Van Gogh

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“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.” -Vincent Van Gogh

I met Rebecca Rhodes years ago. We had met on a Facebook makeup group and became fast friends. Back then I hadn’t really done that many body paints and certainly would not have called myself a body painter but it was something that interested me. At the time I was doing a lot more fashion editorial and avant-garde looks. I don’t know that I would call myself a body painter now even, but I love challenging myself. Speaking of challenging myself around the time Rebecca and I met I was gearing up for a body paint competition so it became one of our topics of conversation. We talked about doing body paint together someday with her as my model. That led into, what would I paint. I stupidly asked what she would want to have painted on her body and without much hesitation she said “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh.

Van Gogh has been an inspiration to me since I was little. In the art room of my grade school we had a replica of starry night painted on one of our walls that was done by past students and art teachers. I used to stare at that mural all day.

Years later I got to see starry night in person and I remember sitting in the MOMA staring at the painting in complete awe. It was beautiful and precise yet so haphazardly painted it was amazing. So when I met Matt a few years ago and he told me that he was interested in body paint I told him I wanted to be painted like Van Gogh's masterpiece.” –Rebecca Rhodes

When I am asked who my favorite artist is I can never name just one. Even though I have so many I draw inspiration from I  always say three names; Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Vincent Van Gogh. They are all very different artists but I like them all. When Rebecca mentioned “Starry Night”, on the outside I confidently said yes but inside it scared the hell out of me. “Starry Night” is one of the most famous and recognizable paintings in history, which is a master-work by one the greatest artists to ever hold a paintbrush. The idea of having to paint that on a curved body was scary enough. Then add in a heavy time constraint seeing as how you can’t have a model stand for days on end sounded daunting. I remained confident outwardly and put the idea on the back burner.

Since then Rebecca and I have become very close and have a great working relationship. We have also done quite a few body paints together since we talked about the Starry Night years ago. Not to say Starry Night hadn’t been brought up over the years, mainly by her but we never planned it out. This time of year I am working at the Devil’s Attic ( http://thedevilsattic.com ) as the Makeup SFX manager where Rebecca is also doing makeup with our two other amazing artists Mary Proctor and Phoebe Conrad. I love our team and we have become a family. I enjoy doing the makeups at the haunt and we all try to put as much of a personal signature on the characters as we can. Throughout the week I miss my creative outlet so I told Rebecca I wanted to do body paint but I didn’t really have any ideas. “Well, we never did do Starry Night” She said.

It took three years of talking about it but we finally decided that it was time.” –Rebecca Rhodes

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” -Vincent Van Gogh

I knew Starry Night would come back around and I also knew I couldn’t back away from it any longer so I agreed. Rebecca is a great makeup artist herself so I suggested we collaborate. I would do the body paint and she would do the face makeup. Our mutual friend Danny Alexander also agreed to photograph the body paint. I knew he was the guy to capture this look. I have recently been doing a lot of super hero body paints which consist of very hard and graphic lines. With “super suits” there is not a lot of room for artistic interpretation. Everything has to be very tight and precise and lots of airbrushing details. With Van Gogh as scary as it was I thought it may be nice to do something a bit more loosely and free form. Me being the idiot I am I spouted off, “Why not do “Starry Night” on the front, “Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette” on the back, and the “Sunflowers” on the butt and back of legs?”

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” -Vincent Van Gogh

As we got closer to the day I was seriously reconsidering my idea of doing three paintings on one body in one day. She said she could and was willing to stand that long but I did not want to do that to her. The Skull is one of my favorite Van Gogh Pieces but I was willing to sacrifice it for the sake of time. I merely suggested the sunflowers because I thought they would fit well. Starting painting at noon knowing our amazing photographer and friend Danny ( https://dannyalexanderphoto.com/ ) would be there at 4pm. That gave us 4 hours not only for the body paint, but for the beauty makeup as well. I really wanted to do the Smoking Skull but only if I had enough time.

Of Course Van Gogh never used an airbrush so I knew I wasn’t going to be using that. Not only that, but his paintings are known for their very heavy and chunky brush strokes. I wouldn’t be able to get my paint as thick as his because body paint has a tendency to crack if you get it too heavy. Using nothing but airbrush at the haunt (which I love) I knew using nothing but brush strokes would be a nice break.

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“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” -Vincent Van Gogh

I started by blocking out a light blue for the sky. It looks to me like he started with a darker color and layered on top. I had a feeling starting with black or something darker may cause the paint to mix and get muddy. I knew I would later be using different darker blues and black to build up depth so I knew the lighter base would give the look I wanted. I was going to go color by color. Starting with the lighter colors for the most part and working my way up to the darks. “Starry Night” is a horizontal painting, so I knew going in that I was going to have to change some things working on a slender vertical body. I decided to omit the houses and buildings in the village. When I think of “Starry Night” I can’t recall ever thinking about the buildings. I knew I couldn’t hit every detail so I decided to put my efforts into areas that would make it as recognizable as possible. Color by color it started to come together, and a lot faster than I expected.

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“If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” -Vincent Van Gogh

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I was very happy with the way that Starry Night turned out and given the time I thought I would give “Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette” a shot on Rebecca’s back. In Rebecca’s words, “We decided that we would also add a second painting done by Van Gogh in order to make the most of the experience. The Skull Smoking a Burning Cigarette was a painting I hadn’t been super familiar with but I saw it and knew it was perfect.” I didn’t have the correct color pallet but I thought I could get pretty close and if it looked terrible we just wouldn’t photograph it. Same as before I started with the lighter colors and worked my way up. I blobbed the basic shape of the Skull on first. I wanted it to take up most of her back. In doing so I didn’t leave myself a lot of room to do the sternum and ribs. Normally the last color I paint is black because it will cover anything but putting in the pops of white highlight at the end was the way to go with this piece. I tried to add in some of the paintings imperfections too because they are some of the things I love about it: Imperfections like the stray brush stroke on the back of the skull, and how the paint is a bit fuzzy on the top of the head. I spatter painted on some yellow to give the idea of some of the bare canvas showing through.

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Danny as always was able to photograph the pieces and Rebecca’s makeup and makes us look good. My “Starry Night” is not perfect but I think when people see it they will know exactly what it is. Rebecca’s beauty makeup matches the painting and over all feel of the body paint perfectly while still staying within her own style.

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My version of “Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette” is far From perfect. Luckily it’s not one of Van Gogh’s more famous pieces or the mistake would be more apparent. Looking at it now I wish I would have taken the sternum and rib cage down on her butt. One of my favorite things about the Van Gogh version though as I stated before are the imperfections and how it looks a little unfinished. It was one of his earlier pieces and just has an awesome raw feel to it. I hope I was able to capture that vibe.  Van Gogh’s Original painting aside I really like my skull.

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While standing for hours isn’t my favorite thing it was so worth it. Matt did a beautiful job and I was so happy with it.
 

Danny also did a fantastic job when it came time to bringing these photos to life. The way he helped me to pose brought out the shape of the paint beautifully and I’m so happy he was willing to shoot this. 

All in all I’m so happy I finally got to do this and I’m really happy I got to be a part of the creative process.” –Rebecca Rhodes

I am so happy we were finally able to do this painting. It’s always good working with Rebecca and the fact that we were able to collaborate made it that much better. I cannot thank Danny enough for always coming through and making me look good. I love the way this turned out and couldn’t be more proud. Until Next time!

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“One must work and dare if one really wants to live.” -Vincent Van Gogh

Spider-Woman

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This past February my buddy Katya Estes and I went to an art and fashion show. She is a model but neither of us were there to work the show. We were there just to have a good time and a good time we had. The drinks were overpriced but our tickets were free so we felt that offset our cost enough to get a decent buzz. The trouble is that Katya is an amazing model and when one of the designers found out she was there they wanted her to walk in the show. Mind you this was after both of us already had several drinks. The other problem was all of the makeup artists were all done doing makeup and wanted to enjoy the show themselves. A makeup artist by the name of Kayla Maxey let me work out of her kit. At the time the makeup looked good to me but I was more than a few drinks in. Looking at the photos the next day I was a bit embarrassed. Luckily Katya can make anything look good.

There are very few people I would let work out of my makeup kit, especially unsupervised so I was very appreciative to Kayla and we have kept in touch. It turns out Kayla is also a model. After seeing some of her work I asked if she would ever be interested in body paint. It’s always a strange question to ask someone but she seemed to be excited about the idea. All I had to do then was figure out what to paint. I really enjoyed doing my Spider-Gwen, and Venom body paints so sticking to the Spider-Verse seemed the way to go.

