Photographer: Max Eremine · Model: Berkeley Clayborne · Hair and makeup: Jill E. Clark
In search of everyday beauty, artist Jill Clark’s canvas is the human face and form
One of Chattanooga’s most successful art-ists is challenging her media as well as society’s concept of what art is. Jill Clark’s application of pigment to skin transcends traditional makeup design, conjuring up hauntingly beautiful aesthetics that tread the line between scary and endearing. Her work can be seen on actors and models, on the stage, in films, in music videos, photo shoots, and on the runway.
The Pulse: When did you first start making art?
Jill Clark: When I was 5, I won a contest for drawing a squirrel on a stump. My art teacher pulled my mom aside and told her I was meant to be an artist. Being young, I just loved to draw; it was my escape and it allowed me to express what I couldn’t in real life. Later, when I got accepted into the Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts, it became a changing point. I realized that I couldn’t do anything else, nor did I want to. My calling ached to have a voice, and visual art gave it that. It was during this period that my colors started to take on their signature style: bright jewels surrounded by awkward, muted tones.
TP: How did you get into the field of makeup design?
JC: Initially, I never thought of makeup as an artistic outlet. Then, in 2005, one of my classmates told me about a local company that was hiring someone to custom blend and make color. She thought of me because I am colorist by nature. As soon as I started blending colors, I fell in love. It’s an art form that came from a happy place. I didn’t look at it as girly or product-driven. Instead, it’s exactly like painting, thinking of anatomy, bone structure, muscles, and skin tone/ body chemistry. Every face is a unique canvas. Designing the look of the characters is one of my favorite parts of makeup. You get to know the character visually.
TP: So you consider makeup design to be a fine art form?
JC: I do; it’s even along the lines of being an ephemeral art! Photographers, cinematographers, film magazines, fashion trends, websites, paintings, and even Instagram keeps makeup artistry archival. I use color theory, line, shape, shading, contouring, blending, sculpting techniques, and composition theory that I learned from art school in my makeup creations. I always think about anatomy while contouring and blending makeup on the face. I have to understand the bone structure of the face for my placement of makeup, so it looks three-dimensional, not flat and lifeless. Makeup is my medium and people are my canvas. I want to blur the line of the hierarchy of visual arts vs. fashion, making an even playing field that both the fine art world and fashion world will want to look upon and take as their own. To reach both and move them into emotion is a big deal for me. It’s not just a cupcake-frosted-sex-kitten surface, it’s an exchange of “I see and acknowledge you, thank you for moving me.”
TP: What kind of materials and methods do you use?
JC: The materials and methods are always a bit of a kitchen-sink approach. I’m always thinking outside the box and trying to be cost-effective, using art supply stores, thrift shops, Home Depot, makeup stores and found objects. Overall, each project has its own set of materials.
TP: What inspires your choice of color and shading?
JC: Inspiration for my color palette comes from horror and science fiction films, paintings, nature and decomposing objects. My color palette and style of makeup changes with every job. I can look at a person and know what color direction to put them in without having to think about it.
TP: What is beauty?
JC: I find beauty in everything: nature, found objects, physical beauty and emotion. Each carries a story that is relatable. I remember the movie “American Beauty” and the plastic bag floating in the air that was considered beautiful. Visual art, photographs, paintings, magazines, movies, ads, and literature tell us what we should think beauty is; it’s ingrained. But we aren’t robots! Beauty isn’t just young and gender-specific. With age you see the life that grows within us. I see beauty in being strong, and beauty in letting someone see us at our most vulnerable. Beauty is complex.
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To see more of Jill Clark’s art, visit jilleclark.com