Teratology talks non-conventional techniques, her design aesthetic and why she thinks it has a chance of becoming mainstream
The word “teratology” means both the study of physical abnormalities and the mythology of monsters. So as far as Instagram handles go, it’s a decidedly appropriate one for 3D makeup artist Maren Bailey, who chose it after watching the movie Freaks. “After having my art continuously ridiculed and being called a freak, creepy or weird every day in class, this film finally made me realize that maybe it was okay to be different,” she wrote. Using just a few skillfully sliced pieces of paper or materials like string and cactus needles, Bailey creates seriously avant-garde looks probably “best” described as Klaus Nomi cosplaying a cyborg praying mantis queen in a galaxy where Chinese architecture and minimalist BDSM are all the rage...if you get my drift? She prefers a more laconic term for her aesthetic: “Strange, yet inviting.”
It’s a formula that has captivated people and gained her over 56k followers, but Bailey’s ‘fame’ came completely unexpected. The 20-year-old Phoenix resident has only been playing around with 3D makeup for five months, her initial reasoning for turning to more unconventional materials being to substitute her eyeliner and false lashes that had run out. One thing led to another, as they do, and by mid-summer, she had begun developing her signature projects like her paper makeup line, PAPERIZE. We caught up with Bailey to talk the future of 3D makeup, her favorite non-conventional materials, and how her background as a forensic photographer set everything in motion.
Aside from paper, what is your favorite non-conventional material to use in your 3D makeup looks and why?
Maren Bailey: Texture plays an important role in the majority of my work – so a lot of what you will see or hear me use, whether it’s now or in the future, may be unsettling to some. I have been experimenting with several new materials but until I can get them to work the way I want them to, they will remain undisclosed.
In addition to using paper, I really enjoy playing with cactus barbs and string. My reasoning for the cactus needles would have to be due to the fact they are a natural material that doesn’t require any manipulation by man. They are ethically retrieved, come naturally curled and are already matte black. What more could a makeup lover ask for? As for the string, again, it’s much like the paper in the sense that it provides a slightly raised texture while enabling the wearer to achieve a crisp look with little to no mess – not to mention it comes at an affordable price and can be found practically anywhere since it’s so widely used in our everyday lives.
Does your background as a forensic photographer influence your looks at all, and if so, how?
Maren Bailey: If anything, I believe without my background in forensics, I would not have started creating makeup looks, to begin with. During the time, I had been taking a countless amount of criminal justice courses without taking any art, so when I would come home, my way of escaping was by watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. My favorite aspect of that experience was seeing how many different people could interpret the same look because it required the next person to think that much harder about what they would need to do next in order to have theirs appear different from the rest. It was apparent that they would have to really challenge themselves if they wanted to stand out from what had already existed and I looked forward to that artistic stretch.
“I really enjoy playing with cactus barbs and string” – Maren Bailey
Paper makeup, especially eyelashes, have been around for a while, but they all tend towards subtle or more delicate looks. Many of your designs, however, are big, striking statement pieces. Are you aiming for the same market or do you have a different demographic in mind for your designs?
Maren Bailey: Of course, my market will be different than that of the paper makeup already out there. My customer would be daring and looking for something dramatic. Although I strive to have my designs made to be worn by the public, it is equally important to me that I protect my work much like I would with my traditional art. Unlike most paper makeup brands, I still want there to be the option for my designs to be displayed in ways where they don’t necessarily have to be worn. I do plan on making separate sets that will be for display purposes, only because I do recognize that not everyone will have the same desire to wear my designs out and about.
Do you think people will ever be wearing 3D makeup in their everyday looks, and what do you think that will look like?
Maren Bailey: I do. In fact, I think my concept of 3D makeup will become more common amongst the community once it’s been made or worn public by a big name in the industry. Whether or not the design will be constructed out of paper, presented in a fashion show, worn in a music video or on the red carpet, I can definitely see the idea being crazed and turned into something widely used in the near future. However, I do not believe it will be hand crafted, assembled, and designed during the production process. Unless it’s my line.
You've done collaborations with Paperself and you had a Kickstarter at one point for PAPERIZE. What's next for your brand?
Maren Bailey: Yes. As far as PAPERIZE goes, I will remain working on its development, in addition to several of my other series, such as the “Unconventional,” “Glitter,” and “Affordable Avant Garde.” I certainly want to continue putting out new work and bettering myself, however, I also need to ensure I am very focused once school [at Tom Savini’s Special Makeup Effects Program] starts because I will also be busy with work and class assignments. That being said, you can most definitely count on more experimentation and much bolder ideas in the meantime.
I would also like to mention that although my Kickstarter project was unsuccessful in its funding, I am extremely grateful for those who took part in supporting PAPERIZE and that I actually have something special planned for those individuals as a little thank you once I get situated in PA. And don’t fret! I will get PAPERIZE operating someday soon.
As someone who is known for her artistic and otherworldly looks, what is your go-to everyday look?
Maren Bailey: Truthfully, my everyday go-to looks are reliant upon the forecast and occasion. For instance, if it’s 120 degrees outside and I have no special plans I will generally stay home and go bare faced until 5pm rolls around and then I will lock myself in my room and create a new look for @teratology. If I am travelling, have some place I need to be all day, or should I simply have people to meet with, I will generally put something together much like the work featured on @teratology.
I find myself going through periodic phases, however where I will go from wearing a neutral and somewhat natural look to exaggerating my features in ways that would not be in the makeup handbook. I think that’s one of the beautiful factors that comes with makeup though, It’s not permanent. So whatever you feel like wearing, you can, because at the end of the day you can just wipe it off and start all over.
More of Teratology's work can be seen here.