Spider-Gwen:  Photo: Alexandra Lee Brumley  Model: Melanie Smith  Wig: Matthew Tyldsley    Venom:  Photo: Danny Alexander  Model: Rebecca Rhodes

Spider-Gwen:

Photo: Alexandra Lee Brumley

Model: Melanie Smith

Wig: Matthew Tyldsley

Venom:

Photo: Danny Alexander

Model: Rebecca Rhodes

I knew I didn’t want to do the traditional Spider-Man suit or and of it's derivatives. Spider-Girl's suit is way to similar to the red and blue webbed Peter Parker Spidey suit. Turns out there are a lot of characters in the Spider-Verse but the one I kept going back to was Spider-Woman. Her suit is bold in color with its Red and Yellow/Gold color scheme. The over all design however was a bit simplistic which is why I couldn’t settle on it. The comic book design just looked too easy and flat which felt pointless to do as a body paint. It looks good in the comics but as a body paint it did nothing for me.

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Then it struck me how Miguel Mercado ( @merkymerx on Instagram ) did the Spider-Gwen suit design I ended up painting. He is amazing and I love his work and how he reimagines the characters. Not to mention he’s just an amazing artist. If Norman Rockwell painted comic book characters they would look like Miguel Mercado’s work. After looking through his work I didn’t see a Spider-Woman suit. I sent him a message asking if maybe I over looked it. He sent me a design that I hadn’t seen anywhere else and it was badass! I showed it to Kayla and she agreed.

Miguel Mercado’s Design

Miguel Mercado’s Design

In the original design she wears a mask that only covers her eyes and forehead. The mask has the traditional Spider suit eyes with the addition of a triangle in between them. Miguel’s design had her in Aviator Goggles which made sense seeing as how she’s not a webslinger. She actually has flaps under her arms she uses to glide or fly. I looked all over for goggles to see if there was a way I could modify them. Everything I was finding looked a bit too steam punk. I decided I would paint the triangle on her forehead and do a beauty makeup on her eyes that brought in colors of the suit.

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As I said before Spider-Woman has underarm flaps. I tried to think of ways to do it but they would only look good with her arms outstretched otherwise I couldn’t think of a way to not make it not look sloppy in other poses. Instead of painting the yellow portions of the suit yellow I decided to go with a very yellow gold to stay away from the green undertones of most gold but also not use rose gold which wouldn’t contrast as strongly against the red. I was then able to high light and low light the gold to make it look raised a bit.

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There were a lot of linear panels on the suit which were fun to work out in different shades of red. I then went in and added some high lights to give the high points a bit of a shine. No super suit would be complete without some texturing either. Using my favorite hexagon stencil I popped in some mesh texturing. When I finished the body paint I gave Kayla’s body a light dusting of gold shimmer powder to bring it all together. Miguel’s design even had some pink trim to really make things pop. Given the symmetry super suits have they are always fun to paint and look great if you can get it right. I was really happy with how this one turned out. Danny Alexander did an amazing job as usual capturing the body paint just right. As I said before, Spider-Woman doesn’t shoot webs but she actually shoots these green blasts from her hands which Danny actually added in post. Danny always makes me look good and I couldn’t be happier with how they came out!

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Disney Villains: TDF Challenge

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Once you are on the Team Demon Fabulous makeup team I will always consider you as a member of the team as long as you leave on good terms. My second year as the makeup manager at The Devil’s Attic ( http://thedevilsattic.com ) was when I felt I started to slip into my groove. It was also when I came up with the name Team Demon Fabulous (TDF) for our makeup team. That same year Lauren Bradley joined our team. She came in as more of a beauty makeup artist but I had seen her do some more avant-garde looks which I loved and I knew she would do well. She far exceeded my expectations. She was only with us the 2016 season and we were sad to see her go.

Lauren came to the team with a makeup challenge. The challenge she laid out was that we would all do Disney Villains. There were really no rules other than that. You could do it straight up like the character or let the character inspire you in any way you wanted. This was a challenge issued to all TDF members, old and current. Unfortunately due to busy summer schedules two of our current member could not participate. That said everyone else was in. Portia Greene even came back for this challenge. Portia was hired early spring of 2017. She did makeup for a few events with us and even when we opened up for one night in June for the Mid-West Haunters bus tour. Unfortunately for us she got another full time job and had to leave before our season started. That all said she is still TDF.

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With all the players in place people started to pick their characters so we didn’t have any overlap. Some were picking more obscure characters I had to look up. That said, no one had picked Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. I have always wanted to do a Maleficent makeup so this was the perfect opportunity.  She kind of embodies the aesthetic I like. I love things that are dark and beautiful and a bit macabre which fit Mal’s look perfectly. Team Demon Fabulous consists of fairly attractive women and then there is me. I figured they were going to be doing makeup on themselves but I knew I could not pull off a Maleficent look, nor did I want to. The first thing I needed was a model. Alex Hepfinger is a model I have used in the past and I knew her face had all the features I needed. Plus she is great to work with and is usually game for my strange ideas.  

The only camera I own is the one on my phone which is a good camera but not for this. Misha Kidwell was awesome enough to offer up his skill and studio to help this Maleficent come to life. Having a great model and photographer I decided it would be good to have an equally awesome hair stylist come in and help. I hadn’t worked with Caleb Yeske in a while but he agreed to come on and do hair. Now with a great team in place I really had to deliver on my end of the deal.

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First up we have Lauren’s look which is only fair since this is her challenge. I am so happy that Lauren wanted to include her haunt family in this challenge. When she first came to the team in 2016 I was worried she wouldn’t get into it. After a really bad injury earlier in the season I was afraid we were going to lose her. Lauren is a perfect example of not judging a book by its cover. She may not look like it but she is a tough badass. That season we had "big bad" male actors dropping like flies for far less injuries yet Lauren never missed a beat. I have never seen the Emperor’s New Groove so I had never heard of Yzma. She ended up doing an Yzma/Kris Jenner hybrid which I thought was hilarious. I had asked everyone to write something about their makeups for this blog and in true Lauren fashion this is what I got, “Hahaha you know I'm not one for sentiment or even offering an explanation for why I do the things I do. It's the element of mystery, confusion, and wtf. Pull the lever, sweetie.”

 

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Kelsey Eisenhut was one of the first members of Team Demon Fabulous and the only member of the team that was on my team for my first year as manager when we were just “The Monster Squad”. She is also one of my best friends. Kelsey unfortunately moved away to Indianapolis the summer of 2017. With the 2 hour commute we unfortunately lost her to distance. She also happened to pick one of the villains I was not familiar with. Madam Medusa from the Rescuers was perfect for her. I will let Kelsey explain her process in her own words, “When we were issued the Disney Challenge I was excited and nervous all at the same time. On the one hand I love Disney and especially Disney Villains as is evidenced by my full leg sleeve. On the other hand I knew I would be performing this makeup on myself and that made me nervous. All issues of vanity that any person deals with aside, a fact I never talk about as a makeup artist is my terrible peripheral vision. I have a very hard time doing a full face on myself due to my inability to fully see out of the corners of my eyes. I have lived with this face for 29 years now and so I do know my face fairly well but it is still an issue for me. With this fact in mind I try to focus on looks focused more in the middle of my face and less on the sides. I have always loved Madame Medusa from The Rescuers and because I am into the obscure thought it was the perfect choice. Knowing my subject and the issues at hand I chose to do a "young" version of Madame Medusa. This would keep me from having to change the shape of my face with excessive contouring which is one of the things I find hard to see with my limited peripheral vision. I knew by going this route I could focus on her iconic makeup, hair, and jewelry keeping the character recognizable while also working around my downfalls.”

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I have always liked the way Portia Greene’s mind works when it comes to her creative makeups. I sought her out for our makeup team nearly a half year in advance before the season even started when I found out Lauren was leaving us. She has a way of adding beauty and horror together which is the aesthetic I like in our haunt makeups. When she picked the Queen of Hearts from Alice In Wonderland I was very curious to see what direction she would go given that she looks nothing like the character. Here Portia explains the inspiration she took, “I took a lot of liberties with my look. I wanted to create a queen turned war general who gives “No Fucks” now.  I used Latin across her face as a war paint saying Cor Comedenti which means Heart Eater. Since Latin is considered a romantic language I thought it was fitting.”

