Makeup Illustration © Lose & Find

Beauty Au Natural?

WHEN PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.

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In the mediated world of the twenty-first century, it can seem like all your friends at 21 have the same, smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom skin that they popped into the world with, sans trickery. And while the fact is most of them won’t and we all know it, we still torture ourselves with the idea that the rest of the world is perfect, and we, the ugly club’s sole member, should probably be getting that brown paper bag for our heads already… BUT. Just like the models at fashion week will have been wearing cosmetics, so will they. While ‘The Barely There’ face is of my favourite make up looks, it is named with a wonderful amount of irony, considering the amount of products this actually takes to achieve for most. The make-up trade’s trick is to do au natural, without letting on there’s anything there at all. That’s easier said than done, however as someone once said, it is simply that practice makes perfect, and this philosophy is as true of make up as it is of anything else. From the internet to in the supermarket, on the TV to the billboards, from me to you: we’re all wrapped up in this casual trickery. Should we be worried?

Last term, Charles III Photography collaborated with friends to create their ‘People in Places’ album, and I had the pleasure of working as make-up artist with model-for-the-day, the lovely Caroline Lewin to recreate a subtle, natural glowing skin tone. The great thing about working with non-editorial/beauty models is it not only gives you a chance to demonstrate your skills as a make-up artist, but even better, it gives everyday gals a chance to realise that with the right make-up, anyone can match the supple, fresh complexion of Taylor Swift. Which in turn, makes me wonder…

Fresh, glowing skin for  © Charles III Photography
Fresh, glowing skin for © Charles III Photography

Working and living with make up day in and day out, as most women of our era do, can make one wonder about the conflicting pressures to be a certain type of beautiful, and to be it naturally. Let’s face it: as unfortunate as it is, we can’t all be that (annoyingly pretty but most likely lovely) friend who’s skin unfairly perfect. Certainly growing up in my house, I was always told not to wear make-up, but I was left to make my own decision this evidently did not happen. From around fifteen, I had a morning routine of experimenting with “painting my face” (quote Daddy Black) and as I’ve grown older, this routine play with and between a ‘natural’ self, self-representation and self-fashioning that happens each morning, has become an interesting dilemma – which crops up particularily when I get the feeling I shouldn’t step out of my room without looking decently human. To be fair, my hung-over zombie look is not particularly pleasant for anyone involved, but who am I pleasing when I chuck on some concealer and mascara…?

SO WHAT?

It doesn’t take much internet searching or general pondering to see that the bigger and overt issues of ‘acceptable’ image are everywhere from the London SlutWalks, the first UK case legally classifying an attack on a goth in Manchester as legitimate hate crime, the Berka banned in French schools. But even the issues as simple as the way our complexion is, or the size of the circles under are eyes are in play with these standardisation of what is deemed ‘right’, ‘preferable’ or even ‘acceptable’. There is underlying a societal pressure to meet a disturbingly naturalised idea of appearance that simply doesn’t seem to be reachable without make-up, and it’s been prevalent in human society as far back as the Egyptians.

While it’s all great to celebrate ‘natural beauty’ and damn the cosmetics industry for instilling false ideals of ‘real’ beauty, how natural is the beauty we’re celebrating? Realistically, if you get an inconveniently placed spot and have to option of covering it up, most of us are still going to reach for the concealer and conform. Ladies, if you’ve got bags under your eyes because you’ve been up writing essays/blogging/procrastinating, Benefit’s Erase Paste is probably going to be on the agenda the next morning. (Lads, is the equivalent a bleary shave, careful mussing of the hair and a lot of splashing cold water?) There is something to be said for how our scientifically validated world values what science says is healthy. And to state the blindingly obvious, no one I know actively strives to look bad. But the conversations that don’t happen are the ones about what this pressure of ‘bad’ is and where it comes from…

Where does bad come from then? Maybelline, it’s not looking good for you…

Realising the tools the media industry has at its disposal to warp our self-perception can be powerful, and at least empower us to consider what influences our everyday decisions. We all know that physical beauty is what it says on the tin – skin deep –  but that knowledge (for me at least) doesn’t supplant some socially constructed and innate desire to look a certain way. Should I be more wary of the discourse I am entering into and perhaps advocating by performing a certain type of image and denouncing another? Furthermore, what are the fashion, beauty and make-up industries which I so adore, doing to the way we perceive and present ourselves? Is this concealer routine a path of good, or evil?

