Tag Archives: Death

Blogging 101: Introduction to Craniophiles and New Explorations

skullsex
Image Citation: Spoilheap Archaeology

You’re properly wondering, what is today’s agenda? I’m glad you are here, as I have another fascinating subject to share and reflect that’ll hopefully ease your curious minds! As part of the blogging 101 course, today’s assignment involves exploring a particular comment that I’ve written for a fascinating or intriguing blog post.

As you may have guessed by now, I have a curiosity for skulls and I’ve recently followed an interesting blog known as Craniophiles that presents the cultural, artistic and historical explorations of the human skull. If you are a dedicated skull enthusiast, you’ll absolutely love reading this blog, trust me! Don’t forget to check out the link below,

https://craniophiles.wordpress.com

Differences between male and female skulls

Craniophiles have released an engaging post that distinguishes the differences between the male and the female skull. These distinctive elements identifies the gender including the teeth, jaw line and eye sockets. According to Craniophiles, the male skull features a sharp, defined jawline and brow bridge in comparison to the female skull that presents a circular structure or definition including the eye sockets.1

The post inspired me to undertake some further research through the Internet in order to understand the differences. According to Nital Jain, the female skull does feature a circular or round forehead, while the male skull predominately features wider cheekbones, a defined brow line and a prominent “nasal spine.”2 So where do we go from here?

Latest observations

The article posted by Craniophiles invited me to consider whether the skull or the subject of death is depicted in the male or the female form? Throughout the years, I’ve discovered masculine representations of the skull as black and white t-shirt designs or merchandise, however there are colourful and feminine sugar skull designs within the contemporary culture. I’ve wondered whether there is an artist who has considered drawing a distinctive male or female skull? This is an interesting question that I’ll need to examine further, don’t worry I will return with the answer!

These are two examples anyway, as there are plenty of other depictions of death and the human skull across different cultures. In regards to my recent observations, the European and Mexican representations of the skull appear to be significantly popular within the contemporary sphere. According to, María Herrera-Sobek, the Grim Reaper is often portrayed as a masculine figure within America and Europe, while Mexico features La Santa Muerte, who is recognised as the “Saint of Death” that features feminine characteristics.3

Revisiting previous explorations

Are you curious to discover an interesting fact? About three to four months ago, I started writing a blog post exploring male and female skull makeup designs in order to identify whether the interpretation of death varies depending on the person’s gender. There were some interesting arguments relating to this particular subject and I definitely required additional time time to digest all of the information.

I’ll have to return to the post and complete the blog post once and for all. Discovering new articles or posts can provide new ideas and perspectives that inspire me to explore new elements or revisit old territories. Now you’ve reached the end but the journey doesn’t end here, I shall return with another fascinating post in the next few days.

References

1. Craniofiles, “How to Put a Name to a Face, Part 2 Gender,” https://craniophiles.wordpress.com/page/3/ (Accessed 17/7/15)
2. Nitul Jain, Textbook of Forensic Odontology (Bangladesh: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers Ltd, 2013) p.20
3. María Herrera-Sobek, Celebrating Latino Folklore: An Encyclopaedia of Cultural Traditions, Volume 1 (California: ABC-CLIO, 2012) p.666  


Day Four, Blogging 101: Identify your Audience, Exploring New Elements

DSC_2293

This particular assignment encouraged me to examine the audience, demographic and the readers who may visit the blog. This is a very interesting exercise that involves writing for an intended audience or reader in mind, although I dedicated two days to brainstorming in order to determine, who is reading Black Calavera?

While I don’t have a particular person in mind, I hope to share the research I’ve undertaken over the past few years with the outside world. Now that I’ve switched to my focused state of mind, I would imagine the ideal reader as a skull enthusiast or an artist with a strong interest for skulls.

The second component involves introducing a new element to the blog and I wondered whether there is something new I can possibly explore that is different to what I’m familiar or comfortable with. I was intrigued to explore illustration or drawing that is something that I haven’t practised for about a year now. For two whole days, I sat beneath the heater with a pencil and an old sketch book that was recently discovered in the bottom of a cardboard box; this basically summaries the length of time I haven’t practised my sketching.

With two to three attempts, a sugar skull illustration was finally created! I can be rather picky, although the objective of the exercise involved experimenting with a different medium and the test determined that I can push beyond my comfort zone.  With additional practise and persistence, the sugar skull illustrations will improve over time. This is the starting point anyway and the sketchbook will hopefully provide new ideas for upcoming projects.

