What inspired you to create this project and what about it was the most interesting for you?
Many people know I started as a fine artist long before I touched a makeup tool. I’ve worked in oil, acrylics, printmaking, watercolor and installation. I sculpt and built my
own fx and props. The art world and the makeup world are very different. When trying to bridge the two I’ve hit many challenges because the markets rarely overlap. I seldom get a chance to just sit and create art for the sake of creating. When I went to The Powder Group’s Creative Exploration Workshops, both in 2014 and 2016, I had this experience of weightlessness in being surrounded in materials and mediums with no pressure but just to play. Doing it twice, in Provincetown no less, I wanted to recreate that experience in a story that had both worlds collide.
There are so many mediums in art, how did you determine which you would use for this project?
Part of what draws me to look at and create art is the ability to convey combinations of texture and color I find interesting and raw. Each medium I chose to portray on the face I wanted to juxtapose the skin texture, but also be true to the payoff the art mediums naturally provide. An homage if you will to the technique. Which is why I didn’t want to mimic the medium using makeup but get as close to using the authentic medium/process as I could. I actually carved a linoleum printing block, sculpted with clay and used real collage and watercolor. Each one offers an imperfect result.
A grit or rawness. Each one has its own story.
What is your design process like for something like this?
After I chose the mediums and gave myself an idea of a color pallette, I let the rest be very organic. Just like in the classes at the conference in Ptown, we did not have too
much time to overthink or design something but just be surrendered to the material you were given and create on the spot. I love that process because you can turn off the
linear part of the brain and be in a place of discovery. I had a childlike joy in creating while doing each makeup as I was not 100% sure where it would go. I stepped back and often said “Wow, this looks amazing.” And if it wasn’t working I wiped it off and tried again.
How much does the look of the model play into your design in a project like this?
I knew the range and personality of all of the models whom I asked to be a part of this project, so that was probably part of my decision making from the start. Of course their skin tone and hair type played into which medium each would wear. The medium became a character and they each played a role. Sarah was Watercolor. Zachary was Contour Drawing. Melanie was Collage and Alice was Clay etc. I imagine it can be very difficult sometimes to produce such creative artistry. Sometimes it works — sometimes it doesn’t.
How do you know when it works?
I often have an idea in my head and sometimes execute exactly what I thought was going to happen. But a lot of my art process is seeing what transpires in the making of the work. Just like when I was playing with art mediums at the Creative Exploration Workshops, but here I played with the mediums on the face. I had an intention and did some tests but really surrendered to the art medium itself to see what it would produce. Being the photographer as well gives you another level of responsibility. To know in the back of your head how you will light it and the emotional feeling you are going for in the final shot allows me to have a full vision with two parts. I have faith it works when I execute the makeup but I know when it works when I take the first shot. Do you think there is something that makeup artists
overlook or miss when it ends up not working?
I observe a lot of makeup artists, especially ones that I teach, that they have a “good enough” stopping point. What I mean is they may have a vision in their head and in the
execution process if they come remotely close they’re willing to stop rather than go too far and mess it up. There needs to be a point where you look at your work and ask yourself how can I take this to the next level? If you stop at mediocre you will never be extraordinary. So how are you pushing yourself to go beyond what people expect? If you mess up, don’t be afraid to start over, or fix, or use the mistake and make it work
in another direction you don’t expect. There are too many carbon copies out there that are safe. Take a risk and put your whole self into your work.
How does art inspire you in your work that is not so parallel or reflective of the actual medium itself?
As I’ve mentioned, I think art is a special communication tool. It expresses things visually and experimentally in ways sometimes regular language cannot. I’m inspired by artists who reach me in a place I thought nobody knew about me. There is a level of vulnerability and connection that can occur without bullshit jibber jabber, that hits deeper on a soul level. Sometimes this art can make me feel uncomfortable, angry, tender, and access a human part of me that often gets numbed by society. Art that make me feel
alive in any capacity pushes me to make more work that does this for others. It’s both a healing medicine for yourself and for others and as an artist I feel both blessed and responsible to keep making and sharing it.
Words Michael DeVellis
Makeup and Photography Dani Fonseca
Hair Georgie Calvert
Models Alice Reis, Melanie Kazmercyk
Models Sarah Burns, Zachary Koval