Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Being a part of something bigger: Taking a stand with my art

Why are you here, on this earth? I’m genuinely asking you to pause for a moment to consider. What’s important to you, what do you stand for? How do you express that? What are you going to say with your life?

Helping people, pragmatism, and self expression are important to me. I stand for the spirit of giving, and for people overcoming their obstacles. I’m excited by colors, sparkles, and clean line work. I want people to know they are capable of creating a life they love, and it’s my mission to experience this life to its utmost capacity.

My art is one of the best tools I have to get people to really hear my ideas (aside from showing some skin...people tune into that quickly too). Body painting is bright, unusual enough for a second look, and so alive that it craves interaction.

When the Desnudas hit the news, Dani was very vocal with me about her opinion of the whole thing. Body paint in the media, and it gets portrayed like THAT?! I knew I was dissatisfied with the mixing of the art form I love and cherish with the “cause celebre” of public nudity. We vented about it to each other at length. The masses don’t get how beautiful, colorful, detailed, and magical this art form can be...they just see boobs in paint plastered all over the news stories. What the Desnudas do it fine. It’s valid, it serves a purpose...But what they do is not what we do. They make tourists stop and stare; We make art. I wanted people to know the wonders that body paint can be outside of this gimmicky nudity conversation.

Dani decided to coordinate a team of colleagues to create an installation of body paintings in Times Square, using incredible artistry to bring a positive spin to body art. The project would be called Art Transcends: Changing the Conversation about Art in NYC. Our goal was to create art what would “transcend nudity, gimmicks, and politics.” When Dani asked me to be on the lead crew of painters, I was quite tickled at the invitation. And also nervous, because she was asking artists with far more fame than I have. Athena Zhe, Yvonne MacInnis, Kyle Harder, and Suzanne Winwood would all be on the team. As the days neared, and things with the project started to go wrong, my nerves became increasingly palpable. It would have been really convenient to be “sick” the day of the project...which totally crossed my mind. But I knew I’d be there, because that’s what I was committed to - standing for my art form.
I hoped to make some great art, especially because I didn’t want to flop in front of peer artists...but great art was only a fraction of the project. The point was the tell a story, add our voice to the conversation, make people stop and see something in a way they hadn’t seen it before.

And it truth, I didn’t love the art I did that day. But oh my goodness, I loved the people. I loved the spirit in the room while we were prepping our models. I loved the Christian woman that came up to Dani and expressed her disapproval of public nudity, but said our project was great and no one would notice the nudity anyway. I loved the raucous approval on social media, the storm of likes and commentary debate that came through. I love that Michael Devellis from The Powder Group was so blown away by our project that he chose to share it with his makeup community via an article in On Makeup Magazine. We definitely had people talking, and finally about something other than painted ta-ta’s. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! #ArtTranscends!

This project and it’s message was so much bigger than me. My minor existential issue was a mere footnote of that day. And at the end of it, I’m so glad I let it be a fleeting thought instead of a meltdown. My b.s. was so petty in comparison to the things we created that day. I was about to hold “not looking bad” as a higher priority than our mission. Instead I checked my commitment, and remembered I had something to say that needed to be heard.
Stand for what you believe in,

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The "healthy busy person" is not a mythical creature

As we embark on yet another fashion week, where some of us beauty art professionals run ourselves ragged, I find myself inspired by the BoA Lp 3 team (aka Heart 2 Heart) who have made it their mission to inspire others to be aware and take actionable steps to improve their health and wellness.  This is a focus out project they have been creating for the past month and it has certainly got me thinking. I for one have had fashion week seasons where at the end I feel like the bottom of someone's shoe (after walking through Canal Street on a slushy winter day), and some seasons where I feel like I could go for round two. What is the difference you may ask? When I put concerted effort toward keeping atop my wellness during a busy time, the hangover most of us experience is significantly less treacherous.  

We have the excuse that we are "too busy" to be healthy and take care of ourselves. Only problem is that a repeat performance of this excuse and the ignorance it comes from can cause irreversible damage on our bodies as we get older. The kind of damage that had we known while we were doing it we'd give anything to go back and do it differently.

So in this article I'd like to share some tips to staying healthy and being centered while we have an insanely busy schedule.

1. BE a healthy person, do not "try" to be one.

Creating the mindset that will get you through a crazy few weeks is the essential foundation to feeling good. Without grounding yourself in being a person who is healthy and makes healthy choices, all the rest quite frankly doesn't mean shit. If you think you will only be healthy when you're eating more greens and exercise more, well there's a back door to sneak out of if I've ever heard one. How about coming from a place that you are healthy NOW, therefore the choices you make continue to support the healthy being you are. Like those bracelets that say "What would Jesus do?".... Well change that to "what would a healthy person do?" .... When they open the fridge... When they look at a craft service table... When they go for drinks after a show instead of getting extra rest...when they choose to smoke that cigarette or chew some gum etc.

2. Water is life. *Drops the mic*

Ugh! I am the worst water drinker but when I get into a habit of drinking it incessantly, especially when I'm busy, I notice a difference in my energy, my skin, my joints, my digestion...everything. It's vitally important to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day otherwise you risk being more tired than you would be if you were hydrated. Being tired from the day before carries into the next day and domino effect to the final day of fashion week when you want to just fall through your ass right where you stand. Good thing is most all craft services provide you with water. In fact the very first thing you should do when you wake up is have one glass of water. I know I know! For most of you your brain is saying 'coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee'. But while you are waiting for that coffee to brew you could be drinking a nice cold 8oz glass of water. Remember, coffee dehydrates you. So where you think in the middle of the day your 5th cup of coffee is going to get you through, it's not only a temporary rush but makes you more tired by the end of the day because you are dehydrating yourself. So make a conscious decision to replace coffee with water. You can take some vitamin B 12 via drops, pills, gummies, or chewables. This will give you a burst of energy without all the side effects and is longer lasting. In fact if you make it a habit to drink a glass of water before every meal and a glass of water midway between every meal, one when you wake up, and one before you go to bed you're only one cup away from the daily suggested intake. Unless you are a heavy coffee drinker, which means you may need to take in one glass of water per every cup of coffee you drink. Just try it... Even as an experiment...