Why Sugar Skulls?

The designs are incredibly inspiring and there is a fascinating cultural association with the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival that is unbelievably admirable and highly creative. For those who are unfamiliar with the Day of the Dead, this vibrant celebration welcomes the spirits from deceased friends and relatives through decorative altars, sugar skulls and other creative events, as referenced by Regina.M.Marchi.1

The sugar skulls are highly colourful, although I’m intrigued to explore the decorative designs in black and white. Another fascinating subject, is the interpretation of death and how would one describe this ambiguous subject? This is something I’ve questioned over and over again, although death is one of those mysterious occurrences that is a natural process of life, although the thought is relatively daunting at times.

I’ve actually awakened from a good night’s rest and realised that I perceive the world through my own point of view and one day that’ll eventually disappear, when death approaches. This is actually difficult to explain, although I experienced a sudden wave of anxiety when I realised that there is an ending, there are some things in life that are unavoidable and death is one of them.

So where do we go from here? Good question, well I would love to explore how others interpret death, perhaps this’ll transform into an exciting new project, you’ll have to wait and see.

Reference

1.Regina.M.Marchi, Day of the Dead USA, The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon (USA:Rutgers University Press) p.26 


Day Three, Blogging 101 Continued: These Top Five Blogs are Absolutely killer!

DSC_0529

I’m back ready to write another post and I would love to share a few of my favourite blogs on WordPress. As you may have guessed by now, I’m participating in the Blogging 101 course that has enabled me to re-evaluate the purpose and the significance behind Black Calavera. This particular exercise for the week involved writing a post in regards to my favourite topics or blogs that is exciting because I thoroughly enjoy browsing through my reader and discovering new posts, articles or reviews. Here they are, starting with number one.

#1 The Year of the Halloween 

If you haven’t visited this blog and you have an interest for horror, remember to check out this site! Eva Halloween is the author of the blog who posts a range of fascinating articles relating to Halloween, horror and paranormal activities. I throughly enjoy reading the makeup tutorials, DIY instructions and costume competitions that are definitely inspiring and creative. At a young age, I developed a fascination for horror and The Year of the Halloween is the perfect match! There are so many different articles to read through and the different subjects are seriously fascinating.

http://theyearofhalloween.com/

#2 Horrorpedia 

There’s nothing I love more than a scary horror film or a cheesy b-grade horror movie. Well lucky for me, there’s Horrorpedia that presents a range of fascinating and entertaining reviews in regards to classic horror films, international blockbusters, and independent cinema. The list doesn’t stop here, Horrorpedia also includes other artistic influences including music, literature and digital media that explore the exciting world of horror. This is a really resourceful site and there are plenty of trailers, interviews and video clips to watch for all of your horror needs.

Plus there’s a section dedicated to the “worst horror movies of all time” with a large selection of the most outrageous z-grade films I’ve ever seen! This is definitely the highlight of Horrorpedia, if you love watching those kind of films that are so bad they’re good, you will absolutely love this section.

http://horrorpedia.com/

#3 Parlour of Horror 

I was immediately intrigued by the Parlour of Horror that features reviews in regards to literature, cinema, art and real life events. My favourite posts are the film reviews relating to classic horror and new releases that I can definitely add these to my list of movies to watch. The site also features some fascinating posts relating to horror art, where I discover artists, photographers and writers who explore dark and sinister subject matter.  There is a great deal of inspiring and engaging information to read through and if you’re interested in horror, I would definitely recommend the Parlour of Horror.

https://parlorofhorror.wordpress.com/

lucky27_cobain

Image One: Fieldey, Día de los muertos zombie Kurt Cobain

#4 Fieldey

Now you’re in for a real treat, as a Fieldey is a contemporary artist who creates the most inspiring skateboard and surfboard designs. They’re colourful, artistic and captivating; the designs feature extraordinary detail and aesthetics that provides me with the urge to browse through the entire collection! Of course, my favourite works are the Day of the Dead designs, if you’re a skull enthusiast you’ll absolutely love Fieldey’s collection of skateboards and surfboards. The site also features commissions, tutorials and a wicked gallery full of inspiring works.

https://fieldey.wordpress.com/

#5 Craniophiles

Last but not least, is Craniophiles that is right up my alley! This marvellous site delivers a series of blog posts that examine the human skull from an artistic, historical and scientific context. As an avid skull enthusiast, I cannot contain my excitement when I discover a blog with reviews and articles relating to the human skull and Craniophiles features a large collection of fascinating posts investigating this particular subject. Have an interest in art or science? No problems, Craniophiles has the information you’ve been searching for!

https://craniophiles.wordpress.com/


Day Two of the Blogging 101 Expedition: What is the Skulls Project?

