíre referring to is when I got written up in the town paper as ďthe nameless bearded manĒ. I was at the closing of some famous local diner and they quoted me as saying some things, but didnít get my name. So they went with that moniker. Iím not one for getting my name out there or being famous, so ďnameless bearded manĒ works fine for me.
Your beard won a regional contest that you didn't even enter. That's some beard power. How did that happen?
It was a pretty informal contest, attached to a local rock show. There were some impressive beards there and I did actually enter, but in a category I knew I wouldnít win to avoid getting up on stage. So I didnít win in that category but people liked my beard so much that I was moved to the natural category (without knowing) and won that. I got up on stage with all the other category winners and was chosen as the best overall beard -- quite a surprise.
Your beard must invite plenty of reactions from others. What is that like and how do you respond?
I get everything from ďYou look like a d@mn hippyĒ to ďYour beard is better than puppiesĒ. Most of the time I just get a lot of people shouting out to me with ďnice beardĒ or ďI respect that beard, broĒ -- stuff like that. I usually just say thanks, I donít know what else to say.
Did you ever keep a short full beard?
Up until late last year I had a pretty standard short full beard. But after the contest and the cold winter, I decided to see how far it could go.
Which is better, the short or long full beard?
With a short beard you donít get that great feeling with the wind. But otherwise, a short full beard is much easier to maintain. The longer it gets, the more itís likely to shoot off in crazy directions if you donít keep after it.
What are your plans for your beard?
Iím not sure, honestly. I think Iíll always have a beard. But as of now, Iím remembering a time when it was easier to take care of, and that was a much shorter beard, so I might go back to that soon.
With a beard as long as yours, do you leave the neck line natural?
Right now itís all gotten pretty out of hand. Been busy at work and havenít had much time to even look in a mirror, much less trim. I keep the area between neck and chest natural. But I trim the area between my jaw and the back of the neck.
Why not go natural with the cheek line? Or at least raise it up some more?
Now it is actually pretty close to natural. It grows in sort of patchy above that line. So I just keep it trimmed there, mainly for work. If it werenít for the office, it would be a very different beard Iím sure.
Do you shape and trim the beard yourself?
I do. I havenít really even gotten a haircut professionally in many years. Like razor blades, to me itís a waste of money. And a buzzed head (which I usually have) is pretty easy to do at home.
Do you take a lot of pride in your beard?
I donít take pride in it really. But I do take a great deal of comfort. It just feels good. And itís always been there. So itís hard to imagine any other way.
Has your beard had any effect on your self-confidence or how you see yourself?
I have a pretty small jaw. So I guess it helps balance out my face a bit. But otherwise, itís hard to think about myself without it.
You enjoy a lot of outdoor activities. Could this have any connection to your wanting to grow a beard?
I try to get out in the woods whenever I can, whether to hike or explore. I guess the beard has that image attached of the lumberjack or mountain man. And I do get called those things. But I donít consciously make that connection. Iíve heard people say that your environment shapes you as a person, so I guess being in the woods half my life has rubbed off a little.
What do you like best about your beard?
That itís something sort of wild (in the nature sense), something that, to a certain extent, remains out of my control. In the world today you donít get many chances to carry something like that around wherever you go. So I feel lucky to have the ability to experience it.
Do you have any complaints about your beard?
Just that some days it really gets out of hand and I canít tame it, but not often enough to bother me much. Some foods, too, are a bit of a hassle. But these are small complaints.
What have you learned from your beard-growing experiences?
That shampoo is important and a boar brush is about the best thing a beard can be combed with.
To your knowledge, has your beard inspired anyone else to grow a beard?
Not that I know of, no.
Would you recommend to other those guys who are capable that they grow full beards?
How do you feel about being featured on beards.org?
I feel kind of funny. Iím not used to being the focus of attention in this sort of way. But Iíve always appreciated that this web site exists. So Iím happy to now contribute to it in a bigger way.
What do you think about beards.org?
There arenít enough dedicated beard resources out there on the web. So Iím glad this is here to fill that space.