Tag Archives: Mexican Day of the Dead Skulls

Top Five Sugar Skull Makeup Designs


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!


#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


#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.


#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.


#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.


# 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.


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

Entry into the 2013 Kodak Salon


Photograph by Charlotte Pridding, 2013

This year, I submitted one of my photographs into the Kodak Salon, a photographic competition that is exhibited at the Centre of Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, Fitzory. The Kodak Salon encourages a range of photographers to submit their own work into this annual competition, the photographic prints are exhibited at the CCP gallery for at least three to four weeks.1

The Kodak Salon is based in Australia and there are twenty different awards across various disciplines. According to the official CCP website, the Kodak Salon is inspired by a particular style used in Paris during the 1800’s, many galleries and exhibitions in France would display the artworks across the wall from top to bottom.2

There were some amazing photographs on display and there were a few artists that have incorporated the skull into their own work. I decided to submit a print I had produced at the very start of this year, the title of the work ‘reassurance’ features a photograph of myself at the beach with a skull painted onto my face.

The photo was inspired by my Honours research project that explored the growing interest in the skull within Melbourne’s urban / street culture. I started to develop an interest for the Mexican sugar skulls that I discovered in many bars, restaurants, shops and galleries across Melbourne. These colourful and decorative ornaments inspired me to create a series of black and white self portraits that depict my own personal perspectives of the Mexican sugar skulls that are commonly associated with the Day of the Dead Festival.

Once I completed my degree, I continued taking photographs of myself in various locations in order to discover my own interpretations of death and the depiction of the skull in the contemporary visual culture. I’m still searching for a specific answer, which has been rather difficult as my own personal interpretations do change on a daily basis.

I decided to enter the photograph of myself at the beach that questions what happens after death, what happens when the human body deteriorates? Does everything suddenly turn to darkness or do we move from the living world to a completely different place? It’s really hard to tell as there isn’t one definite answer, how can we define death if we have never experienced it before?

Of course everyone has their own interpretations, I’m hoping these photographs will hopefully provide the answers to all of my questions.  So that pretty much summarises everything at the moment, I’m currently working on another project at the moment that I would love to share to you all once I’ve completed everything, so stay tuned! 🙂

If you would like any further information please click on the links below.



Other Links



Skull Tattoo Design by Cecil Porter



- Sullen Angels release another amazing tattoo design by Cecil Porter via Facebook

Due to the fact that it’s extremely hot today, I mean 38 Degree with hot northerly winds, I decided to browse through my Facebook page for any interesting tattoo designs relating to the Day of the Dead. At the moment I have been following Sullen Angels, a brand based in the USA; their page always features amazing tattoo designs from other international artists.

This morning, I discovered the most incredible tattoo design that features a young woman wearing a skull mask decorated with colourful and illustrative patterns. The level of detail os amazing and the colours do highlight the different patterns and designs within the actual image. The tattoo was designed by Cecil Porter, a tattoo artist located in California, while searching through the artist’s website, the majority of tattoos often feature celebrities, animals, skulls and popular fictional characters.

Porters website also contains a range of amazing watercolour paintings of super heroes, the amount of detail is very impressive, the paintings remind me of the images that one would see in a comic book. Ok, so back to the tattoo that I had found on the web, the detail around the eyes, nose and the mouth does remind me of the Mexican sugar skulls. The skull mask also features a very dynamic composition with the skull that appears to be tattooed to the woman’s arm.

This design is definitely one of the most amazing tattoos I have ever seen, if I had to choose a tattoo for myself, I would not hesitate to get this one. The image effectively combines beauty with the macabre through the use of colour, tone and composition. For more information click on the links below and remember to check out Cecil’s Porter’s website for more amazing tattoo designs.



Jessie Riches

3/12/12 – Mexican Sugar Skull by Jessie Riches

While walking through the Geelong shopping centre, I had recognised a painting from a local artist known as Jessie Riches who has painted the skull and cross bones with bright, vibrant colours and intricate patterns. The painting is currently displayed in the front window of a book store in Geelong Westfield, from my most recent visit, I decided to undertake some further research into the artist.

