As artists I think we gather inspiration from so many places often times we aren’t even aware. I have helped create images before and looked back and realized where I got the inspiration from. A while back I did a photo where we had my hand all made up like a corpse hand reaching up around a beautiful models face. The photo was really popular and several people had used it for inspiration. Some copied more than were inspired but regardless they liked what we had done and it made them want to create something. That being said on that same image we created that inspired them we were also inspired by outside sources. The hand was inspired by the cover art for the movie House. There is no way around it. There are no original ideas, only new ways to interpret them and piece them together.
My good friend and model Katya Estes came to me a little while back with some inspiration photos. They were really cool but at first I didn’t know what to do with them. I usually like to find my own inspiration images because I generally already know what I am going to do with them to make them my own. For one I didn’t know how similar she wanted it or how different I could stray. I am never one to shy away from a challenge though. The trick was to change it enough to be mine but still hold on to a bit of the inspiration.
Katya, luckily like me does not like glitter so that part of the inspiration was thrown out immediately. The main thing I was drawn to was the shapes and harsh lines. One of my favorite shirts when I was a kid had orange and turquoise panels sewn on in sharp shapes which I wanted to draw on for ideas. That being said I didn't go back and look at photos of the shirt because I didn't want it to influence me too heavily. Luckily I was able to talk the team into that color scheme. From there I wanted it to have a kind of Miami art deco kind of feel. My ideas were focused mainly on the face. Our amazing photographer Erik Branch suggested we do something on the neck as well because one of inspiration images had a painted neck.
I took that opportunity to really put my stamp on the look. I taped off the shapes to give it the hard lines that I wanted which was something Katya is use to working with me as much as she does. I felt like that was what really made the makeup and the images unique. It also really brought in the influence of the panels on the shirt I had as a child as I remembered. Then I added the finishing touches like the darker orange lip, the light blue in the water line of her non-blocked out eye and the flourish of orange on the eyebrow and I was done.
Caleb Yeske was our hairstylist. While you can’t really see his hair work he was a huge part on the team. He was able to get all of Katya’s hair wrapped very tightly so that he could put the bandage on without any lumps. When it came time to add the silver string we left him in charge of that as well. I noticed something as I was helping him cut the string. If you weren’t careful the string would unravel and it couldn't be used. I took that opportunity to take some on the string and deconstruct it and use the strands as a kind of burst from the somewhat naked eye.
I could not be happier with how these came out. I am very proud of the whole team and what we were able to do with the inspiration given. There are no new ideas under the sun so don’t be ashamed of your inspiration. It sometimes also helps to pull ideas from multiple places. Own it and add to it, make it yours. It reminds me of when I worked retail. I know it’s not the same thing but teenagers would come in all the time to our store. They would find something they liked but wouldn’t want to get it because someone else they knew had it. My advice was always, “It’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.” In short, make it your own.