DSC_0528

The second assignment for the week invited me to contemplate my chosen tagline and the significance behind the blog. So why did I choose the Skulls Project and what is the overall meaning? This is a good question to begin with and this is definitely something I’m currently exploring.

As I mentioned in the previous posts, the blog was initially used as a form of documentation that featured a range of drawings, sketches, observations and research relating to the contemporary representations of the skull. I’m often asked a very fascinating question whenever I mention the purpose behind the blog. In fact I’m regularly asked, why did you choose the skull?

This is a very important piece of the puzzle, why do I spend so much time writing about the skull? In 2012, I realised a growing interest in the Mexican Day of the Dead and the sugar skulls that are prevalent within the local bars, cafes, shops and restaurants across Melbourne. Due to the wealth of information, research and invaluable data, I decided to create a project that involved writing one post per day for an entire year relating to the human skull and it’s relevance to contemporary art.

As a result, the skulls project accumulated a following that was a huge surprise at the time, as the blog was purposely used for documentation. Soon after, the name Black Calavera emerged from many productive brainstorming sessions of course! At this particular stage, I’m currently experimenting with different styles for the brand and the blog.

It doesn’t end here! The project also reflects my personal explorations of life and death that occurred after a near death experience four years ago. This has definitely altered my perspectives regarding the inevitable presence of death and the experiences that life has to offer. The unknown is a mysterious and ambiguous journey that has invited me to repeatedly ask the same question, what happens to us after death?

We all know that death will occur at some stage but how do we come to terms with the idea? The Skulls Project examines some of these particular questions or explorations and the overall process aims to uncover the different interpretations or perspectives relating to the subject of death and the connections to the human skull.


Black Calavera undertakes Blogging 101: Here We Go!

DSC_029411
Hey there everyone!

I’ve recently joined the WordPress blogging 101 tutorials, as a way to connect with other enthusiastic bloggers and readers out there. I’ve been writing for a while now, although I thought this would provide the perfect opportunity to expand the blog, enhance the branding and establish new contacts.

If you’re a new visitor, Welcome to Black Calavera! First all I thought I shall introduce myself. I’m Charlotte Pridding and I currently maintain a research blog known as Black Calavera: The Skulls Project that explores the growing interest in the human skull via contemporary art, design and popular culture. The blog was founded in 2012 as part of a university project, where I recognised a fascination for the contemporary representations of the skull within Melbourne’s urban landscape.This is where the story begins and my exploration into death’s unavoidable presence.

Initially, I used the blog as a form of documentation and note taking for my thesis that explored the artistic, cultural and historical depictions of the skull. To my surprise, I gradually accumulated a following and a response from the public that motivated me to continue writing articles and reviews regarding the current trends or styles involving the human skull.

The blog was initially inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration and the sugar skulls that influenced the solo exhibition in 2012 and the artistic components explored the sugar skull face painting within a European context via portraiture as well as black and white photography. The project eventually progressed into a series of self portraits that reflects my personal perceptions of death and mortality via makeup or face painting in order to reflect the contemporary depictions of the skull.

Well what’s next? I’m currently in the process of developing Black Calavera that will hopefully include new articles, projects and websites. The aim is to continue the blog as long as I can in order to examine whether the representation of the skull changes or progresses over time and I’m intrigued to determine whether my interpretations of death will change due to different life experiences.

My other interests include writing of course and event photography, although I hope to establish a separate section for my freelance photography under Black Calavera in the upcoming year. That’s me in a nutshell, I hope you enjoy reading the posts and the articles!


Nude with Skeleton by Marina Abramović 2005

tumblr_mdx3r1JiWV1qa95wro1_1280

Hey there, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, although I have recently discovered the most extraordinary performance artist that I have the urge to share!

