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With Hard Work, Dedication and a Dash of Luck, Brian Shimansky '08 Goes Global as Male Model

By Kenneth Stratton '19 SATURDAY, MAY 11, 2019 - 12:00 PM WNE100

Attending a John Mayer concert while undergoing treatment for Lyme disease doesn’t sound like a typical pathway to success, but it was for Brian Shimansky ’08, who left that concert on his way to becoming one of the world’s top male models.

Shimansky, a native of New Jersey, discovered Western New England University on his quest to play college baseball. Initially enrolling in sport management, he transitioned to finance and later earned a minor in economics. Wasting no time to utilize the Career Development Center on campus, Shimansky connected with alumnus Steven Tremblay ’87/G’91.

Tremblay helped Shimansky build out his resume and shared it with his colleagues. As graduation approached, Shimansky had a finance opportunity lined up in Manhattan, NY. But he declined that offer after being discovered by model scout Arri Taylor at the Mayer concert.

“‘You have a great look,’” Shimansky recalled Taylor telling him. “‘You got somethin’ man,’” Shimansky continued with his recollection. “Yeah, I’ve got Lyme disease,” he explained, laughing as he recalled the encounter, because it was dehydration from the antibiotics that made his arm veins “pop,” catching Taylor’s eye. After a favorable response from top agent Jason Kanner in New York, and conversations with Tremblay and other mentors, Shimansky decided to pursue a modeling career.

For the next four years, Shimansky traveled the world, building out his portfolio and network of agents. One of his first editorial photoshoots was for Hercules Universal magazine in October 2008. His agent told him, before the shoot began, “this story will define your career.” And it did.

“The major breakthrough – that really gave way to where I am today – was the Versace contract,” Shimansky explained, and the photos from those earlier shoots, four years prior, were circulated when Versace selected him to represent their new fragrance. Shimansky had three days’ notice when that call to shoot came in and fortunately, he was prepared.

Those ads circulated the world and the fragrance performed well, establishing him as a leader in the industry. Today, models.com considers him one of the “sexiest men” in male modeling. But early on, learning to step out of his comfort zone was difficult.

“I came across as a shy baseball player from suburban New Jersey with little knowledge of the fashion world,” Shimansky said. Not only that, he had to learn how to deliver the presence and energy on set that clients and photographers demanded. “My initial concept of modeling was, show up, put the clothes on and get your picture taken,” Shimansky said. But, he reiterated, photographers and editors are looking for subjects with the character and drive to tell a story. With that in mind, he studied acting techniques, took improvisational theater classes, and learned ballroom dancing as a way to bring more life to his work.

As expected, Shimansky has to stay fit, and for that he leans on his collegiate baseball training habits forged under head coach Matt LaBranche and strength coach Bob Arnett. His workouts focus on high intensity interval training, lots of core and bodyweight exercises, swimming, and biking. For meals, he strives to cook at home often and consume plenty of organic vegetables, rice, wild fish, and lean meats.

The nature of Shimansky’s career has left him with periods of free time between shoots. To stay busy, Shimansky volunteered as an assistant high school baseball coach in his hometown from 2009-2015 and took up woodworking.

“I often found myself inspired by the furniture and interior design I saw in my travels,” Shimansky said. He went on to say that designing and building furniture became a flexible and stimulating creative outlet. With a background in business, and thanks to his high profile modeling work, Shimansky has taken his woodworking to the next level by joining a co-op in Austin, TX and officially showing his pieces for the first time at the 2018 West Austin Studio Tour. His recent builds include a regulation ping pong table, interlocking queen size bed frame, and custom electric guitars for a local musician.

Shimansky believes the future is bright and plans to build a family with his wife in Austin. From his vibrant modeling career to his love of woodworking and the fresh opportunity of life in a new city, he remains confident to discover and take advantage of great opportunities. He credits his days at Western New England with instilling his work ethic toward physical fitness, strengthening his communication skills, and providing the business education to make smart financial decisions with his earnings.

Recounting his career as simply bumping into a scout at a concert and rising to the top makes it sound like Shimansky’s success was all luck. Although luck was certainly present, substantial dedication and hard work were required for Shimansky to be prepared and deliver when the calls came that made him a global leader in his industry.