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Last but not least we have Mary Proctor. I love Mary and I am so glad she is on my team. She wasn’t a makeup artist before asked her for the 2016 season. She had such outside the box way of thinking when it came to her weekend burlesque looks I wanted to see what she could do in the makeup room. She is now my second in command and is constantly surprising me with her talent. Mary picked Cruella Deville from 101 Dalmatians. If you know Mary you know this makes sense. If Mary’s not wearing black,  she’s wearing some kind of animal print. I will let Mary explain her look, “I based my look off of 6ix9ine, Post Malone and just sound cloud rappers in general. I believe that humor plays a very important role in art and I try to represent that what I do when I can. I love taking an idea and turning it on it's ear In a funny way.  I learned a lot through this challenge and had a lot of fun too. Can't wait for more so I can keep learning and having fun with my friends” 

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Back to my makeup look, I knew I had to keep the essence of Maleficent but still make her mine. I didn’t want to do a straight up interpretation. First thing to go was the red lips. I just felt while the red lips are iconic they brought to much life to her face. I wanted to focus more on her extreme cheekbones. I also didn’t want to use stock horns because I didn’t want it to look like the movie. I thought I could just make my own horns. Unfortunately that didn’t work out. I had never made papier-mâché horns or anything for that matter and I really underestimated the difficulty level. It took forever to get them the shape I wanted them but I thought they would work.  Leaving them out to dry the night before the makeup I thought I could just paint them in the morning. With the heavy rains that night I guess there was so much moisture in the air that they just fell like a soufflé. With a whole photo-shoot team in place I didn’t have time to try it again. I ran to a local costume shop. I was hoping they would have ram horns or something so it wouldn’t look so “officially licensed” but they were sold out. The next closest thing they had were gazelle horns but they were too small and had no presence. I ended up having to pick up actual Maleficent horns. To make the officially movie licensed horns more custom I tipped them in gold and dusted the rest of the horns with the same paint outside the studio before we shot. With the paint still drying the store bought horns were then placed on Alex's head backwards. This gave it a more evil aggressive look as oppose the horns being swept back. They may not have been our horns but we made them ours.

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Maleficent also has the glowing yellow eyes in the animated movie. Alex has beautiful blue eyes which not only wouldn’t match the character but would get lost in the purplish, bluish undertones of the grey paint I had mixed from EBA Performance Makeup ( http://www.europeanbodyart.com/ ). I decided to use these awesome amber toned contacts from Primal ( https://us.primalcontactlenses.com/ ) which were called the Piranha II – 920’s. After looking them up they actually do look like Piranha eyes which are strangely beautiful for such an ugly fish. I then cut a cheek stencil so I could give her that super over exaggerated contour. I may have gone a bit overboard with it but so are Maleficent’s cheek bones. While showering the morning of the makeup I got the idea to do this super glittery black skin from the neck down. I thought it would look beautiful and Maleficent is a fairy after all. 

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I really love not only how my makeup turned out but how everyone’s looks came together. I really wish during haunt season I could have 7 makeup stations and have us all just churning out hyper detailed haunt makeups. Don’t get me wrong, we do pretty amazing with a four person team and I am always happy with our haunt looks. A boy can dream though can’t he? We won’t have another challenge until probably after haunt season but I am looking forward to the next one and seeing what everyone creates. I am so lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful creative artists and getting to call them team mates.

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Refraction

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Before my good friend and photographer Chelsea Marrin moved back to Chicago this past February she asked me if I wanted to do one more photo-shoot. During Chelsea’s short time living in Louisville we became very close. We worked on a lot of fun and some very emotionally charged projects together. It was always interesting seeing the crazy setups she would do. She helped me create art to help me through a tough time and I hope I was able to do the same for her. That all said I couldn’t pass up a final opportunity to work with someone I had become so close to. The only time she had available was a Saturday evening. Turns out that Saturday I already had 2 other makeups to do. The first of which was a beauty shoot. Then from there I had a 30-40 minute drive to my next makeup which was the Hindu Goddess, Kali which was character body paint. Knowing that both of my other photo shoots were all so far out and even sprawling from each other I knew I couldn’t pass up working with my friend one last time. I did makeup on her first photo-shoot in Louisville and I wanted to book end it by working on her last.

Wheels were set in motion so we got to planning. The first model we cast was Abbie Purdie who I had worked with a lot recently and she always does a killer job. Chelsea and I knew we wanted to do something wild. The inspiration photos that Chelsea sent me had these crazy shadows and bugs incorporated into the makeup. She thought it would work best with two models. With Abbie being a Tall blonde I though Leah Goforth who is the same height and brunette would be great and the two would complement each other well.

For the bug element we decided to go with bees. We were short on time so I looked around a few place locally to find realistic looking fake bees. Nothing I could find really matched what we were going for. As it turns out finding dead bees intact in the middle of winter was not easy either. I called around to a few places that had hives to see if they had any that had died of natural causes. They did but they were not in good condition. With legs or wings missing they wouldn’t work for the looks we wanted. We needed them to be pristine. I am sure the models were happy I couldn’t find any dead bugs to work into the makeups but that meant we had to rethink our concept.

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Up until we showed up at the studio we didn’t really know what we were doing. I knew we had a great team with great models and Caleb Yeske doing hair. I like going in with a plan but I knew somehow we would be ok. Chelsea had an idea to use this crazy lens for her camera that can warp images and distort light called a Lens-Baby. Chelsea was also shooting through a separate piece of glass to catch the lights reflecting. It’s a really cool effect but I knew with that on top of the gels she was going to be using the makeup would get lost if I didn’t do something drastic.

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I decided to do the makeups almost as if the models were already in gelled lighting. In regular lighting the makeups looked pretty out there, almost like something you would have seen on Star Trek in the 60’s. I gave Leah a purple tone and Abbie a blue tone. I used all cream based makeups because airbrush would have been a little bit to clean of a transition. I thought they were very pretty but also other worldly. It’s important as a makeup artist to take the lights on a photo shoot into consideration. The makeups were extremely pale and blended down the neck to the chest. I used a really heavy copper to contour and then covered them both to finish the makeups off I used a frosted gold shimmer powder. With all of the lights I knew the shimmer would catch the lights and create a really nice effect. Luckily I have worked with Chelsea enough that she trusted that I had an idea of what I was doing.

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We were all looking at the images as they were being taken and they were looking phenomenal.  With the hair, the lighting setup, the crazy lens, makeup and the amazing models we got some really amazing images. I actually like how in the images you can see where the makeup stops and the skin starts. I think it shows how the lights really effected the overall look of the makeups. After the shoot a few of us went out for drinks. We went to a bar that has some dancing and a lot of neon lights. Abbie didn’t take off her makeup and when we got there I think she was afraid people would think she was nuts. The funny thing is with all of the neon lights in the bar she pretty much looked like how the final images turned out.

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Dark Heart Woods

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While at Transworld (which you can read about in my previous blog) I was able to speak with the talented Alana Rose Schiro. She was on season 3 of Face Off among other things. Alana is also the creator of Rotten Roses. She was one of my favorites on Face Off and is such an amazing artist. It was so nice to be able to talk to an artist whose work you admire and actually be able to converse with them. I was with my friend and fellow artist Rebecca Rhodes who was also my demo model for EBA Performance makeup at the convention. Alana had seen Rebecca the day before in a possession type makeup I had done on her and didn’t recognize her out of makeup. Alana seemed to take a liking to Rebecca’s look and suggested her and I could tag team a makeup sometime and Rebecca could be our model. Of course when hearing this Rebecca and I both perked up.

I was ecstatic at the idea to work with someone so talented but there was no time to try and do so at the convention. With Alana living in Los Angeles and me in Louisville,Ky. I couldn’t see how it would be possible any time soon. We talked a bit about it and came up with the idea that we would each do a body paint based on the same inspiration image. One of my many flaws which can also be a blessing is once I get my mind set on something I don’t let up until it’s done. I was sending Alana possible inspiration images and probably driving her insane. Understandably Alana was extremely busy and said she would have to wait until things calmed down before she could really dive into this project.

I had looked up so many possible inspiration photos but one really caught my attention. The image was of a gloomy forest with a path running down the middle. From the path was a column of light with a lone figure standing in the clearing.  The image had a very isolated and lonely feeling to it. Not to sound like a dark cloud but I have felt very much like that lately. The image of the lone figure standing alone in the path of trees spoke to me. I knew I had to do a body paint inspired by this picture. I was already considering using Rebecca as my model because of Alana but beyond that it just fit. With her jet black hair and strong yet elegant features I knew she would be perfect. That said I also knew that Rebecca had never done body paint modeling before. Modeling for body paint is a lot to ask of someone. They have to stand there for hours in most cases nude. It can be very vulnerable but also equally empowering. We had talked about body paints before but when it actually came time to ask I didn’t know what she would say. Luckily she trusted me and my vision and agreed.

