UV and Black Light Sugar Skull Designs

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#1 UV Sugar Skull Body Paint by Matt Deifer – http://goo.gl/mcsOEM

Last Week, I discussed my favourite sugar skull makeup designs that feature a range of highly creative and decorative patterns or styles. Over the past few days, I’ve discovered a series of sugar skull designs that are created with ‘ultraviolet / black light responsive makeup and body paint.’ These particular materials do create some spectacular, fluorescent patterns that provide a very artistic depiction of the Mexican Sugar Skulls.

While there is a limited number of UV or black light sugar skull makeup designs online, I’ve discovered at least ten different styles that feature a high level of detail, intricacy and craftsmanship. At first, I struggled to search for some of the artist’s names or websites and I’ve spent a good few hours searching for all the relevant information. It’ll be interesting to see whether the UV sugar skull makeup / body paint becomes a fashionable or popular trend, only time will tell. The black light and UV paint would definitely compliment your next Halloween outfit or celebratory event, you’ll immediately stand out from the crowd.

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#2 UV Sugar Skull Makeup by Krystaltips – http://goo.gl/K9r6Vv

What is Black Light Paint?

Before we get started, I thought I would briefly discuss the concept behind back lights or black light reactive paint. I initially researched UV makeup, although I suddenly discovered the term, ‘backlight’ that did create some confusion to begin with. According to Mark Chervenka, black light is another term or definition for ultraviolet light that is “invisible to the human eye.” However, the black light converts the fluorescent source into a “visible light” that features a different “wave length” compared to the lamps / electrical equipment within our households, as referenced by Chervenka.1

The black light is used for a range of creative or artistic purposes that does produce some fantastic results within a dark environment. David Cay Johnston from the new York Times explains that Joseph and Robert Switzer invented the visible, ‘fluorescent paint’ that is commonly known as Day-Glow. Robert Switzer severely injured his left eye, while he continued to unload packaged goods and he was confined to a dark space; this inspired the young chemistry student to experiment or research UV lighting.

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#3 Hybrid Black Light Sugar Skull by DRE Images – http://goo.gl/0U7sP5

According to Johnston’s article, the paint was used for the ‘warplanes’ during the Second World War that enabled the troops to “operate at night from aircraft carriers in the pacific.” The armed forces used ‘bright panels’ in North Africa in order to highlight their goodwill or friendliness to “Allied Dive Bombers.”2

David Johnston suggests, “ultraviolet light goes in and its energy is converted into visible light emitted by the chemicals in the paint, creating the bright fluorescent quality.”3 The technical procedures and the back story is fascinating; the black light paint is now used for many artistic, creative and inspiring projects including the bright and colourful sugar skull designs.

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#3 UV Sugar Skull Makeup by Agnieszka Grzelak – http://goo.gl/clKG0V

Black Light Photography

I’ve recognised many photographs that display black light or UV lighting and I began to research the actual process or equipment used in order to create these particular effects. Don Krajewski from the XOIND Studios recommends using a ‘black light’ in order to highlight the intended ‘subject’ as well as a particular material that will react to the black light. Krajewski also suggests experimenting with the manual camera settings including the exposure, ISO and lighting as well as the distance in order to achieve an artistic or stylised effect.

Krajewski’s article features some very useful suggestions or recommendations that’s definitely worth viewing if you are interested in UV / black light photography. WARNING: If you wish to experiment with this particular lighting, just be careful with the type of lights you are using, as there are certain sources who claim that UV Lighting / black lights can burn the skin, cause cataracts and radiation. Krajewski suggests UV-A lights for photography and this particular light source is often used for clubs or other specific environments; overall the article does provide some very knowledgable advice, it’s just something to keep in mind anyway.4

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#4 Whispering Ghost, Blacklight Makeup by Lotoff – https://500px.com/Lotoff

Black Light: Conclusion

The black light paint and the dark background does provide a very dramatic effect that intensifies the overall style. From a personal perspective, the UV makeup significantly highlights the vibrant sugar skull designs as well as the fine, intricate detail. Lindsay Adler suggests that people may associate black light photography to a ‘party or a rave’ and there are certain elements including motion or movement that can create a level of interest and spontaneity. If the idea is executed in an artistic or creative manner, the image can feature some outstanding effects, although the UV lighting often isolates the main subject, it just depends on the intended meaning or style.5

I began to question whether the UV sugar skulls establish a closer association to death? I personally believe that the vibrant patterns and the dark background provides a very interesting composition between life and death. The decorative designs aestheticize the concept of death and the skull becomes a subject of beauty. This is such an interesting area of discussion that I’ll investigate over the next few weeks.

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#5 UV Backlight Sugar Skull by Pieke Roelofs – http://photoandgrime.com/

Since I’ve explore the sugar skulls, the black light paint / makeup has become an area of fascination that has provide a level of inspiration. While, I’ve focused upon the history and the overall process, it’ll be really interesting to continue researching this particular subject. Here are some other designs or photographs I have discovered; this is all for now, although I shall return shortly, goodbye for now.

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#6 Brittany Couture – http://goo.gl/Tt5kHs

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#7 Duende ‘rfs – https://www.facebook.com/duenderfs

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#8 Black Light Sugar Skull Makeup by Katie Alves – http://goo.gl/zxcMdD

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#9 Lucy Chippindale – http://goo.gl/SVsj5L

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#10 TiffyQuake – http://goo.gl/IAZ89I

References

1.Chervenka, Mark, Black Light Book (Pittsburgh: The Black Light Book, 2007) p.8 – 13
2.David Cay Johnston, “Robert Switzer, Co-Inventor Of Day-Glo Paint, Dies at 83,” Aug 29, 1997, The New York Times, 2015 (Accessed 18/2/15) http://goo.gl/HWySdw

3.Johnston, “Robert Switzer, Co-Inventor Of Day-Glo Paint, Dies at 83”
4.Don Krajewski, XOIND Studio Blog, “UV or Black Light Photography,” Mar 17, 2012, WordPress Blog (Accessed 18/2/15) http://goo.gl/D4aSN7
5.Adler, Lindsay, Creative 52: Weekly Projects to Invigorate Your Photography Portfolio (San Fransisco: Peachpit Press, 2014) p.77


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