Marina Abramović is internationally recognised for her inspiring, captivating and conceptual performances that provoke a powerful and emotional response from the audience, as referenced by Sean O’Hagan.1 I’ve recently watched a documentary known as, The Artist is Present that presents Abramović most iconic and fascinating performance at the MoMA Museum of Modern Art.

According to The Marina Film Project, audiences queued to sit in front of Abramović as she sat completely still within a gallery space for six hours straight for two to three months. There was complete silence, as Abramović would continue to stare at the person right in front of her. This is one of the most remarkable performances to date and I’m completely mesmerised by the way Abramović can emotionally engage with the audience.2

The documentary presents Abramović artistic career including her relationship with Ulay, although there was one performance in particular that immediately captured my attention. Nude with Skeleton 2005 presents the artist with a skeleton that is placed over the top of her nude body, as referenced by Lima. The most fascinating aspect is the skeleton’s synchronised movements that correlate with Abramović’s slow and controlled breathing; the overall performance delivers a very interesting parallel between life and death.3

788402665

Lima explains that the performance explores death’s inevitable presence and the very notion that life itself isn’t permanent. In fact, the performance invites me to consider the presence of life and death that is profoundly emulated through Abramović’s performance including the dramatic and captivating composition with the life-sized skeleton.5

According to the MoMA audio recording, Marina Abramović explains that the skeleton exposes the frightening perceptions surrounding death and the concept of facing mortality.6 This is quite a confronting piece, as the juxtaposition between the artist’s figure and the skeleton invites me to consider my own mortality and my impermanent presence within the world that is a relatively scary thought at times. The performance delivers a powerful and emotional response that is admirable and inspiring.

I know if I had a life-sized skeleton placed over the top of me, the experience would be surreal, even frightening. The thought that we’ll have to face the inevitable at some stage is a challenging feeling that invites me to reconsider the value of life and the present moment. It’s amazing to actually realise how one single performance can trigger these profound emotions or thoughts; this is what Abramović does best! 7

The Marina Film Project mentions that the performances were recreated within the exhibition at the MoMA through a dedicated group of artists that participated in Abramović’s intensive training sessions leading to the grand opening.8

If you ever get the chance to watch The Artist is Present, I would definitely recommend it, even if you’re not into performance art, this will provide a completely different perspective in regards to art and the surrounding world. The documentary invited me to understand the importance of being present and aware of the your surroundings internally and externally. Don’t forget, rent or buy a copy of this documentary, you will seriously be amazed!

References

1., “Interview: Marina Abramović,” Sunday 3rd October 2010, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/oct/03/interview-marina-abramovic-performance-artist
2.The Marina Film Project, Force LLC and Mudpuppy Films INC, 2012, http://marinafilm.com/
3.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton,” http://www.li-ma.nl/site/catalogue/art/marina-abramovic/nude-with-skeleton/9280#
4.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton”
5.MoNA Multimedia, “Marina Abramović. Nude with Skeleton.” http://www.moma.org/explore/multimedia/audios/190/2016

6.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton,”
7.Lima, “Nude with Skeleton,”

8.The Marina Film Project, Force LLC and Mudpuppy Films INC


UV and Black Light Sugar Skull Designs

UV-Sugar-Skull

#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.

maxresdefault

#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.

a2865d1dd23459eac174aa8f1fa42a92

#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.

razem-blisko

#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

90e42e8e780e53dce6379d5d301d05d3

#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.

uv-make-up-candy-skull-light-painting-071

#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.

13375-MCO3252222084_102012-O

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

3fbec3cc33766e757083d79609884079

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

black_light_sugar_skull_with_tutorial_by_katiealves-d7zmymv

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

048edf790866dff8debc32969c890941

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

title

#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


Top Five Sugar Skull Makeup Designs

maxresdefault

Sugar Skull Makeup by Lindsay Hancock 

At the beginning of the year, I explored a range of inspiring, black and white makeup designs featuring the human skull. The post featured my favourite design and I briefly discussed certain patterns or styles that I find particularly inspiring. Today I thought I would briefly analyse five different sugar skull makeup designs that I admire; this task has been rather challenging, as there are so many fantastic styles or designs online. Before we get started, I thought I would briefly mention the cultural associations related to the sugar skull face painting.

Since 2012, I developed a fascination for the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival including the sugar skulls that have significantly increased in popularity within contemporary art and popular culture. I decided to conduct some additional research online, where I discovered hundreds or even thousands of photographs featuring various sugar skull make up designs.

