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Because of the painting, I’m able to see the face and just kind of remove the fact that it’s a face. It’s a canvas. You can do anything with makeup. - viktorija bowers
Pro Only AccessOctober 1, 2013
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BACKSTAGE WITH MAKE UP FOR EVER PRO
ARTIST COLLABORATION: VIKTORIJA BOWERS
A Glimpse Inside the Amazing Mural Created Using AQUA XL Eye Pencils
For the recent MAKE UP FOR EVER PR event that launched our new AQUA XL Eye Pencils to the Editorial community, we partnered with the incredible makeup artist Viktorija Bowers to ensure our PRO heritage would be infused in the event. We asked Viktorija, who is also an amazing painter, create a wall-sized mural for the festival-inspired launch that captures the vibrant, waterproof, energetic qualities of AQUA XL – AND create the painting using the AQUA XL Eye Pencils instead of paint!
The mural was 7 by 10 feet and took Viktorija 11 hours to complete – just in time for the party announcing our collaboration with Charli XCX. As a painter and makeup artist known for her beautiful and unique style, and one of our 30/30 artists who has known and loved MAKE UP FOR EVER throughout her career, Viktorija was the perfect artist to create this incredibly special visual, and we were all blown away by the life and care she put into this collaboration. We spoke with her in our NYC Pro Studio to find out more about how she created and executed her stunning masterpiece with AQUA XL Eye Pencils.
Check out the Hyperlapse video of Viktorija painting the Mural HERE!
TELL US ABOUT THE PROJECT!
VB: The good thing about this particular project is I was able to bring this vibrancy because the MAKE UP FOR EVER product allowed me to do so. It would be very much of an “Oh [no]!” moment if I had product that was not as vibrant and it was mudded down. But, that’s why MAKE UP FOR EVER rocks. The way I see this painting is actually an homage to Dany really. I was here the last couple of months and I listened to her talk about her beginnings, and she was painting in art school and her theater experience and everything... however they came out with the concept of actually doing a mural I think is such a brilliant idea, and I’ve never seen it before done by a makeup company. But also, it is the most appropriate for a company as MAKE UP FOR EVER because I see this mural as a song to Dany, and it’s a full circle moment; it has tribal markings that is a reference to Dany’s Tribe. [The girl in the mural] is definitely a part of Dany’s Tribe and it’s definitely her spirit of the company.
TELL US ABOUT COLLABORATING WITH MAKE UP FOR EVER?
VB: It was amazing, it was incredible. I poured my heart into it for so many reasons and one of them being that MAKE UP FOR EVER was always there for me.
This opportunity was given, of all people, to me. I had to handle it with such care and love. When somebody trusts in you, you have to honor that trust: you have your reputation in hand and you have their reputation. That’s something that I cherish. Every time I come see you guys, I feel at home, from the original OG crew to now. It’s an honor and definitely a song for Dany. My original working title for her [because of everything I’ve been going through] was ‘Let Go, and You Shall Blossom’ but I think the ‘Song for Dany’ is definitely more appropriate now.
WHAT WAS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
VB: The pencils just were gorgeous. So what we did was we had to really brainstorm. We put lots of work into this painting before. My husband is a very big part of it as well. We’re like a collective: Michael and Viktorija. He’s actually the one who started the whole madness by giving me a set of brushes for my birthday 15 years ago. He paints as well so we bounce off each other. He was there cutting the pencils and being an extra eye saying, “this needs a little more shadow or step back and look at this.” It’s such an amazing sounding board for me. And again, we were preparing very hard for this. Because people think, be spontaneous, and yes the spontaneity happens when you know what you’re doing. … That does not mean you are less of an artist if you put your mind where your heart is, and that’s exactly what we did.
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS PROCESS FOR YOU, AS AN ARTIST?
VB: You have to prepare yourself, that’s the thing where people think, oh you just let go—No, no, no, no, no. The real artists take a lot of preparation and practice. I always say to my assistants and stuff, “In order to break the rules, you have to know them.” You need to know the rules. I think when you’re well prepared, and you’re knowledgeable, when you know what materials your working with, that’s when you let go because everything flows and that’s when we were creating this mural.
Everything is thought out: how the pencils are acting, I practiced on the vinyl beforehand. I did a million sketches of it. I did million color combinations of it. And then found the right combination of colors.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE “PAINTING” WITH THE AQUA XL PENCILS? HOW DID YOU DO IT?
VB: The pencils themselves are so soft, it’s literally one stroke and they melt… So my husband has devised a plan, he cuts the end of the pencils with an X-acto knife and he has bought this wooden rod from Home Depot, and he pushes the pencil pigment right onto my palette. So it’s like these long strands. Then, I squash it with the brushes and I use a combination of brushes and my finger as well. So that definitely made it faster.
The majority of the thing is the pencil but I do have to give homage to the cast of the body cream and the Flash Palette, of course. You can’t go without the Flash Palette. I was interviewed once [they asked] what would you bring if you were at a deserted island. I said, “The Flash Palette, of course! You can make anything with it.” So that’s how we did it.