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I asked Rebecca if she could give some insight into her experience as a body paint model. This is what she had to say, “I don’t really consider myself to be a model. I have stepped in front of the lens a couple times, but I consider myself to be an amateur. However, I hold the art of modeling in high esteem and respect, and the work that it takes. In the past I have done shoots almost entirely focused on my face and the makeup, but this time was extremely different. Matt asked me to be a part of the process and while I was nervous, I was so excited. Matt and I have a great working and personal relationship and I consider him to be one of my best friends as well as my mentor when it comes to my own personal growth as a makeup artist. So, when he asked me to be a part of this body paint, I was honored. Having never even done an implied nudity shoot to straight body paint was a big leap and it took a lot of mental determination to keep my own personal doubt from getting in the way of my work as the model. The night before the shoot I’d unfortunately been sexually harassed while out celebrating for my birthday, so I was feeling a little guarded. This being said, I knew I had to let the walls fall even though I’d be cold, exposed, standing for at least a couple hours, and I knew I was going to be antsy by the end of the process. However, Matt took care of me and made sure that I was in a comfortable environment and helped to put me at ease. When it came to the painting it took about 2 and a half hours and Matt did his best to work diligently, and doing the live stream on Facebook while being painted was also really fun and it kept things light and interesting. All in all, I am in LOVE with the paint and the way it turned out and I would definitely volunteer myself to be a body paint model again.”

I definitely wanted to alter the imagery of the inspiration a bit. Because of how it inspired me I wanted to twist the limbs of the trees into a heart with the light source emanating from the dark thicket. I also knew I wanted a lone figure in the heart so I chose a bat. I wanted to keep the bat small though because didn’t want it to really be a focal point. I wanted the forms to really fit Rebecca’s body so instead of using a generic body chart I asked if she would allow me to attempt to sketch it out on her body to see how the forms would flow. I am glad she did because the way I envisioned the heart in my head was not as long as it turned out being given the length of her torso. In the sketch I used different colors for the trees to denote background, midrange the foreground trees. With the sketch being as rough as it was I fully expected Rebecca to question my ability to pull it off. It looked like a huge mess but I could read the lines. I knew what it all meant and weather she did or not she trusted me.

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With my inspiration and model ready to go I knew I wanted a good photographer to help document the work. Danny Bloom is new to the creativity community in Louisville and is a hell of a photographer. Lucky for me he was all over the idea when I asked if he would be interested. I also knew I wanted a head piece or crown to pull it all together. I contacted my friend at Velvet Rose Vintage and asked how I would go about building such a thing. She listened to what I wanted and looked at my inspiration and sketch and said that she would just go ahead and build it herself. When I saw the Head Dress it was perfect for the look and feel I was going for. Danny brought some great ideas to the shoot as well. With it being dark and gloomy feeling body paint my first instinct was of course to have a dark back drop. Danny made the right choice in going with white which made the body paint and amazing head dress from Velvet Rose Vintage really shine.

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When doing body paints I don’t usually like to use pasties. Women’s bodies are over sexualized in media. You can see a billboard of a shirtless man but for whatever reason we deem the same type image of a woman as dirty. Aside from body paint being an art it’s also a celebration of the human body. That being said I just feel like it sends the wrong message that there is something about the female form that should be shameful and covered. However we had decided to do this body paint on Facebook live as Rebecca mentioned above. I knew we would unfortunately have to cover her nipples.  We used what are called Monster Pasties and they are seamless. Most pasties take paint terribly but makeup and body paint is what Monster Pasties are designed for. Once you get paint on them they disappear. I used two different types of paint on this as well. I used all EBA Endura alcohol based makeup in my airbrush. They make the best airbrush make up and it is all I will use. For some of the blending and Speckling I used Mehron water activated Paradise paints.

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I am so excited with how the body paint turned out. I appreciate everyone who helped this vision come together. I still plan and hope to do a body paint challenge in the near future with Alana. It will be very interesting to see how we interpret as single image differently.  That said I would like to do more of this type thing with other artists who I respect. It is always good to challenge and push yourself.

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Building the Look

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I wanted to talk a bit about building a look. To me it reminds me a bit of the phrase “cleaning top to bottom”. The reason you clean top to bottom is so when you clean things higher up it knocks the dirt down to the floor. If you swept first and then dusted and or wiped down your counter more times than not you will end up having to sweep again. I know it’s a strange way to think about building a makeup look but in my head I guess it kind of works. When building you generally work your way up from clean and simple and ending on a more dramatic look. This way you don’t have to strip off a makeup to build another, pretty simple right? I guess I look at the complete reapplication of the makeup like going back and sweeping the floor a second time.

Photographer Ahmad Merhi just moved to Louisville Kentucky from Massachusetts. We talked a bit about working together and started brain storming ideas. One of the ideas Ahmad mentioned was a drippy foundation makeup. I have seen a ton of them being done on Instagram so I knew I wanted to go in a different direction. Not only that but I kind of already did one a couple years back with dripping the foundation color down a throat tattoo giving the illusion of her face melting. We talked about it a bit and I started getting the idea that he wasn’t hung up on dripping foundation but just dripping. Once that was settled I asked him if he had a model in mind.

Model Abbie Purdie and I had been doing a lot of shoots together and we work really well with each other. Ahmad had seen our work and when he met me the first time he also met Abbie. Ahmad asked me if I could get Abbie to be our model and without much hesitation she agreed. He and I had already talked a bit about a dramatic drippy makeup concept but Abbie wanted to know if we could do some more fashion type shots before we went crazy with the makeup. I was totally into it because I knew I could build the makeup and give use more bang for our buck.

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Looking at the inspiration that Abbie provided I knew a dramatic smoky eye and simple lip would be the way to go. Abbie has beautiful piercing blue eyes so I knew using gold for the drippy portion of the makeup would be perfect to make her eyes pop even more. I could then extend the black from her smoky eye using the same eye shadow. I wanted to give the gold something to stand out against so I used the same black eye shadow on other areas of her face as well as her neck and coloar bone. Then before I started applying the gold I added a bit of glitter on the black areas to give it a little extra pop. The Glitter had a bit of blue fleck in it to bring in the color of Abbie's eyes a little bit more.

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Ahmad changed up the background and the lighting to give it a darker and more dramatic feel. With the makeup built upon and the back drop and lighting changed it looked lik two completely different photo shoots. Ahmad did a killer job handling both concepts in such a short amount of time. I am so glad Abbie suggested to do the other look and that Ahmad was totallu game for it. The change over took no time at all and the results were vast. Building a look can also be something as simple as going from day to night makeup by just adding a little more drama to the eyes and a bolder lip.

Ahmad, Abbie and myself

Ahmad, Abbie and myself

Shape of Colour: Inspiration

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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.

These were our Inspiration Images. I do not know the teams that created them sadly.

These were our Inspiration Images. I do not know the teams that created them sadly.

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.

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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.

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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.

Team Left To Right:  Model: Katya Estes  Hair Stylist: Caleb Yeske  Photographer: Erik Branch  Makeup: Myself

Team Left To Right:

Model: Katya Estes

Hair Stylist: Caleb Yeske

Photographer: Erik Branch

Makeup: Myself

Matt Goodlett Makeup 2018

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I have been going through some personal life changes here recently and not seeing things as I once did. 2017 was a tough year and I am glad to move past it and work on the future. I was questioning a lot about myself as well as the people around me. I know the “New Year” is nothing more than a continuation of time and dates are just a man-made construct but it is hard not to look at it as some kind of marker. I figured it was as good a time as any to look at 2018 as a rebuilding year. It was time to look at myself and figure out what I wanted, why I haven’t achieved it and how to change things in my life to make it happen.

I wanted to do something to symbolically signal not only to myself but everyone else that this was a change. I know it is not a big deal to some but to me my hair has always been a big deal. “I put on a few pounds, at least I have good hair”, “I have a fever blister, at least I have good hair”, “Why did I wear this stupid shirt, at least I have good hair.”, These are the things I would tell myself. When I was in middle school I would carry a collapsible brush in my pocket. Even younger than that my mom would talk me into getting haircuts by telling me I was going to get a “Ponch haircut”. Ponch was my favorite TV character from CHiPs. So as far back as I remember my hair has been important to me.

I am by no means saying my hair is the best but I like it. I’m also not saying that it may be a huge deal from the outside looking in, it’s just hair and it will grow. Everything in life is relative and I understand that. I have buzzed my hair before but it was always for something specific, like charity, or even a Halloween costume and I could explain my reasoning. This time the only way I could explain shaving my head in the middle of winter was that I needed to do something drastic. I knew I would regret it once it was done but that was part of the growth I guess in a strange way.