According to Elizabeth Carmichael and Chloe Sayar, these vibrant, hand crafted sugar skulls are designed for the Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration, an annual tradition featuring a range of activities, decorations and memorials that welcome the ‘departed souls.’1 The Day of the Dead is often celebrated on the 1st and the 2nd of November that reflects both European and Pre Hispanic traditions, as referenced by David Carrasco and Scott Sessions in The Daily Life of the Aztecs.2 I began to question the growing interest in the sugar skull makeup, why do we paint a skull onto our face? and why do we choose sugar skulls as the primary design?

Margo DeMello investigates certain activities and decorations that are prevalent within the Day of the Dead celebration including the skull face painting that, “one again, represent the dead symbolically.” According to DeMello, the Spanish were perturbed by the Aztec’s optimistic perceptions of death and “this is reflected in the skull imagery used by celebrants today, which universally feature smiling skulls.”3

This is their most distinctive quality, the sugar skulls are colourful, vibrant and creative; they provide a positive approach to death and the designs have deeply inspired various cultures from around the world. So here are my five favourite sugar skull makeup designs, enjoy!

fd11b9b544e073fdbd5723b9471a8ea0

#1 Black and White Sugar Skull: Blair Earcret and Amanda.A.Hughes

As soon as I conducted my research into the sugar skull makeup / face painting, I was instantly inspired by this particular design. Blair Eacret and Akins Hughes have created an inverted skull and the overall style is very unique compared to the other sugar skull patterns that I have discovered online.

This is one creative, yet intriguing design that immediately captured my attention and the artist(s) have successfully created a very interesting perspective in regards to the sugar skulls through the use of black and white makeup or face paint. There is limited information in regards to the process and I have struggled to search for a website or a social media page. This particular design would work really well as a professional photo shoot or a makeup tutorial!4

1069814_472861772854443_7725422254090869818_n

#2 Elvis Schmoulianoff: Vegan Makeup Artist

While I was searching through my Facebook news feed, I discovered a very admirable sugar skull design by Elivs Schmoulianoff, a professional makeup artist who sources “cruelty free cosmetics,” as referenced by the artist’s website.5

The dark lines or patterns significantly contrast with the bright, vibrant colours; these particular elements successfully create a very striking design. The yellow and the red just compliment each other perfectly and the dark outlines exemplifies the circular patterns around the eyes, chin and forehead. While the design is beautiful, the eyes or the pupils feature a sinister appearance, which provides a very unique composition.

dia-de-los-muertos-sugar-skull-catrina-makeup

#3 Sugar Skull Makeup Tutorial by Lindsay Hancock

This is one incredible, yet colourful sugar skull design by Lindsay Hancock who has created a very instructional video tutorial in regards to the overall style. Hancock is a professional makeup artist and stylist from Los Angeles with an extensive modelling portfolio, as referenced by Hancock’s website.6 As I continued to watch the sugar skull tutorial, I was amazed by the different tones, pigments and gradients; they definitely add a very interesting dimension. The final result is very impressive and the photo shoot presents a very shiny complexion that compliments the colourful sequins around the eye sockets and the wig.

This is properly the most colourful sugar skull I have encountered and the style does remind me of a Barbie doll or Nikki Minaj. In one of the photos, Hancock stands in front of a bright, purple backdrop covered in glitter, although the colours are very overpowering at times; In my personal opinion, the makeup does work really well against a white / silver backdrop. Overall the tutorial, the photo shoot and the final result features a very distinctive and eclectic representation of the Mexican sugar skulls.

screen-shot-2010-11-11-at-5-58-15-pm

#4 Sugar Skull Advertisement for Jose Cuervo

Now this particular design was a surprise discovery that caused me to stop everything completely! According to LEVINE/LEAVITT, the sugar skull make up is designed by Alex Box who has ‘collaborated’ with a very talented photographer, known as Dimitri Daniloff in order to create an advertising campaign for Jose Cuervo.7

The patterns and the gradients are very smooth / refined and the elements contrast with the monochromatic colours and the dark backdrop. There are shadows along the model’s cheekbones that definitely adds definition to the design, the actual shape appears relatively similar to the human skull. This is a very fascinating campaign that has inspired me to try the tequila for myself.

sug3-1

# Royal Sugar Skull Tutorial by Jangsara

Last by not least, I present a very informative, yet interesting sugar skull tutorial by Jangsara. The site presents a list of instructions in regards to the shading, the definition and the decorations. The design is minimal compared the other styles that I have researched, although the shading around the cheekbones does remind me of the human skull. The actual shape appears similar to the skull, although the sequins do add a decorative element to the design.