DID YOU USE ANY KIND OF MEDIUM TO ACTIVATE THE PENCILS? HOW DID YOU CREATE THE WATERCOLOR EFFECT?
VB: The only thing that [water] activated it is, if you see the drips, those are the body paints. I used them as water color. So, for example, the butterfly, the first layer is all body cream. What I did was I mixed the body creams to emulate one of the pencils, to get it exactly the right color of the pencils. So we did yellow, green, a touch of blue and white and made it look like the pencil. And what you do is you kind of like layer them and they drip and then they fall and dry and then you do another layer, because up close … it looked like water color. Then, you take the pencil and you start layering it as well … it’s almost like motions with the hand, just dragging it down to create that water color effect. Just layer, upon layer, upon layer, upon layer and then I take a makeup wipe and I wipe it down to create holes and staining it.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO EXECUTE SUCH A HUGE PAINTING, ESPECIALLY USING ONLY MAKEUP?
VB: There was no nervousness; there was no stress because we knew what we were doing. I knew I just had to put my earbuds in and let go. It was incredible. I wish I could do it again. I am so eternally grateful. It could have been any painter. There so many creative souls in this city and you guys chose me and that means a lot to me and it came out perfect.
People really seemed to love it; they were photographing it and posting it and stuff. Everybody’s in awe that it’s all makeup. Yep, all makeup, not a stitch of anything else.
AS A MAKEUP ARTIST AND A PAINTER, HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE TWO?
VB: The way I balance it, I would say makeup is my main profession. I’m a makeup artist, after all. Painting is my love, both of them are my love. And you know that’s another incredible thing, that I was able to fuse those two together. Finally it was a perfect marriage. It was always looming, it was always bound to happen, but I think it was a perfect time, perfect project, perfect people. It was just like the universe aligning itself and showing me the way almost. It’s given me clarity into things.
The reason why I picked up painting is so I could view makeup from a different aspect because I’m self-taught, I have no training besides my husband who would say, “Where’s your light source?!” And I would say, “I don’t care!” and he would say, “You have to care!”
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG ARTISTS?
VB: When I really found a voice is when I became myself: when I stopped trying to emulate the style of an artist that I respect… and that is advice I would give to a makeup artist as well, especially a young makeup artist who’s starting. It is wonderful and that’s how we all learn, you will go to a museum and you will see the students sitting in front of the painting sketching it. That’s how you learn. But when you’re truly going to come into your own is when you let go, again: let go and you shall blossom. You let go of trying to be somebody else, let go of trying to please somebody else and just be you.
So when I stopped considering the light source and anatomy and stopped remove the brain from it and just went bat-sh*t crazy is when magic happened and that’s when people reacted most to the paintings… It’s the ones where the color is dripping, and everything’s splashing, she’s crossed tied, her fingers are way too long her neck is not in proportion to her body, it does not matter.
HOW HAS PAINTING AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MAKEUP ARTISTRY?
VB: As much as you love it, and as long as your heart is in it, I think that’s when people connect. So painting definitely also allowed me to see makeup in a different light. Because of the painting, I’m able to see the face and just kind of remove the fact that it’s a face. It’s a canvas. You can do anything with makeup.
HOW DID IT FEEL TO FINISH SUCH A HUGE PROJECT OVER THE COURSE OF ONE DAY?
VB: I’m so glad that I actually ended up finishing the painting. Because they were like, “Oh yeah, you want to leave some.” So I left the butterfly for them to see it done. I think it was more impactful that the painting was almost done ... But this way, they could see the pencil performing and I had a lovely assistant from the academy, Sarah. So we didn’t want to massacre the pencils in front of the audience. [Dramatically] “They died for the art; they were sacrificed to the art gods. May this season be great!”
I’m really kind of sad we did not think about just backing that vinyl with something else before just putting it on that wall, that’s the only thing … It adhered, you could roll yourself in it and it would not come off … I mean you could totally preserve it and you could have it forever.
THE MURAL WAS CREATED SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS ONE NIGHT AND WASN’T PRESERVED – HOW DID IT ADD TO THE EVENT?
VB: It’s like a butterfly, it lived for a night, in its glory and it died away. … You just have to see it in person. Just so huge, and I’ve always wanted to do a huge project living in a small apartment so this was a dream come true.
It definitely added something special to [the event]. Even if it was a different artist – not just because it was me – but it was such a brilliant idea on their part because it really was like the avatar of the event. And Dany was there with us… This was the homage to Dany and MAKE UP FOR EVER Tribe.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT VIKTORIJA BOWERS AND TO VIEW HER WORK, VISIT HER WEBSITE AND FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM @VIKTORIJABOWERS
FOR ALL THINGS MAKE UP FOR EVER, FOLLOW OUR NEW INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT @MAKEUPFOREVERUS
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