“Be aggressively yourself” – says Vancouver based make-up maverick
From digital artists to photographers, body sculptors and hair stylists to make-up and nail artists, in our Spotlight series, we profile the creatives tearing up the rulebook in their respective industries.
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick is the Vancouver-based make-up artist and cruelty-free beauty activist ripping up the rulebook with her bold designs, deliciously gothic aesthetic, and obscure otherworldly references. A former member of Kat Von D’s Artistry Collective, a quick scroll on the 23-year-old’s Insta and you’re immediately hooked. She uses her face as a blank canvas (sometimes quite literally) for her creative expression. This one time she transformed herself into an Abstract Expressionist artwork. Not one to be confined to traditional beauty products, you’ll often find her experimenting with found objects: string, fresh petals, miniature cutlery. Nothing is off limits. Apart from anything animal tested - something she’s rigorously against.
Born in Vancouver, Kelseyanna moved around a lot as a kid – Netherlands, Czech Republic – before finally settling down back in Canada by the age of eight. “I was exposed to many different ways of life early on,” she says. “I think moving all over the world from a young age shaped me as a person and artist.” For Kelseyanna, who was recently diagnosed with autism, art has always provided a means of escapism. “It has been a coping mechanism, my solitude, my whole life.” And from there, make-up was a natural progression. “Make-up was just a new medium. I try to capture my own idea of beauty because to me beauty is what takes my breath away.” Here she shares her tips on how to make it the industry.
Growing up, what informed your understanding of beauty and identity and the way you presented yourself visually?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: We didn’t have cable TV where I lived, just movies, so I had very little exposure to pop culture and was always a bit out of touch. I usually don’t catch onto social norms, so I present myself as a bit odd.
Why are you an artist? What made you want to become one?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: It’s just the way my brain is wired. Besides animals and movies, art has been my greatest obsession since I was very young (observing, absorbing and creating it).
How did you actually get into it? Where did you hone your craft?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: I like being alone, so I had lots of time to work on my art. Everything else felt like a distraction from it. I took every art course I could in school, and in my spare time. I have always loved art fiercely. My excellent and intense teachers have shaped my knowledge and beliefs. This has been very valuable and I really love to learn.
Tell us a bit about your creative process.
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: I hermit alone for a week or so and absorb inspiration in any way I feel like. Sort of like getting into character. Once I have captured the idea or feeling I want to portray, I will sketch or create a mood board, maybe test out some techniques. My final step is hyper-organising my kit so my mind can be clear with everything I need.
Is beauty something you try to capture in your work or something that you reject? What is your relationship to “beauty”?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: Both. I believe in rejecting beauty standards others project onto you. I do try to capture my own idea of beauty because to me beauty is what takes my breath away. I desperately want to create that feeling whenever I can. I think beauty is incredibly fluid and I know my perception of it can appear skewed.
What are the projects that you’re most proud of or that you enjoyed working on the most?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: Working with passionate, talented artists is magic. Some of my favourite experiences have been assisting. I like trying new shit and taking risks. Seeing everything transform on camera is nerve-racking and exhilarating.
What’s the most significant thing you’ve learnt over the course of your career?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: I don’t think it’s said enough but it’s okay to be quiet and socially awkward in this industry as long as you are a hard worker.
Up until earlier this year, you were part of Kat Von D’s Beauty Artistry Collective for quite a few years. How did that come about? What was it about Kat von D and the brand that made you want to work with her?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: Being a part of the Artistry Collective was an opportunity for me to travel and meet some very talented artists globally. Getting to be on a team of artists who inspired me for so long was awesome. It also gave me the chance to explore different areas of the industry and decide which of those I did and didn’t want to explore further.
As part of the collective, you’ve worked on some amazing people, for example, Billie Joe Armstrong and Lala. Do you have a favourite memory or person that you’ve worked with?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: Probably my favourite memory was collaborating with Steffanie Strazzere on Melanie Gaydos for Ashley Rose Couture’s “My Dearest Dust” show.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: My years of studying art history have fuelled my approach to art, and I try to learn from make-up in the same way. I find it helpful to learn from others but take inspiration from outside sources. My personal style is an accumulation of anything that has ever inspired me. I do have an inescapable love of the macabre and fantastical creatures.
What is your dream project to work on?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: This is always evolving for me. Lillian Liu and I are planning to shoot Caitlin Stickels this month which has been a dream of mine for a long time. I hope to work with Tim Walker one day as well.
Looking back what would you have done differently?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: Maybe to continue my art school education instead of ditching it for make-up school. I got accepted to a few art schools, but at the time I thought if I wasn’t the best, why bother. I no longer think that matters.
How do you think our understanding of beauty has shifted with the evolution of technology?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: I like that social media has given a louder voice to those who didn’t have the chance before. It’s harder to shove standards down people’s throats when they have a chance to fight back.
What advice would you give to young artists hoping to get into the industry?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: Practice as much as you possibly can. Practice on yourself, practice with other young creatives and grow together. Be aggressively yourself.
What are you currently working on?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: Myself.
Who would you like to shine a spotlight on next?
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick: @anythingforselenaaas.