While I do admire the sugar skull makeup, the roses are quite distracting and a simple, dark background would elevate the overall design. If the roses were smaller, they properly wouldn’t interfere with the main focal point. Overall the tutorial and the final result is very inspiring, creative and compelling.8

Overall, these are my favourite sugar skull makeup styles and the decision was incredibly challenging, as there are so many impressive designs to choose from. I’ll intend to create an additional post with all the sugar skull designs that I have recently discovered over the past few weeks. It would be interesting to research some male sugar skull designs as well in order to create some variation. I hope you enjoy the post and stay tuned for further updates.

References 

1.Carmichael, Elizabeth and Sayar, Chloe, The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico, (Texas: Texas Press Printing, 2003) p.6
2.Carrasco, David and Sessions, Scott, The Daily Life of the Aztecs, (California: ABC-CLIO, 2011) p.249
3.DeMello, Margo, Faces around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia of the Human Face, (California ABC – CLIO, LLC, 2012), p. 58-60.
4.MuchPics, (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/NmNW3J
5.Elvis Schmoulianoff: Make Up, Wigs and Body Art, ‘About,’ (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/pifYhI
6.Lindsay Hancock, YouTube, “Sugar Skull Makeup Tutorial,” 31 Oct 2012 (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/4pBjgG
7.LEVINE/LEAVITT, “Jose Cuervo by Dimitri Daniloff,” Nov 12, 2010 (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/CM3gJC
8.Jangsara, “Tutorial: Royal Sugar Skull,” Sept 16, 2011 (Accessed 12/2/15) http://goo.gl/Zd9qcP


Black and White Skull Makeup Continued

DSC_0518111

Yesterday, I shared one of my self portraits with the black and white skull makeup and I thought I would add the rest of the photographs from the series. Once I’ve taken the photographs in the dark laneway, I decided to take some additional photos before I started to remove the makeup. I do enjoy experimenting with the makeup, my aim is to expand or enhance the overall design.

DSC_0499111

in my next attempt, I would create a different shape for the teeth and I would add some additional shadows around the eyes or the jaw line. In some of my previous posts, I have discussed my interpretations of death via black and white photography, I have highlighted the most crucial elements so I thought I would keep this particular post relatively short and simple. If you are interested in viewing the previous posts, just click on the link here for Death & the Photographic Image Part I and Part II

DSC_0493111

Towards the end of the night, I smudged the makeup in order to created a distressed or deteriorated effect that did create some interesting results. When I view the images, I sometimes can’t believe that I’m the person in the image, I’ve become my own personal representation of death. This is my first attempt with the black and white skull makeup in about two or three years and the photo shoot has provided an excellent opportunity for me to practise, I intend to continually develop or enhance the design.

DSC_0571111

The photographs are inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe’s Self Portrait, 1988 and the artist passed away in 1989 from AIDS, as referenced by the Tate Gallery Website.1 At first, I was fascinated with Mapplethorpe’s black and white self-portrait and the surrounding darkness definitely isolates the artist’s own face and his skull shaped cane; these particular elements have a profound effect in regards to my perceptions of death.

DSC_0482111

I regularly associated death with darkness and the reduction of colour or movement, although it’s so hard to articulate the ending of life, as there are so many different explanations. I have repeatedly mentioned these thoughts over the past couple of years and it will be interesting to see if these ideas will progressively change over time.

DSC_0480111

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photographs and I have a surprise that I’m really excited about! I can’t wait to share the details!

DSC_0591111References

1. Mc Ateer, Susan, Tate Gallery, “Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, 1989,” (Accessed 5/2/15) http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mapplethorpe-self-portrait-ar00496/text-summary


Work in Progress: Death and the Photographic Image

DSC_0216
About a couple of weeks ago, I began to draw a skull onto my face with some black eyeliner, eyeshadow and a very pale foundation. This is my first attempt in about two years and I thought I would practise applying the makeup onto my face before I move onto something more elaborate. I decided to take a few test shots around North Melbourne in order to search for the most appropriate locations and backdrops for a potential photo shoot. Back in 2013, I have taken some self-portraits at the beach in Airey’s Inlet and I thought it would be interesting to take some photographs within the city.

