24-year-old Austin Smith's makes headpieces out of chainmail, butterflies and barbed wire
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For twenty-four-year-old artist Austin Smith, or @empty.pools on Instagram, the head is a canvas for his opulent designs. His work balances textiles, mixed media and self portraiture, and often involves digitally rendered photos of him wearing sculptural headpieces that juxtapose the ultra violent with the super delicate. Chainmail, barbed wire and dog collars will make up the base, flowers and butterflies the decor on top, and a bit of fake blood might be thrown in for good measure. The result is always visually rich, vividly colourful and totally unexpected.
"I started out experimenting with fashion for parties with my friends and began to make a deeper creative connection with what I was doing," Austin explains, on how he became an artist. "I grew up and spent my youth in a suburb outside of the city of Detroit. The area in Michigan I come from is very normal and suburban, which is interesting considering how close it is to the city. But moving to NYC after finishing school led me to meet a lot of new amazing creative people that inspire me to keep expanding my practice and push myself."
Still living in New York, Austin is beginning to shift his focus from making work that features his own image, onto putting more people in the picture. But he is also doing more modelling; earlier this year he was asked to walk for Moschino in his "full tattoo get up" – a trademark look when he plasters temporary tattoos all over his striking blue-eyed and bleach blonde head.
You’ve opted to be cryogenically frozen in hopes of continuing the human race. When you’re awoken it’ll be your responsibility to kick-start the breeding. How will you wear your hair on your first date?
I would bleach it white immediately.
It’s the year 2100. You’re the owner of the largest beauty tech company in the world, what five products or treatments will you dedicate your resources trying to invent?
Some sort of permanent hair bleach situation would be amazing, and also something that could kickstart me growing better facial hair. I’ve never been able to have a beard and I'm frustrated about it. Besides that, honestly there’s not much more I would care about inventing – I'm pretty low maintenance in the beauty product department.
You’ve had an accident which causes you to lose your sense of smell. The doctors can’t return it fully but can give you the ability to smell one scent. What do you pick and why?
Fresh cut grass. Living in NYC I rarely get to smell anything other than hot garbage and I definitely miss having that smell around.
A friend once exclaimed that when he dies he wants 'Weeping virgins carved from marble to be placed in a circle around his grave'. What would your ideal tombstone look like?
I think me and that guy should be friends, because I would love to have the same thing as my tombstone.