This is is more of a pondering on self-perception and social influences than any attempt to pose an answer or impose a judgement. Equally, there are still so many thoughts of social branding and non-verbal communication flapping about my head that I simply cannot continue to ramble on with.  Make up is still for me, a pretty fantastic way of creatively “expressing yourself” or “self-fashioning” or whatever you want to call it – albeit superficially. I’m (a little self-indulgently) convinced as long as I’m thinking about these things, and trying to make conscious choices, my brain won’t vegetate.

What do you think, Emma?

Any thoughts? Comment.

Peace out.

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Watercolour Work: Sarah Singh Illustration

The art spotlight falls this week on a wonderful, softly spoken London-born artist (currently residing in NYC) with a degree in fashion design from Beckman’s Colllege of Art and Design in Stockholm, Sweden.

Sarah Singh | Official Website

© Sarah Singh

 © sarah singh

Sarah Singh has been on the path to fame for the past ten years, and her work is a testament to that dedication and creativity. Exhibited in capital cities worldwide from NYC to Tokyo, her illustrations have accompanied powerhouses from Givenchy to Shu Uemura, magazines from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to Marie Clare  – to name only a select few from an extensive list of illustrious clientèle. (You may have noticed Singh’s illustrations recently fronting VOGUE’s ‘What Price Glory?’ Lynn Yaeger’s Adventures in Discount Shopping? Thank you, Facebook…) I love getting an insight into how an artist works, and who better to make this introduction than the lovely Singh herself…

Artist Intro: Sarah Singh for H&M

Her work utilises an impressionistic blend of sharp inked lines,  loose watercolour and dashes of vivid colour; her subjects mixed up in overlaid images and textual font. There’s something to be said for her characteristic mixture of typography and portraiture – it’s a beautiful blend of prints, form and colour. It’s this combination of detailed style and wistful rendering that brought Singh’s illustrations into commission from Sterling Publishers early last year, who picked up on her beautiful watercolour, pen and ink combos to grace the covers of their Splinter’s Classics line.  “…[W]orking with the books, the whole concept was to have the covers have a feeling of the clothing, and to capture the fabrics and details of the period” (Singh, Interview with Elle Magazine) and her covers for the Classic’s line has meshed to a gorgeous outcome with her fashion background.

I find the body endlessly intriguing. Drawing is a kind of stenography describing it. It’s faster than painting, but still tells a story. – Singh, for Brooklyn Public Library

Spot the drooling English Lit. student…

 © Sterling Publishers
Billowing dress in a light, wistful watercolour that captures the longing in Jane Eyre.
 © sarah singh
Empty landscape overlaid with navy figures – a dark Heathcliff and wandering Cathy.

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Check out her online portfolio for some beautiful fashion prints and illustrations – and as always, hit me up with any artists whose work can spend my afternoon lusting after!

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Statement Shoes: China

razz china shoes

It has to be in for when?!

When I came back from China last summer and got a plea for the editors of Razz My Berries to submit something for their summer edition ‘Style and Drift’, I hadn’t picked up a 2B pencil, let alone a paintbrush for about two years. Still, I knew I wanted to draw something. But I was also terrified that two years of artistic hibernation would have killed all my paint-soaked brain cells. The article was written. The equipment was hauled out dusty and mouldering from my cupboard. I had a blank page in front of me, and I had to do something with it.

Razz Shoe 2 Cycling Beijing paint edit
Razz Shoe 3 - Great Wall paint edit

Razz Shoe 1 - Emei Mountain 3099m Paint edit

And OK, so it’s not some of my best work; I was clearly out of practice and evidently, I hadn’t worked up the knowledge of post-editing (which the wonderful digital age has provided us with) quite yet. Those lines were dragged out, kicking and screaming, by the stress of a looming deadline. But as a rough and ready, quick blast illustration of some genuine fashion articles from the streets, mountains and walls of China? I’m fairly pleased, actually! To top it all off, the magazine gave me the OK and took my work off to be formatted and edited.

Clearly the ability to draw doesn’t die, it just sleeps quietly for a little while, and is, understandably, cranky when you wake it.

Don’t let your creativity hibernate.

Get in there and poke it with a stick.

I promise the results will be interesting, if nothing else.

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(I hope the bemused ladies who let me photograph their scandalous shoes are proud too.)