I began to question whether the makeup impacts my perception of death and the human skull? As soon as I create the eye sockets, I begin to realise that death is inevitable, unavoidable, yet so ambiguous; the end of life will eventually occur and my skull will eventually surpass my very own existence.

At times, I am slightly perturbed by the idea, although there are certain stages of the makeup process, where I’ll concentrate on the actual design or the application. There are times, where I won’t think about death until I’ve taken the photograph, as I have the time to go back and reflect upon the overall process. It really depends on my mood or my surroundings, as my interpretation in regards to death changes on a daily basis.

I decided to take some photographs / self-portraits opposite the train station, as well as an empty alleyway that I discovered on my way home. I decided to take some test shots and I intend to revisit the same location for the photo shoot, I was surprised with the results and I was pleased with the photograph next to the train tracks, hopefully I can expand upon this particular idea.

When I viewed the photographs on my computer, I began to realise that the images capture a younger version of myself, I have aged since the time the photo was taken. The overall concept has invited me to consider the idea that every day, every month and every year is another step closer to death.

DSC_0315

In one of my previous posts, I briefly mentioned Susan Sontag’s publication, ‘On Photography’ that explores the camera’s ability to capture one’s own mortality.1 According to Sontag, “photography is the inventory of mortality. A touch of a finger now suffices to invest in a moment with posthumous irony.”2 Sontag’s theories have invited me to question whether my self-portraits will continue to exist after my death?

Have I managed to capture my own mortality through these self-portraits? As I mentioned before, the self-portraits have invited me to explore my ageing process, while the person in the photograph remains young forever, I’ll continue to age everyday until I face the inevitable. The end of life and the beginning of death is such a natural, yet disturbing idea that I do find particularly fascinating and perplexing.

Sontag does explore some very interesting concepts relating to the connection between death and photography. The author refers to Roman Vishnic who has taken photographs of the ‘ghettos in Poland’ during the early 1930’s and Vishnic realised that the people / civilians would eventually ‘perish’ or disappear.3 Sontag explains that “photographs state the innocence, the vulnerability of lives heading toward their own destruction, and this link between photography and death haunts all photographs of people.”4

DSC_109311

I agree with Sontag’s theories, as I am haunted by this particular idea and it’s often strange to realise that the people in the photograph or the image will eventually die, everyone will die at some stage including myself.5 In a way, the self-portraits resonate a connection to death and mortality, although I have wondered what would happen to the image if I destroyed the physical surface of the photographic print.

I decided to take a closer look at my self-portraits and I realised that the photographs were very smooth and I decided to destroy the physical surface of the print in order to establish a closer connection to death. I decided to crumple the images and rub the paper together; as a result the ink from the printer tarnished certain areas of the images and the experiment successfully created a distressed effect.

In 2012, I decided to destroy my images using water, cello tape, paint and chalk in order to present the notion of decay and disintegration; I have decided to continue the project in order to determine whether these ideas or concepts have progressed since the beginning of 2012.

DSC_110411

I do prefer the distressed images, as they successfully establish a greater connection to death. I cannot imagine death as a smooth, perfect or pristine image, I imagine death as a body slowly decaying or disintegrating into a decomposing corpse. I believe the images can be destroyed even further in order to establish this particular style, at the moment I’m just exploring different concepts.

Ripping or crumpling the photographic portraits distorted my self-image and the backdrop, when I viewed the images in the laneway, I noticed that the colour has changed to a brown / sepia tone. I actually prefer this particular effect and the change of colour adds to the level of decay, maybe it is possible to find a connection to death through monochromatic or sepia tones.

I have often questioned what happens to the body after death, can the photographic image portray the process of decomposition? This is what I intend to explore over the next few weeks and sometimes it is really difficult to destroy something you’ve created yourself, although it would be interesting to see what happens over time, will these images change in some way? I am really interested to see where this project will take me, this is all I have for now but stay tuned for further updates!

References
1. Susan Sontag, “On Photography” (USA: Penguin Group 1977) p.15
2. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15
3. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15
4. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15
5. Sontag, “On Photography” p.15