I felt this called for a new headshot of sorts. My good friend and photographer Danny Alexander had posted an image of a new lighting setup he was working on. If you are a Star Wars fan the lighting may look familiar. It looked amazing and I thought it would be a great way to capture this look I had in my head. I asked if he would be interested in taking my new headshot. I was excited when he said he would because I knew it would make me looker cooler than I actually am. Being a makeup artist I knew I had to do some kind of a makeup on myself. I landed on this idea because to me it signified breaking free of the darkness and trying to let your true colors show.

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I don’t like change but change is the only certainty in life so you better get use it. Change is scary but it has to happen and whether you like it or not it’s going to. If things are stagnant sometimes you need to do something drastic in order to jump start your change. You have to be able to adapt and keep moving. Change is nothing more than growth.

No Evil

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I have struggled with the idea of writing this blog and how to deal with the subject matter. I'm a fairly private person and I don’t really like airing my dirty laundry. I think writing down where these images came from may be good for me and will help others to understand that these aren’t just “cool” images. I was going through a really hard time over the holidays when my friend Chelsea Marrin, who is also a photographer, messaged me wanting to work together when she got back from Chicago. When she asked, I was so depressed I didn’t want to get out of bed let alone plan a photo shoot. She asked if I had any ideas so I thought about it for a few days. I have always been one to work through heart ache, among other things, through art and in this case, makeup. There was one idea that kept popping up in my head and I couldn’t ignore the concept any longer.

I didn’t want to get too specific as to why I was feeling down but after reading a very vague rough draft of this blog Chelsea told me I needed to explain more of what happened so that people could connect with the material. It’s hard for me because it’s embarrassing, but I know that I’m not the only person this has happened to and I won’t be the last. I also didn’t want anyone to think I was writing this to make anyone look bad because I still care about this person, even though I’ve been told I shouldn’t. The last thing I want is for this blog to hurt anyone. However, In order for this to mean anything I have to be honest and I have to put myself out there. After all, this is all about telling the truth.

I was with someone I loved very much, who said she loved me too. She was someone that I have known for a while. We met before she went back to school the summer of 2016 and formed a friendship. Her and I became very close friends while she was away. I felt I could tell her anything, which I did, and I felt she did the same. After she came home from school and we reconnected, we started casually dating. Some may have thought things moved fast but given our friendship and history feelings progressed very quickly. Looking back I think she underestimated how much I, or anyone, could love and care for her.

People would tell me how great we were together, and how we fit so well. She made me feel safe, and she made me happy. When I was with her my stress went away. When she told me she loved me, I felt invincible. As with any relationship, there were a few things that didn’t seem perfect, but that’s to be expected. Anything that I thought seemed questionable she was able to quickly answer my concerns with a logical explanation. Even when things didn’t add up I chose to believe her because I had known her for so long, I couldn’t ever see her lying. Knowing that I have trust issues, at one point she said, “Don’t you trust me?” as if to say I didn’t.  Those words put me on my heels and made me drop my guard. I thought she was right. Maybe I was being unfair and needed to just trust her. This person I had become so close to wouldn’t lie to me or hurt me.

Unfortunately I was wrong. It turned out that the whole time we had been together she had been seeing someone else. Weaving in and out of convincing lies, to not so convincing lies. The things that she would say to me just weren’t things you would say to someone you were cheating on. We talked about things regarding "our" future together. We talked about marriage. Not about getting married right away, but someday. We talked about if I wanted kids someday because she did. I just couldn’t fathom that she would talk about the future with someone she was also being so dishonest with. The problem was that I was happy. Being happy doesn’t sound like it would be a problem, but in this case it was. It blinded me to what was going on because I was made to feel like the most important person in her life. When it was brought to my attention what was going on I questioned her about it and she confessed to everything.

I was left wondering who and what to believe and I had no idea what was real. “See  No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” (No Evil) was the idea I came up with. To me and what I was going through it had several meanings. I had shut things out and ignored red flags to see or hear what I wanted in order to stay happy. Was I only showed what was known I wanted to hear and see to keep me from asking any questions? Why did I not speak up? Was I being manipulated? I still refuse to believe it wasn’t partially real. I know for a fact, what I felt was real and that is at least my reality.

Chelsea liked the idea so we started planning. It would be pretty high concept so the images would work outside of the context of the theme. The idea being, I would black out the feature on the model that the phrase pertained to. The black makeup would be very hard lined and harsh but asymmetrical and would end by pointing at the heart. For example, for “Speak no Evil” the mouth would be blacked out, and so on. This would mean we would need models with strong features for the parts of the face that weren’t going to be blacked out. The meaning being that the truth is definite and sometimes hard to hear but it’s not always perfect. I wanted it to point at the heart because to represent intentions. Like I said, I would like to believe nothing was done maliciously. Believing anything else would make her a monster and I don't believe that to be true.

The first model that popped into my head was Katya Estes. She has always been such a great friend and I knew I would want her on set. Aside from being a great friend she has amazing lips that I knew would be perfect for “See no Evil” since her mouth would be featured. For “Speak no Evil” with the way I was going to be doing the black makeup I knew not only did I need great eyes but strong jawline. My friend and fellow makeup artist Portia Greene was an obvious choice given the criteria. With her pale piercing eyes and sharp jawline she was perfect. For “Hear no Evil” all that would be blacked out was the ears. With that said I just needed a pretty face. Alex Hepfinger would have been my first choice but I had just worked with her using a lot of heavy black makeup. As perfect as she would be I didn’t feel I could use her again so soon. After the model I did cast canceled last minute it only made sense to ask Alex. I was lucky that Alex agreed to come in last minute. Alex is another person that is just great to have in studio so with that we were set.

The morning of the photo-shoot I woke up to the pitch black darkness of my lower level apartment. I stepped out of bed onto my tile floor to an odd sensation. Being half asleep, still I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. After a few steps I slipped and fell landing on the right side of my body to a big splash. My neighbor’s pipes had frozen and burst, flooding my apartment. After the initial shock wore off and maintenance had been called, I noticed my hand was in extreme pain. All but my index finger and thumb felt like they had been jammed all the way back to my wrist. Not a good thing considering I had to do three very steady handed straight-lined makeups. By the time they pumped all the water out of my apartment, it was time to pack up and go to the studio.

Once we were in studio and started the process everything seemed to fall into place. The makeups were going well. Models were showing up on their staggered times and Chelsea was getting great shots and even some video. We wrapped up and Chelsea and I sat there, talking about doing something and going somewhere to hang out. We ended up just sitting there for at least an hour. Truth be told, I just didn’t want to go home. A few days later Chelsea messaged me, saying that because of a computer issue, she had lost all of the images. With the emotion that went into the makeups I knew I couldn’t and didn’t want to recreate them. I took it as 2017 getting in one last hit with this being my last makeups of the year. Needless to say losing the images was a punch in the gut. I sat down and poured some bourbon when Chelsea texted me. Luckily she was able to retrieve the images and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

See  Photo: Chelsea Marrin  Model: Katye Estes  Makeup: Myself

See

Photo: Chelsea Marrin

Model: Katye Estes

Makeup: Myself

As a makeup artist I generally opt for images to be in color. With these, it made more sense for them to be in black and white. The color images also looked so good but after talking it out we decided black and white was the way to go. Not only did they look great but it fit the meaning of the photos. The truth is black and white but people are more complicated. Thematically, it was the way to go.

Hear  Photo: Chelsea Marrin  Model: Alex Hepfinger  Makeup: Myself

Hear

Photo: Chelsea Marrin

Model: Alex Hepfinger

Makeup: Myself

Trust is not something that should be given out easily. I used to trust everyone until they gave me a reason not to. That has burned me more times than I can count. Trust your instincts. If something seems off, it probably is. I ignored the signs and had my trust issues that I have built up over time brought into question. It has left me wondering if I can trust anything or anyone. I really hope that feeling fades, because not being able to trust anyone seems like a very lonely existence. The situation is really hard because I greatly miss this amazing person that I thought I knew. With that said, I would rather a hard truth than a kind lie. As humans we can be pretty resilient and more times than not we can come out on the other side with a life lesson. What is important is how you let that life lesson shape you.

Speak  Photo: Chelsea Marrin  Model: Portia Greene  Makeup: Myself

Speak

Photo: Chelsea Marrin

Model: Portia Greene

Makeup: Myself

Photographed: 12.30.17
Written 1.8.18

https://www.chelseamarrin.com/

The Crown Vox Experience

A little over a year ago I got a friend request on Facebook. As I do with all friend requests to weed out spam accounts I messaged them and asked if we had ever met. They told me that they liked my work and that someday they would like to work together.  Her name is Jennifer Burris, also known as Crown Vox which is her stage persona.  I had been contacted by musicians and other performers before and it never really pans out so I didn’t really give it a second thought at first.