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Article written for Razz My Berries Magazine |Issue 12. Words and illustrations my own.

Fashion (+) Illustration (=) Bliss

There’s something wonderfully paradoxical about fashion illustration as the endpoint of an artistic process. Clothing of the fashion circuit has it’s genesis in the same  medium as the conclusion of these’s artist’s works; for these artists, the illustration is the piece. Hana Müller and Sabine Pieper’s illustations both capitalise upon and play with their relation to the fashion development process; Pieper’s in her use of material like swatches on a designer’s board, Müller’s in her focus on a character creation that harkens back to the good old process of branding.

The Seductive Monochrome:

You may know her better from her online presence as Myltan from days of old, but Swedish fashion illustrator Hanna Müller is moving up into the big corporate world of art and exhibiting from 11 May – 14 July 2012 at Fashion Space Gallery, London College of Fashion. Working in aquarelle and ink (and always by hand) her smooth lined illustrations are simplistically and rather stunningly, beautiful. Granted, it helps that her subjects are model-esque figures clothed in a style blatantly aiming for high-fashion, but her soft, muted-tone shading and barely-there use of colour strikes a cool and sophisticated balance in her work.

Stalk @ http://loudmajor.com/myltan/

The Colour Explosion:

Sabine Pieper, also exhibiting this May with Müller, works in fashion and illustration from Berlin, and her mixed media creations are a sensual experience to kill for. Abstract and leaning heavily onto the art side of illustration, her work is an eclectic haven of rich colours, fabric, thread, and photographic manipulation. Her Vlisco ‘Delicate Shades’ campaign, 2011 [read more about it from her interview] showcases the exceptional innovation of her work and having established herself in commercial world, as well as making the foray into print, Pieper is moving swiftly up on the illustration circuit.

Stalk @ http://sabinepieper.com/

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What a beauty to behold… Ladies and gentlemen: paint me green, I’m dying of creative jealousy. x

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Taiwan: Sushi Gone Wild

 

 

Sushi. And what’s going on in my head, when I’m eating sushi.

I really like sushi.

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Taiwan: Super Shopping Experiences

carreforeIf you’ve never been at a Carrefour (家樂福), let me tell you now: you have not lived. Everything you know about Tesco’s being the king for super-sized convenience stores has been a lie. Carrefour is the Momma of all supermarkets… It’s a huge, four-floor amalgamation of shops in one enormous chain store containing everything you’d ever need in life, and more of what you wouldn’t ever – all interlinked by those amusing flat escaltors that you get at airports, at a slow incline between floors, where long lines of Taiwanese people (plus me) stand very, very still.

By contrast, the grocery area is noisy, packed – a battle of shopping carts and promotional people, calling out at the end of every stall and aisle offering tasters of things on that aisle: from dried peaches to taro bread, mango sorbet Haagen Daaz to milk in little hamster sized cups. (Silly woman, I know what milk tastes like… although Taiwanese milk is usually of the powdered and reconstituted variety, its thinner, sweeter and less creamy. Not like the fortifying Northern Irish milk I’m used to… T^T). It makes for an exciting shopping experience.

The highlight is, after a sometimes stressful, yet always satisfying shopping experience, I never fail to leave without the Carrefore jingle in my head – its there for hours afterwards. And the strangest part is, I really like it… Da dum dum da da dum dum da-da dum! (I like to shop at Carrefour ev-ery day) Sure, some would say I’m being brain-washed by the clever advertising campaign of a French supermarket mogul. But I just really like to go to Carrefour every day…

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Taiwan: Mini Fruit Explosions

Mini mangos: so cute my brain’s exploding.

A pleasant sufficiency every time… Bliss.

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Taiwan: Mechanical Pencil Murders

questions

“妹妹, 你是哪國人? 你是混血兒嗎? 她是混血兒吧…” 

“Miss where are you from? Are you mixed? Surely she’s mixed…”

AHHHHHH. ONE MILLION TIMES A DAY.

I’d like to say that I’m fairly tolerant , but I’m afraid the next person gets a stabbin’ from my Taiwanese mechanical pencil.

The English translation for the Chinese above is provided my me and not the internet. The Chinese is not, as Google Translate would tells us: “Sister, are you from? You are mixed blood? She is a half-breed it …”

For goodness sake. This is why they tell you not to use it for your GCSEs.

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