“For the past three or so months I’ve been working on paintings for a solo show that opens on November 22nd at Jeff Bailey Gallery. I’m 28, and I’ve always known that I’d be an artist—I’m not good at anything else. I have no backup plan. [Laughs] I went to the Fame high school—LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City, and studied art in Baltimore, at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
My paintings aren’t technically paintings—I’m not using paint. I’ve been building this body of work for about six years that involves working with rhinestones on denim, or studs on leather. It’s rooted in various traditions of patterning, textiles, and mandalas. It's also linked to fashion, couture, glamour, and beauty, and to my meditation practice and the spirituality I’m investigating. My work is kind of in-your-face, or aggressively beautiful, but I can also talk about my work in a metaphysical way—about vibrations, colors, chakras, energies. I’m very interested in spirituality and magic.
For my paintings and my personal style, more is more. I’m over-the-top. I like to play around with makeup—wearing a big bold lip and a dark smoky eye, because why not? I’m inspired by the makeup of silent-film stars, like Theda Bara. It’s such a great look. So I guess I’m dressing for the theater of my life. [Laughs]
For a bold lip, Nars is obviously the best, both in terms of color and staying power. Scarlet Empress is my favorite wine berry. And Red Lizard is a blood red that looks really good with my skin tone. My go-to eye shadow is anything black with gold sparkles, but the sparkles have to be subtle. Bad Gal Lash by Benefit is a great mascara, but I like any mascara with a giant brush. To get old movie star, 1940s eyebrows, I use the Anastasia Beauty Express for Brows and Eyes. It comes with stencils and a little cream to set everything. I also get my eyebrows threaded. I don’t know why more people don’t do it! It’s only six bucks and it looks amazing.
In terms of skincare, I like to wear BareMinerals Matte Foundation over a primer—BareMinerals Skin Rev-er Upper. The primer seals the powder, but both are so light, they don’t irritate my temperamental skin. If I’m going out super-glam and I want full coverage, I use Nars Sheer Glow Foundation.
Sadly, good skin is not one of the gifts the universe bestowed unto me. I have to use tons of lotions and potions. I wash my face with Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser, and exfoliate twice a week with Kiehl’s Skin Brightening Exfoliator. When I get blackheads, which happens a lot, I use an exfoliating mask, Boscia Luminizing Black Mask, and that helps a lot. I've found that Clinique Acne Solutions Spot Healing Gel is the best for breakouts. To moisturize during the day, I like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer. And then at night, I slather on Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. That’s amazing, because it smells so good, and you wake up feeling so refreshed in the morning. You have to be careful when you go into the Kiehl’s store because they’ll give you samples, and then you’re like, 'Fuck, I guess I need this. I’ll drop whatever it takes.' [Laughs] But anyone who wants good skin should really just go to Kiehl’s, because they’re the best alchemists in town.
My hair...I think I am finally getting the hang of my curls. For eight years I had a pixie cut, only because my hair was big and I didn’t know how to make it look good. But my amazing hairdresser, Topher Gross at Arrojo, is a god of curls. He gave me Arrojo Gentle Conditioner. My shampoo—DevaCurl No-Poo—was also a real game changer, too. It doesn’t make suds, so it feels more like a conditioner. My hair is best when I wash it and then go to sleep with wet hair. A hair dryer just fries my hair—it’s so hard to retain moisture with curls—and poofs it up. When I sleep with wet hair, I wake up with super sexy bedhead.
Otherwise, taking a bath is the most relaxing meditation time for me. I’m not good at meditating, so it’s important to practice. I get the best thinking done in the bath, too, so I take them at least once a week for thirty minutes, until I prune up. I use Oshun Golden Luck Bath salts that I get from Enchantments, which is an old-school witchcraft store in the East Village. Each salt is used to manifest something different. If you don’t believe in that hocus pocus, they still smell great. If you do believe in it, then Yahtzee! [Laughs]. Sometimes I just take a bath with Epsom salts or hydrogen peroxide and essential oils. It’s a great detox. I have flowers, crystals, and seashells everywhere too, to bring out these Venus and Poseidon vibes. Venus is a go-to lady when you need help with love.
For deodorant, I love Baxter of California's, which doesn’t have any chemical crap in it, and has a nice unisex scent. My favorite perfume is, hands-down, Dior Hypnotic Poison. It’s really intense, because it’s spicy, so I usually only wear it in the winter—I’m wearing it now. It’s so bewitching. In the summer, I like Dior Pure Poison. It’s lighter and more floral.”
—as told to ITG