Jessie Riches is a local artist in Geelong and her website explains that the artist specialises in painting, design and illustration. Riches bio also mentions that the works on display are inspired by tattoo art. When I viewed Riches work for the first time, the use and colour as well as composition did remind me of tattoo art.Riches work also reminds me of pop art surrealism, the bold patterns and the vibrant colours definitely provide the artist’s characters with unique characteristics.

While searching through the artist’s website, I did come across a painting / illustration of a young woman with the Mexican Day of the Dead skull painted onto her own face. This work in particular presents certain elements from the Mexican sugar skulls that is quite distinctive from all the other paintings, illustrations or photographs I have seen. The face paint is quite subtle and the patterns do compliment the roses that appear to have been tattooed to the woman’s neck.

The different colours and the patterns definitely captures my attention, to me the painting presents a unique juxtaposition between tattoo art and the Mexican Day of the Dead. If you are interested in Riche’s work, please click on the link below to visit her artworks.



Mexican Day of the Dead Skulls used in the latest James Bond Film

30/11/12 – Latest Hollywood production uses Mexican Skulls

Last night, I had decided to watch the latest James Bond film, Skyfall featuring Daniel Craig; I must admit this was by far the best James bond film I have ever seen. The cinematography was brilliant and actor, Javier Bardom (Silvia) was an excellent villain! While watching James Bond, I had recognised that the Mexican Day of the Dead skulls had appeared throughout the majority of the film. The skulls were used as a symbol of danger when something potentially life threatening was about to occur; I did find this particularly interesting, to me the Mexican Day of the Dead skulls feature an element of humour and satire, they’re rather light hearted compared to the skull and crossbones.

I don’t want to release too much information especially for those who have not seen the film, although the Mexican Day of the Dead skulls did correspond with Silvia’s personality or mentality. It was interesting to see how the Mexican Day of the Dead skulls have been interpreted in large Hollywood productions and the contemporary, visual culture. In James Bond for instance, the Day of the Dead skulls were used to reflect the villain’s evil, psychotic nature, I’m just so used to seeing the skull and crossbones, especially in film and television. Perhaps the Mexican Day of the Dead skulls are becoming a popular in contemporary cinema, it’ll be interesting to see if there are any other productions that will reference the Mexican Skulls.


Skull Merchandise at Faster Pussycat

Skull Printed T-Shirts by Faster Pussycat

2/11/12 – Window Display

I was walking down Fitzory, Gertrude street and I decided to visit a store, Faster Pussycat. A vintage / boutique store that sells art books as well as skull printed t-shirts, skirts and dresses. I also noticed a range of children’s clothing with the skull which I do find interesting, I wonder if parents would buy skull printed t-shirts for their children? The front window also featured Day of the Dead imagery including papier mache skulls and skeletons, perhaps the display is used to celebrate the Mexican Day of the Dead. I have also discovered the Facebook Page for Faster Pussycat, the actual site displays some interesting stuff including some Mexican Day of the Dead T-Shirts. Please click on the link below if you would like to find out more information about Faster Pussycat.



Blurred Photograph

17/10/12 – Blurred Self Portrait

At the moment I’ve been experimenting with my own photographs, I deliberately blurred this photograph in order to produce a different effect. I printed out the original photograph, crumpled it and splashed paint over the top, then I took a photograph of the image and I deliberately moved the camera. As I result, I do find the photograph quite creepy, dark and sinister, my face almost looks like it’s melting.

At the very beginning, I did paint similar patterns and designs from the Mexican Day of the Dead Skulls to my own face, although this particular processes distorts my image completely. I can’t even recognise myself, it’s almost like looking at another person. The photograph remind me of something you would see from a horror film and my eyes, face and nose look like they’re melting away.

These processes are useful in terms of developing and preparing for the exhibiton. At the moment I am trying to determine what photographs to include into my installation.