WORDS & MAKEUP DIRECTION BY EMILIE LOUIZIDES USING MDMflow
When Covid-19 initially took hold and the UK went into lockdown in March, it became clear that our lives were going to change significantly. Fear of the pandemic and the strict rules that followed left many feeling helpless and lonely. While we were literally and figuratively isolated, most creatives were going through the same thing. We all had to make adjustments in our lives, and for makeup artists like myself that meant that working on the faces of clients was out of the question due to social distancing guidelines. My professional and personal life merged when I chose to bring my job into a virtual space and teach people how to do their makeup from the comfort and safety of my own dining table. Photographers had the option to shoot from their own homes as well, but through their phone and webcams over FaceTime calls. Some argued that was better than nothing while others described it as unnatural and even gimmicky. The stopgap measure to keep going proved that working virtually had its limits; with most makeup artists completely removed from the photoshoot equation and photographers frustrated and dissatisfied with not being in the room with their subjects, there had to be a better option.
I sat down with photographers Alison Awtrey Graham, Lynn Hayleigh Nwosu, Pepo Fernandez, Cinsy Tam, and Otto Masters over individual FaceTime calls. Together, we spoke about their favorite things and what moves them, which served as the inspiration for makeup looks unique to each of them. The final results are five self-portraits. The planning of this shoot was akin to a normal project which felt comfortable and familiar. However, we were simultaneously stepping out of our comfort zones; I relinquished control by directing the makeup rather than applying it myself and the photographers were faced with the challenge of working with makeup (some for the first time) and taking their own photo instead of a model’s. Working in this particular way has allowed me to not only feel included in the process again but to also tap back into the more creative side of makeup. It’s given these photographers the opportunity to shoot in person, albeit in a different way than they’re used to. Now with the UK in its second lockdown, it’s clear that Covid-19 has forced us to come up with new alternatives. While many of these adaptations are temporary, there might be wisdom in integrating some of these methods into a future post-pandemic world.
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ALISON AWTREY GRAHAM, NEW JERSEY/ NEW YORK USA
After completing Alison's makeup, inspired by Matisse's Joie de Vivre, Alison randomly opened to a book with the same painting on one side and this quote on the other: "What we acquire consciously allows us to express ourselves unconsciously within a certain depth. And the artist's unconscious is made up by everything he sees and expresses pictorially without thinking about it." These words coincidentally mirror our experience, which was driven by the colors and lines in this painting.
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LYNN HAYLEIGH NWOSU, LONDON, UK
Lynn shared her favorite colors - green and brown - and her latest obsessions - going to new parks, girls, colored eyebrows, and the idea of love. She's been listening to an artist called Tirzah on repeat. I watched Tirzah's music videos, visualized Lynn walking through a park, and considered her reference images, including a weeping willow tree and Frank Ocean's Blonde album artwork. All of this informed her makeup look.
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PEPO FERNANDEZ, SANITAGO, CHILE
Pepo was drawn to clown and theatrical makeup and characterization when brainstorming for this shoot, saying he wasn't afraid to go all the way and be comical about it. He was also inclined to play with identity and an externalization of the idea of self. What resulted was a fully finger-painted face of color-blocked clown makeup. Pepo completed the look with a clown outfit, which he bought while on vacation in Mexico.
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CINSY TAM, LONDON, UK
Cinsy describes herself as direct, confident, and passionate. She's a self-proclaimed princess who leans toward satire, loves the color pink, and loads of plants. Older ladies, nans in particular, who embrace a chic essence also served as a reference point for Cinsy’s makeup, accessories and styling, and set design. With an intention to stand out and be bold while also looking pretty and put together, Cinsy had 89-year-old supermodel Carmen Dell'Orefice in mind as we created her dreamy, playful makeup look.
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OTTO MASTERS, LONDON, UK
A British-born, German-South African photographer, Otto grew up surrounded by nature and lived in many places, including Madrid, Washington, DC, and Wales. He loves Japanese design and aesthetics, dark romantic historical themes, with a particular interest in medieval times gone by, sad songs, and eggs. This unique perspective generated a more-is-more style with bold strokes reminiscent of some of Otto's current favorite artwork, such as Wilhelm Sasnal's Sasnal Forest and Edward Hopper's Soir Bleu.
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