I looked through her promotional type photos and they really fit with the aesthetic I like. I then listened to her music and I was blown away. I can’t describe the music other than to say it has a dark ethereal quality to it and fit the imagery perfectly. I knew then I had to do her makeup. With her living so far away I didn’t think it would ever really happen. I maintained communication just in case she came through on tour we could set something up.

When we finally got a chance to work together nearly a year to the day after our first contact she told me about her up coming launch show The Crown Vox Experience. She described it as an all immersive experience with dancers, models, fashion, and artists. It sounded so cool and I really just wanted to see the spectacle. I jokingly asked if she had anyone to do makeup for the event. Not that I thought I would be able to do it anyhow considering the distance. She told me she already had someone which I kind of figured anyhow. We finished up the shoot and hung out and drank bourbon because when you’re in Kentucky that’s what you do.

About a month or so after the shoot, Jennifer asked if she could call me. I was afraid she wanted to talk about not liking the photos from our shoot. I told her I could call her that evening and I was anticipating the worst. Later that evening I called her and she asked if I wanted to come to do the makeup for her launch show; The Crown Vox Experience. I don’t know if I even let her get the full sentence out before I said yes.

I would not only be doing her makeup but the makeup for all six of the models plus a live body paint on a hoop dancer. That’s a lot of makeup to do in one day but I take all challenges. We talked about different looks. Some of the looks were super dramatic with different styles of Blade Runner (Pris) esque makeups. Knowing all of my makeup would have to be able to fit in a carry on luckily we went with a simplified look. We decided on a reddish smoky eye and a more muted lip with contour and gold highlight. I would add gold flake and a darker defined lip to Jennifer’s Crown Vox Look. Jennifer said she would leave the body paint up to me which I was excited about.

I Stripped out my smallest kit and rebuilt it for the show looks so it would fit as a carry on because I didn’t trust checking my makeup. After going through TSA and getting felt up pretty good I was on my way to Memphis, with a stop in Atlanta which is where I ran into an issue. I was flying standby and as it turns out it was the start of Elvis week in Memphis. Needless to say I got bumped. Jennifer’s husband Michael who arranged my travel was afraid if I waited to catch a flight in the morning and I got bumped again I wouldn’t make it in time and we couldn't risk that. There is a lot more to this part of the story but I got a rental car at 11pm and started my six hour drive to Memphis.

After a couple hours of sleep it was time to wake up and get my bearings before starting makeup at noon. I set up a makeup station to get myself ready for what I assumed would be a melee of makeup. People started trickling in to get there makeup done. Knowing I had a ton of work ahead of me Jennifer got an assistant for me for the day named Meredith Shaw. I can be a bit of a control freak and have rarely ever had an assistant. However I knew this would be too much for me to handle on my own and maintain quality work. I had Meredith start applying foundation to the models so I could focus on the eyes, lips, contour and highlight. Having Meredith there proved to be very valuable. She did a great job and I would work with her again.

After I finished up Jennifer’s makeup last I packed up my kit and headed over to the venue. The event was being held at the historic and amazing Clayborn Temple. It was a beautifully interesting place and perfect for the feel of this show. It was ornate but in disrepair in spots which made it that much cooler looking and fitting. I wanted the body paint to tie into Crown Vox and the space so I decided to do a half skull on her face like in the Crown Vox logo. I then wanted some refined gold geometric shaped surrounded by chaos.

Jennifer set me up right in the middle so I would be the first thing people saw when they walked in. The clock struck eight and the doors opened with the opening act Epps Music performing which was amazing and kind of reminded me of Coco Rosie. Ellen Phillips, the hoop dancer I was painting kind gave each other a look as if to say “here we go” as people poured in around us and I continued painting. I was very happy with the way she turned out and I felt it really fit the vibe of the show.

The models were stationed almost as guards around the venue in designs by the amazing Siss Viss and hair done by Laveau hair studio.  The clothing designs fit the feel of the venue and show perfectly and really transported you into another place. Jennifer aka Crown Vox started her performance in the balcony behind and above the audience. With her beautiful voice filling the temple she strolled along to the stage in a beautifully designed dress by Siss Viss with a crown by Louisville Designer Frances Lewis helping set the mood. As she sang the models stood in formation in balconies in eye sight looking over the audience. I haven’t seen a concert like this ever because the Crown Vox Experience was so much more than just a concert.

I am so happy I got to be a part of this. Watching my body paint perform and my makeups add to the overall feel of the experience was amazing and so fulfilling. I guess the main take away from this is just because something doesn’t happen right away doesn’t mean it won’t. If you are patient sometimes things pay off far better than you could have ever expected. I met so many cool people and I really hope to do this again sometime.

Twin Cheeks

A handful of makeup artists and me do these makeup challenges. There are no winners and no losers just creativity and art. We get an inspiration image and then we have just under a week to produce something cool inspired by it. We haven’t done a makeup challenge in a while so when I was told we were going to do a new one I was torn because I never back down from a challenge. With that said I was so busy this time around that I didn’t think I would have time. It has happened before where I said I was too busy but the inspiration image was just too cool I did it anyhow. I had no intentions in participating regardless of how cool I thought the inspiration image was.

 Last November I did makeup for a fashion show and two of the models walking were twins. I didn’t get a chance to talk to them at the time and couldn’t find them on social media so I kind of gave up. The same day I found out we were doing another challenge I just happened across one of the twins and was quickly able to find the other. Their names are Avery and Mallory Grant and they have such a strong look even as single standalone models. The fact there are two of them is just a bonus. As I was talking to the Grant twins the makeup challenge inspiration image was posted. This time around it was actually a picture of a face in abstract makeup. Usually the image isn’t even of a face, let alone distinct makeup. It struck me it would be really cool to do a similar look spanning two identical faces.

Inspiration Image: Artist Unknown

Inspiration Image: Artist Unknown

With an idea in my head I asked the Grants if they would be interested. Using twins was the only way I was going to do it so if they declined I wasn’t going to participate. As I say that but I probably still would have. It wouldn’t be a makeup challenge without my good buddy Danny Alexander shooting it so I asked if would. Lucky for me he said yes and with that I had a great team of people and it was a go.

I did a pretty basic beauty makeup on Avery and Mallory. It was interesting to do the makeup and then turning around and doing the same makeup on the same contours and everything. My plan for a pose was them standing hip to hip with their faces looking somewhat towards each other at a 45 degree angle to get a three quarter look at opposing sides of their faces. I had them stand together so I could get the composition of the abstract portion to plow from one face to another.

Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Getting them in front of the camera in the pose was a different story. In that pose there was just too much space between the faces. We had the sisters get uncomfortably close but the gap still took you out of it. To Danny’s credit he suggested a pose where Mallory would be in profile and Avery would be behind her looking straight on as her sister’s face intersected her. I had the models stand in position and tweaked the abstract portion a bit to maintain the flow. Then when they got in front of the camera it just clicked, pardon the pun.

I love all of the makeup challenged we have done together but this may be my favorite. I almost counted myself out of this one and I am so glad I didn’t. Just because you are busy doesn’t mean you can’t carve out time for the things you love.

Me with Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Me with Mallory and Avery Grant. Photo By Danny Alexander

Ghouble Gum

In this industry making good connections is so important and more often than not leads to other opportunities. I did makeup on a fashion photo shoot with an amazing team a while back in Louisville, ky. Like me, our model Melanie Smith is a makeup artist in a haunted attraction. Her makeup manager at her haunt is none other than Aryn Fox from Skin Wars. I was happy to just be doing beauty makeup on Melanie because I don’t feel my body paint is anywhere near as good as Aryn’s work. Granted her style of body paint is just a different style than mine. She is definitely an artist I look up to though.

Towards the end of the shoot Melanie told me about this Gallery Hop that was happening in Lexington, Ky. Three O Studio was doing a nude photography exhibit and wanted to do something a little different to bring people in. They thought a live body painting would go well with the photos they were displaying. Melanie asked if I would be interested in doing the body paint. I don’t know if she waited until meeting me and working with me to ask and see if we got along first or it had just slipped her mind up to that point. I wouldn’t blame her for either. Her having worked with an amazing talent like Aryn Fox was definitely intimidating. With that said painting for a live audience was intriguing.

