In fall 2011, a surprised John Cougar Mellencamp called his brother in West Chester to let him know what he had just seen in Los Angeles.
“John told me that he just saw my son’s picture on a billboard on Hollywood Boulevard,” said Joe Mellencamp. “He said that he couldn’t believe it.’’
The billboard, which was also on display in New York City, Paris and China, was part of a Calvin Klein campaign that helped launch Ian Mellencamp’s modeling career. Around that same time, Ian was asked to do some work for Fashion Week in New York.
“When Ian told me he was going to go to New York (in 2011) and take a short leave of absence from work here, I felt that he would be back in four or five weeks,” said Joe Mellencamp, who as president of Beacon Electric in Cincinnati was his son’s boss.
“He left and he hasn’t been back yet.”
Ian, who graduated from Lakota West High School in 2001, has been living in New York for two years. More recently, he has been featured in ad campaigns for Diesel and Cole Haan, as well as appearing in a Maybelline Color Whisper commercial. According to models.com, he is ranked No. 41 among other male models in the world.“He has become, what you call, ‘a New York it boy,’” said Chester Ricks, agent and agency director at New View Management Group in Evendale. “He is the hot, rising new model with the new look – the long hair and the ‘boy who doesn’t have a care look.’”
A big-time modeling career, however, wasn’t on Ian’s radar when he began doing it in Cincinnati for extra cash.
“I was pretty oblivious to the fashion world,” Ian said. “My agent really wanted to try Fashion Week out. That entails running around the city for the week meeting all kinds of clients and companies. I basically didn’t know who 90 percent of them were.”
Eventually, Ian learned who the designers and photographers were and now is in demand in the Big Apple.
While he enjoys his new profession, Ian’s passion continues to be music.
When he was younger, his father brought him on stage when his band, Pure Jam, performed. He also attended his famous uncle’s concerts.
“Music was always really accessible growing up,” Ian said. “My uncle knows that I play music and he has always been very supportive. He has also offered me advice and input, but mainly it is on my shoulders to do what I want.”
Ian credits John Cougar Mellencamp with introducing him to folk music and artists like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.
Ian is trying to start a solo music career that blends folk with electronic rock. In addition, he has taken up acting.
“Honestly, I thought he was an outstanding left-handed pitcher,’’ his father said. “I think he would be a better pitcher than model, but he decided that he wanted to be a model. I think his mother had a lot of influence on him because he obviously got her looks – not mine.”