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Darby Woodlief
@jar.of.fliez

MUA Darby Woodlief creates ‘ugly’ beauty using paint and food scraps


TextFelicia Pennant Old

We speak to the 18-year-old about her emotional creative process, gaining Instagram recognition, and why she’d donate her arm to Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen

The Dazed Beauty Community is our ever-expanding encyclopaedia of creatives and emerging talent from across the world who are redefining the way we think about beauty. From supermodels to digital artists to makeup prodigies transforming themselves in their bedrooms, these are the beauty influencers of tomorrow who embody everything Dazed Beauty is about. Discover them here.

While others steer clear of clumped lashes, powdery, cracked skin, and smeared gloops of eye colour, make-up artist Darby Woodlief (also known as @jar.of.fliez on IG) dives right in, really revelling in the tantalising texture, pattern, and ‘ugly’ beauty of it all. “I’m a sort of freelance artist who uses make-up, paints, food scraps, and random objects to create a variety of looks,” explains the 18-year-old. Pushing the boundaries of beauty embellishment far beyond glitter and crystals, to artfully applied insect wings and spidery tomato leaves, her execution is unapologetically messy and cruelty-free, as seen in the rows of closely cropped stills and rhythmic animations on her feed.

“A personal favourite is an orange glossy, slimy look with white swirls called ‘MS Awareness Month’. Dedicated to my mother who’s battling with multiple sclerosis to spread more awareness about the neurological disease, I combined orange eyeshadow with gloss and white acrylic paint,” shares Woodlief, demonstrating that she can find inspiration, as well objects to incorporate into her looks, basically anywhere. Naturally, after tagging creative collective Gloop Archive into her expressive looks for a bit, they came calling. The make-up artist’s self-described “whimsical, dynamic, and expressive” aesthetic shares the same glamorous strangeness as other contributors and she’s now officially a member.

Here, we speak to Woodlief about ugly beauty, her emotional creative process, and using found objects to create her looks. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you grew up?

Darby Woodlief: I was born in a military hospital in Fort Stewart Georgia, but my family unit has never stayed still for very long. I spent parts of my childhood in the village of Attica, Ohio, in different parts of New Hampshire and I’m in upstate New York now. I grew up around lots of animals, nature, and music.

What’s your earliest beauty related memory?

Darby Woodlief: Dressing up in my favourite Disney princess gowns and applying candy-flavoured lip glosses.

What is it you do and why do you do it?

Darby Woodlief: I’m a sort of freelance artist who uses make-up, paints, food scraps, and random objects to create a variety of looks. Make-up has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and, as I got deeper into the make-up world, I decided to make a make-up-focused platform.

Describe your beauty aesthetic in three words.

Darby Woodlief: Whimsical, dynamic, and expressive.

“I’m proving you can love yourself no matter what you’ve been conditioned to think and feel, and that bodies don’t come in one shape or size. I’m showing that you don’t need hair to be or feel beautiful and that make-up isn’t just used to cover blemishes, it’s used for ultimate expression” – Darby Woodlief

Talk us through your creative process?

Darby Woodlief: When I sit down to create, and have no specific ideas, I lay out all of my make-up, gravitate towards a certain colour or medium and start immediately. I just flow without thought and give myself as much time as I need to feel like it’s completed. If I have created one look and am still feeling artistically motivated, I continue to add and remove things until I’ve created a new look from the old. The process of making looks is in tune with my emotions and personally rewarding, but I’m also suddenly inspired by things in everyday life. 

How did you get involved with Gloop Archive?

Darby Woodlief: I was digging through the unusual and ugly side of Instagram make-up and I decided to tag the archive in some posts. Later, one of my works was posted on their feed and I was asked to join by the lovely founder. Gloop Archive is a wonderful platform of artists that encourage strange yet glamorous looks. I enjoy contributing looks made with ever-changing textures and patterns. 

Of all your looks, which are your favourite? 

Darby Woodlief: A personal favourite is an orange glossy, slimy look with white swirls called ‘MS Awareness Month’. Dedicated to my mother who’s battling with multiple sclerosis to spread more awareness about the neurological disease, I combined orange eyeshadow with gloss and white acrylic paint. Another favourite I made for the Gloop Archive is titled ‘Silver Streak’, a streak of silver acrylic paint goes from under my eye and over the lid and then covered in TKB Trading gloss.

How do you assert your identity and experiences through your beauty and hair?

 Darby Woodlief: By being utterly myself. I’m proving you can love yourself no matter what you’ve been conditioned to think and feel, and that bodies don’t come in one shape or size. I’m showing that you don’t need hair to be or feel beautiful and that make-up isn’t just used to cover blemishes, it’s used for ultimate expression. 

What beauty, skin and hair products are you using the most right now?

Darby Woodlief: Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Cleanser and Daily Balancing Moisturiser, a rhassoul clay mask by Poppy Austin, Mehron make-up face paint, and Physicians Formula glitters.

Which fictional character do you most relate to and why?

Darby Woodlief: Bobby Hill of King of the Hill – he loves food and he’s a creature of comfort and luxury. He loves to make his friends laugh and enjoys entertaining, dancing and singing. I feel like he really tries his best but doesn’t always get to where he wants to be. 

What does beauty mean to you?

Darby Woodlief: Appreciation. It’s beautiful to be able to recognise that there is a beauty to almost everything in life. You apply this by appreciating all genders, body, hair, and skin types. 

When do you feel most beautiful?

Darby Woodlief: When I feel most uninhibited. When I create art, dance to my favourite music, eat food in my undies, after I remove make-up, and after I shave off all the hair on my head.

Tomorrow you wake up with another face of your choice. Whose is it and why?

Darby Woodlief: I’m pretty into my own face but if I had to, Danny Devito – who could say no to that face? 

If you could commit a crime and get away with it, what would it be and why? 

Darby Woodlief: Probably arson of Trump-affiliated establishments or robbing pharmaceutical companies to give expensive medicine to the sick and poor.

You have to donate a feature/limb of your body to an icon of yours. You get nothing in return. What feature/limb do you give and why?

Darby Woodlief: I would give Rick Allen, the drummer of Def Leppard, my arm because he’s only got one. Imagine him playing two drum sets at the same time with two arms!

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?

Darby Woodlief: Zero fallout eyeshadow, shade-shifting foundation to match skin tones at any time of year, instant-set concealer, charcoal-based lipstick to whiten teeth as you naturally consume lipstick as you wear, and a formula that works for the duo purpose of mascara and eyeliner.

Would you rather colonise Mars or build a utopia in the centre of the earth? Why? 

Darby Woodlief: I would choose the utopia because I love Earth too much to leave it. I could never abandon this planet to possibly just ruin another. 

What is the future of beauty?

Darby Woodlief: Beauty being legitimately inclusive and represented by all walks of life. There would be no standards of beauty, no one model or type of person to compare yourself to, and brands and stores would treat every type of person properly. 

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