“I’ve been a body paint model numerous times, and most of them have been live paints. So walking into the studio, knowing that people would be stairing at me during the entire process, was just like another day at work for me. I had also worked with Matt before so I knew we would have a blast.” -Melanie Smith

Photo By Jim Calabrese

Photo By Jim Calabrese

After talking to Bill Cole the organizer I accepted the job. Other than doing the body paint live there was a huge catch. We wanted photographers in attendance to be able to have some time to shoot the final piece. In doing so I would only have about two and a half hours to complete the body paint live all the while people talking to me and asking me questions. I like a good challenge but I felt I had bit off a bit more than I could chew. I have felt that way before though and I have yet to not have it turn out well.

I was given free reign to paint whatever subject matter I pleased. Being given creative freedom was another reason I was interested in this job. I decided I would go with something abstract. It would be simple yet dynamic. With it being abstract no one would be able to see if anything was wrong because there would be no frame of reference.  Not to mention if I screwed up at all I could work it into the finished work. Plus I love doing more abstract type work so I saw it as a win win.

Two days before the event I was sitting on my couch and I just started flipping through a coffee table book I have “Goth-Icky”. It’s a picture book filled with retro pop art Halloween designs by Charles S. Anderson Design Company. If you are a fan of Halloween I highly recommend it. Looking through the art work in the book it struck me. My model Melanie and I both love Halloween and doing something in that theme would be really cool. When I was painting more canvas I did a lot of cell shaded type pop art zombies and monsters so I was excited.

Since it was so late when the pop Halloween idea struck me I slept on it. The next day I starting sketching it out with a yellow high lighter and then refined the sketches with black marker. I would then run the sketches through a copy machine which would not copy the highlighter and leave me with just the black. I just kept doing that process until I got it right. Given the subject matter I knew people would expect more Halloween horror type colors like oranges, reds, purples, blacks and greys. I love all those colors and they were all my first instinct as well so that is exactly why I didn’t want to do it. I chose a kind of bubble gum and cotton candy color scheme using pinks and blues.

Pinks and blues aren’t typically a pallet I work with so I was hoping it would look cool because I had not sketched it out in full color. I talked it over with Melanie when she showed up to the event and she was totally game.

“I loved the concept Matt had come up with. We both work at different haunted houses and have a general love for all things creepy and Halloween. So when he explained we would be doing a vampire-esque paint I was all for it.” –Melanie Smith

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Melanie is so easy going I think I could have told her I was going to paint her like a farm animal and she would have been game. I didn't want to use a stencil so I took my drawing of the head which was the right size for her body and I poked some holes in it. I poked the holes in the eyes, the teeth and the windows of the castle.  I then placed it on her where I wanted it and painted through the holes on to her giving myself guidelines. Starting with the white and working my way to using the black last was strange in front of a live audience. I knew that the black paint at the end is what was going to pull it all together but the on lookers didn’t know that. It did bother me a little bit when people would show up and leave only seeing the white, blue and pink blobbed on before it really looked like anything. I was very happy with the finished piece and wish the people that left early would have stayed to see it.

 

Photo By Jim Calabrese

Photo By Jim Calabrese

“I love modeling paint because I am able to bring life to someone’s work. These artists spend hours on each paint, so I want to be sure to represent that character or theme to the best of my ability. But what was so cool about this paint was that it was already me. This piece had “me” written all over it: from the colors, to the design, to the crazy wild hair. It was so much fun to bring out that side of myself!” –Melanie Smith

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

Photo By Dusty Dunaway

 I felt it very much fit my personality andMelanie’s as well. She seemed to really like the final look which is what I was going for. I knew if she was happy with it having worked with great artists before me I knew I had done a good job.

Every opportunity no matter how big or small can lead to your next great thing. Weather that opportunity be creative freedom, money, fulfillment or whatever just keep pushing forward. I’m not saying do things you have no interest in but do things out of your comfort zone that challenge and scare you. If you don’t learn or take something away from every gig you do you’re not paying attention.

Photo By Jim Calabrese

Photo By Jim Calabrese

Coming Clean

This is the third of the makeup challenges that Bethany Hood has given her fellow makeup artist friends. The image this time was picked by designer Gunnar Detherage. Knowing what I know of his style I didn’t expect so many bright, almost neon colors. I have enjoyed these challenges so far so I thought I would give this one a shot. I contacted a model for the shoot and my good friend and photographer Danny Alexander and wheels were set in motion. Now I just needed to settle on an idea. With all of the colors and textures I had a few concepts rolling around in my head.

An hour or so before the makeup application and shoot the model messaged me and after some texts back and forth we determined that she would not be able to make the shoot. The image had to be done by the next day so there was no time to reschedule. There was also no time to find a replacement model. I was scrambling trying to think of what to do. Instead of canceling and I decided to shave my face and chest and do the makeup on myself. I’m no model but that's why it's called a challenge.

I know it is strange for a makeup artist but not only do I not wear makeup but I hate wearing it. I think it goes back to when I was a kid. I had really bad acne and was embarrassed by it. One day I decided to hide it and use some of my mom’s makeup. I covered up all the redness with some of her Covergirl concealer and a powder compact. I didn’t like the way it felt on my skin but I thought it looked better than all of my blemishes. It was like I had discovered a magic trick. This went on for several weeks at least if not much longer. It was over the summer when I started so I didn’t have to worry about the other kids at school.  I thought it was working and no one was noticing.

 I don’t know why I didn’t think the other kids wouldn’t notice when school started because they most definitely did. I denied it until I was blue in the face but after another kid snatched off my baseball hat the makeup ring in the inner band was a dead giveaway. I never fessed up and they knew I was lying. I knew they knew I was lying but I couldn’t come clean. I gradually stepped it down because I didn’t want to be obvious. Eventually I stopped wearing it and soon the kids moved on to something else. I should have come clean and owned it. With that said, kids that age will make up reasons to pick on each other and I didn’t want to give them any more ammunition. I walked on eggshells and probably joined in on picking on others to deflect attention from myself which just made me feel worse.

Three schools, two states and several years later doing a play in high school we had to wear makeup. I was the only guy in the production that had any knowledge of how to apply foundation. I ended up helping all of the other guys in the play and was appreciated for it. When asked how I kind of knew what I was doing I chalked it up to the fact that I took art and painted as well. Part of me knew it was because I wore my mom’s makeup when I was 11 or 12. To a bunch of drama kids me wearing makeup when I was in middle school would have just been another story about how we were all “outsiders” and it would have been expected and embraced. It would have been the perfect opportunity to come clean and bond with my fellow actors but I didn’t. Even as an adult doing makeup I’ve still never shared this story with anyone. This is the first time I have really come clean about it so if you are reading this blog, now you know.

Back to the subject at hand; I explained to Danny how we no longer had a model and I would be doing my own makeup. Danny wasn't phased by the change and didn’t miss a beat. I changed a few things to make it fit my face a bit better. I decided to throw in some contacts and the makeup went from pretty to creepy really quick. I still don’t like wearing makeup but I am happy with the way this one worked out. The most important thing I hope you take away from reading this is just be you. Don’t care what others think and own who you are. Chances are someone is going through something similar and can relate. I know that’s easy for me to say now but had I listened to this advice as a kid maybe I would be a lot further along than I am in a career in makeup. Support your passions and surround yourself with others that support them as well.

Danny Alexander: http://www.dannypa.com/

https://www.crownbrush.com/

https://www.wonderbandsystems.com/

Mandarin Duck Challenge

As a way to help bring our artistic community together fellow makeup artist Bethany Hood decided to have a challenge. There were no winners and no losers.  This was just be a great way for people to show off their talent and creativity.  Bethany had an outside source pick an image that we would all have to use as inspiration and design our looks around.

The image that was picked was of a Mandarin Duck. They look like you gave a coloring book of ducks and a 64 color box of crayons to a kid and said go to town. The colors are so vivid and beautiful and blocked off. I had no idea what I was going to do. All I could see was the duck. I didn’t want to do feathers or anything birdlike, that much I knew. I struggled with it for a few days. I went back to look at the image of the duck and squinted my eyes really hard to try and take the bird out of the equation.

That seemed to do the trick. I decided to do a very abstract piece using as many different brush strokes and colors as were on the duck. Since I have never liked makeup on myself and the only camera I own is my phone I enlisted the help of some friends. I messaged my friend and great photographer Danny Alexander who I knew would capture the makeup the way I wanted. I then messaged my friend and Model Kaylynn Nyree. I felt her face would be beautiful for this look. While doing the makeup I would step back from time to time to make sure the color balance was right. The main thing I took from the duck was the white around the eyes. I thought that would make for a cool aesthetic. Since it was a makeup challenge the only editing I wanted Danny to do was making the sclera of her eyes black.  I was incredibly happy with how it came out.