3. But they only have bagels and donuts at the craft service table...

Yes I know. Being gluten intolerant has made me vastly aware of how inconsiderate people can be when deciding what to serve the hard-working people backstage. I for one am lucky that because of my allergy I cannot eat some of the stuff backstage.Yes, I said lucky. If they have fruit or yogurt I go for that.. If they have sandwiches I usually need to pull out the middle and eat that. Being forced to not eat all the carbs has definitely helped my energy levels. Those of you who do not have an allergy may also want to consider the intake of carbs throughout the day and how much energy your body takes to break it down and process it. I've also noticed other artists bringing little bags of healthy snacks in their bags to sustain them like almonds or cranberries or power bars. This of course is not sufficient meal replacement but may stop you from visiting the craft table 10 times. Also anytime you have the opportunity to eat green food, veggies or fruit... do it! Your digestive system needs these types of food to cleanse and filter out the toxins in your body. Toxins that remain in your body not only make you more tired but will affect your thinking and create a sort of fog that has you be less alert. 

So I hate to say it, but stop being lazy - think a couple of steps ahead. Prepack some small sustainable snacks, and do your best to make the best healthy choices backstage. 

4. Kick and streeeeeetch, and rub rub rub

Now that we've taken care of the inside of your body it is also important to take care of the outside of your body. Carrying a kit up and down and up and down and up and down stairs not only stiffens your joints but creates lactic acid in your muscles which if not stretched or rubbed properly will turn into an underground city of knots in your shoulders and legs. Just like exercise you need to take time every day to stretch every muscle that your utilized throughout the day. Sometimes you are bending over models, sometimes the arm you hold your brushes with is constantly being in use. These are the aches and pains you get when the week is over because you did not do your due diligence to stretch out those muscles or rub the forming knots. Put into practice doing a short stretch series when you wake up maybe even in the shower, one in the middle of the day, and definitely one before you go to bed. Rub down your legs with some lotion to keep the blood flowing and release the lactic acid that will become stasis if not treated. Put some warm wet towels on your shoulders to loosen up the muscles or take a hot bath (preferably with Epsom salts and/or lavender bubbles). This will loosen and treat your muscles so you can rub them easier. This will also help to minimize your stress levels.

5. To party or not to party, that is the question...

Yes I know fashion week has the most fabulous parties that we all love to go to to see who's-the-whatsits designer or celebrity, and meet all the amazing people you can network with. Trust me I know what it's like to balance working hard and partying hard. But in truth that's not really balance because when you party hard on top of working hard your body suffers. In our 20s and early 30s this is a little bit easier to recover from. But in our late 30s and 40s The rubber band doesn't snap back it just breaks. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about taking opportunities to have some fun and meet some amazing people, but this doesn't have to be every single night and definitely not on a night that I have to be at a show at 6 AM in the morning. You also don't need to drink or stay as long, but that's up to you. I say take a look at your whole fashion week or busy schedule and pinpoint the gaps that makes sense where going out and have an epic time won't annihilate you. I know the hardest thing to do is in the moment when someone says 'hey what are you doing tonight ? Let's go to this party' which you know will consist of you staying out later than you should and drinking tons of alcohol, getting hardly any sleep and essentially making you feel like crap the next day. If you're in a place where you're having the 'fuck it's' and you can responsibly will deal with the consequences then go for it! But if your vision for yourself is to be healthy and feel better at the end of the day then it's OK to say no. There will be other parties darling!

6. Give yourself time to de-stress.

Your mental and emotional well being need as much care as your physical well being. If you are overwhelmed with your schedule take 5 minutes to ground yourself and create intentions for the day. You are a superhero for sure, but not the kind that can defy the laws of gravity and circumvent the time/space continuum (at least not while you are awake). So be kind to yourself and do the best you can possibly do with the 24 hours you have. Make sure to give yourself time to unwind, shut your phone off when you get home, let your mind rest. Write down things you need to do on paper so you don't have to keep them in your head. Even be mindful of what you feed your brain ie: the magazines/books/newspapers you read, the TV shows/movies you watch, the conversations you have. Subject matter with high intense energy or negative content has the capacity to drain you more rather that let you rest. We are very attuned to the energy around us, so only pick up what you want to keep with you during this very busy time.

All in all my friends, changing habits does not happen overnight. It starts with awareness, commitment to change, and a vision of how you get to feel and be. We as makeup artists in NYC can get very busy. Often we suffer from things like fatigue, stress, ulcers, high blood pressure, varicose veins, migraines, bad skin, achy joints and a myriad of other things. As we get older these things turn into conditions that are difficult to reverse. Start now and take one step at a time to take care of yourselves. Remember there is only one you. We cannot get another one from the store if you break. Also there are so many more things in our lives we get to focus our attention on. Why waste the time on being sick or inhibited by an ailment? After all, our health is the foundation upon which we function. Be grateful you have it, and do what you can to take care of it. If you don't, who will?