Seeing all the makeups from all of the other artists was so cool. Everyone did such an amazing job. It was very interesting to see everyone’s interpretation of the same image. I cannot thank Bethany enough for doing something like this. It was such a cool way to bring a community together while fostering creativity.

Transworld HAAS 2017

I had been excited for Transworld ( http://www.haashow.com ) since we wrapped our Halloween season at the Devil's Attic. ( http://thedevilsattic.com ). For those of you that don't know Transworld HAAS is the largest Halloween and haunted house convention in America and it is located in Saint Louis. You see some amazingly creative macabre things. There is tons of stuff to buy from vendors from all across the country for your haunted attraction in one place.  If you just look around and use your imagination there is a lot of things to just be inspired by. I was talking with Michael Book who owns Louisville Halloween (  http://www.louisvillehalloween.com ) and Danger Run ( http://www.dangerrun.com ) about going to the trade show. Knowing how much I love European Body Art he suggested I ask them if they would want me to do a demo for them.

I kind of laughed it off because I know the caliber of artists they generally have at these types of things. Last year they had Nix Herrera and RJ Haddy. If you aren't familiar with them do yourself a favor and look them up. Both of them are amazing artists and competed on Face Off. I have followed them both and lets just say I am a fan. The more I sat on it the more I thought "All they can do is say no". I reached out to the sales rep Alden I work with at EBA expecting him to tell me that they have it covered.

Alden messaged me back telling me that the only artist they had this year was Nix and that he could probably use me for me for a demo. I was blown away, Not only would I get to do a demo, but I would be one of only two artists doing demos for them, the other being Nix Herrera.

Excitement changed to fear very quickly. I have never backed down from a challenge though, especially when I put myself in the situation in the first place. When opportunity knocks you answer and hopefully you can rise to the occasion. the first thing I did when I arrived in Saint Louis before I even unpacked my gear was head over to the convention center. I wanted to get a feel for the show because I still didn't know what I was going to do. I thought stopping by and seeing what Nix was up to would be a good idea.

Nix Herrera and I

Nix Herrera and I

Nix was doing some amazing stuff as I knew he would. I introduced myself to him and he was so gracious. He had just done an amazing zombie makeup. I kinda laughed and said "Well I guess I can't do a zombie now".  That's when he put me at ease. I can't remember his exact wording but he basically told me to do a zombie if I wanted. that of course our zombies would look different but that wasn't because he was better, but just that we were different artists. For some reason that calmed me down.

I talked to the model/actor I would be working on named Lucas Turner to get a feel for what we could do. Lucas is an actor at a Haunt called Phobius ( http://phobiushaunt.com ) about forty minutes outside of Saint Louis. He was a super nice guy and through talking with him I learned he loved the Joker and zombies. When I suggested I could maybe do a zombie Joker I could tell he was into it and with that said I now had a plan.

 

Me working on Lucas. Photo by Justin Sinkler.

Me working on Lucas. Photo by Justin Sinkler.

So there I was early Sunday morning on the last day of the convention. I had coffee coursing through me as I worked out of Nix's kit with my wonderband strapped on my arm loaded up with brushes from Crew 13 Productions. Once I got started I settled into my zone. I knew I was there to do a makeup. Alden had seen my work and knew what I was capable of. It was at that point I started to have fun with it. 

Me working on Lucas. Photo by Justin Sinkler.

Me working on Lucas. Photo by Justin Sinkler.

It also didn't hurt that talking to Lucas was like talking to an old friend. People were stopping by, buying product and taking photos of me working. it was such a cool experience. to say I love European Body Art is an understatement. it is the only product we use in the Devil's Attic makeup room. Even in the hot days of September our sweatiest actors can't sweat it off. It is just an amazing product and I am so proud I got to do a demo for them.

Of course Harley has to mark her territory.

Of course Harley has to mark her territory.

With Lucas being bald I thought that painted on hair would be something that a bald Joker would do as part of his makeup routine.

With Lucas being bald I thought that painted on hair would be something that a bald Joker would do as part of his makeup routine.

Needless to say Transworld was a great success! I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I was able to meet a ton of makeup artists that I admire. I could list them off but it would sound like name dropping. my final note would be to never count yourself out, never think you aren't good enough. You will never know if you don't ask and if they say yes it is your job to surpass expectations.

 

https://www.europeanbodyart.com/

https://www.wonderbandsystems.com/

https://www.crew13productions.com/

Contentment in Captivity

During Antonio's first photography workshop it was already a thought that we may do them quarterly. After the success of that class it cemented that idea. The first class was a "not so basic" lighting and editing class. We wanted to do something different for the next class, something with a little bit of a "wow" factor.

The idea was to do the hair and makeup, shoot the images, pick the images and then edit them together. That's right, edit them together because the next class would be how to create a composite image. Quite a large scale project to do in a class only three hours in length. We knew we had two models and a mannequin dress form. Antonio knew he wanted one of the models head's on the dress form.

Knowing that it would be silly to just throw a head on the mannequin with no story, we decided to meet over tacos and brainstorm.  The first idea was more for an 80's look. I was excited about doing that makeup and thought it could look really cool. However, the more we talked about it the more it didn't make sense with two models and the composite. In a moment of grasping at straws, I, having worked at a haunted house, blurted out "We could just have one model sewing the other model's head on to the mannequin's torso."

With that, Antonio's eyes lit up. HIs mind is just as twisted as mine and he suggested adding a pigs heart attached with wires to a car battery and the macabre list went on. Needles to say, we scaled back a bit. This completely changed the makeup look that would be needed for the workshop. Joey piped in to say "And Matt can do the severed head makeup." When I rattled off the idea that wasn't something that even crossed my mind. Now I would be doing not one, but two, beauty makeups and a severed head. Oh, and to prove that I am a glutton for punishment, I then suggested adding an eye patch and scar on the model that would be doing the sewing. Managing the makeup and spfx staff for the Devil's Attic haunted house for two years definitely helped in my ability for that amount of makeup application to be completed in such a short amount of time. 

We could have stuck with the 80's makeup but we took a different a route that just seemed to make more sense. We wanted it to have a Frankenstein/Addams Family/Nightmare Before Christmas kinda of feel. Our hair stylist, Michelle, said she was going to make a bride of Frankenstein inspired wig for Katya (our head model). We then brought in Francis Lewis to make a dress for our other model, Alexis, in the style of Wednesday Addams. Knowing we couldn't go with a stock eye patch, I embellished one with hot glue, cut up plastic plates, a plastic skull and black spray paint.

The class went off without a hitch. We had such an amazing team from top to bottom. it was amazing to see it all come together and to work seamlessly in such a short amount of time. Three hours is not a lot of time to accomplish something of this scale. Normally that's how long the hair and makeup alone would have taken for something of this caliber I am super proud of what we accomplished and created, I can't wait for the next one!

Photo: Antonio PantojaAntonio Pantoja - Photography and Cinematography
Makeup/SFX: Matt GoodlettMatt Goodlett, MUA
Hair: Michelle Villareal
Stylist: Frances Lewis
Model: Katya Estes
Model: Alexis Gibson
Hand model: Rachel White
Lighting: Joey Goldsmith
Behind The Scenes: Gary BarraganGary Barragan Photography
Behind The Scenes: Misha Kidwell
Assistant: Justin Sinkler

Special thank you to my sponsors:

Tyler green with Wonderband Systems https://www.wonderbandsystems.com/ - The Wonderband made makeup application so much more efficient. Plus it just looks cool.

Crown Brush https://www.crownbrush.com/ - I can't say enough about this amazing company. They are awesome and their brushes are all I will use now.

European Body Art http://www.europeanbodyart.com/ - By far my favorite makeup for body paint and special effects. Such an amazing product.

Moo. https://www.moo.com/us/ -The only business cards I will carry. The quality is amazing as is the customer service.

  

Marionette

Sometimes the masks we wear aren't to hide who we are but to express our true nature.

When Hunter came to me with this marionette concept I instantly thought of David Bowie. The makeup was inspired heavily by his "Pinups" album cover featuring Twiggy and his "Pierrot" clown makeup look. I love how this all came together.

I think we can all agree that 2016 was a rough one but let's not dwell on it. Going into 2017 let's focus on making the world a more beautiful place. Focus on what you have passion for and help and support others to do the same. We are all on this spaceship we call Earth.

I am going to do my best to inspire other artists and in doing so get inspired by them. That's what this is all about. Inspiration upon inspiration will only foster growth for us all.

 

Photo: Hunter Zieske
Model: Jacey Calloway
Makeup: Matt GoodlettMatt Goodlett, MUA
Hair: Rian Miller
Photo Assistant: Louis Tinsley