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Scribbling outside the lines: transformational portraits by Jackson Bowley

The photographer’s project ‘Make-up By...’ captures the endless forms of creativity and expression that make-up allows

In the hands of different artists, make-up has the power to go in a million different directions. Perhaps it’s beautifully artistic, or gory, or just a joyous explosion of colour; the opportunities to explore creatively are endless. 

To investigate this further, photographer Jackson Bowley, came up with the concept for a new project that gave anyone the opportunity to try their hand at make-up. Entitled ‘Make-up By...’, he gave everybody featured the same products and asked them to do whatever they wanted, before capturing their portrait. “It’s such a simple idea, but I haven’t really seen a beauty project like it, so I just thought, perfect,” he tells Dazed Beauty. “I wanted to see something that was so far away from your usual beauty shoots, nothing glossy, real people, and just quite ridiculous and funny make-up.”

“I wanted to see something that was so far away from your usual beauty shoots, nothing glossy, real people, and just quite ridiculous and funny make-up... anyone can wear a make-up look and sit in front of a camera. I hope some beauty brands realise this too...” – Jackson Bowley 

Initially worried that everyone “be tame and head straight for the mascara and eyeliner”, the results couldn’t be further from it. From dark goth looks to colourful contouring, and unrestricted scribbles to on-trend colourful noses, the portraits highlight just how transformational make-up can be. 

“The main thing I took away from this was that make-up is a great tool for self expression and a good way to have a bit of fun,” Bowley concludes. “Also that anyone can wear a make-up look and sit in front of a camera. I hope some beauty brands realise this too...” 

Here, we spoke to some of the faces lensed in ‘Make-Up By..’ to find out more about their looks. 

WENCHU YE, WRITER

What was the idea behind your look?

Wenchu Ye: I was a bit thirsty at the time and thought of a classic fizzy drink from my hometown which has a blue and white label, so consciously and unsubconsciously they were the colours I went with. Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by and terrified of oceans, so whenever I pick up a pen, I tend to doodle wave-related stuff. It all came together randomly and harmoniously for me. 

What do you think the power of make-up is?

Wenchu Ye: To be able to create whatever you want in whichever way you want it on the surface of your skin. 

GERALDINE WATSON, MODEL

What was the idea behind your look?

Geraldine Watson: I didn’t want to put much thought into my look, I just wanted it to feel free.  

What is the future of beauty?

Geraldine Watson: The future of beauty is endless. We are seeing more and more people being expressive with their looks, not just the conventional way of applying make-up.

FERGUS HAYWOOD, DIGITAL MARKETING

What was the idea behind your look?

Fergus Haywood: Shaky hands and inexperience. 

What is the future of beauty?

Fergus Haywood: There are no rules. 

MEGAN ALEXANDER, PHOTOGRAPHER 

What do you think the power of make-up is?

Megan Alexander: The power to be who you want to be and to change who that is depending on your mood. 

What is the future of beauty?

Megan Alexander: Racial and ethnic diversity in advertisement and the inclusion of all skin tones as well as representation of people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, and mature models (that aren’t selling anti-aging  products). 

GEORGINA HUNT, SPORTSWEAR DESIGNER 

What was the idea behind your look?

Georgina Hunt: I took inspiration from my hometown in Essex and the use of elaborate contouring/highlighting trend that is so prevalent there.  

What do you think the power of make-up is?

Georgina Hunt: Make-up allows opportunities to unleash parts of you that can bring you  so much power with yourself. 

BRADLEY STEPTOE, A&R VIDEO MANAGER 

What was the idea behind your look?

Bradley Steptoe: I was listening to George  Harrison “Awaiting On You All (Early Take)” on repeat that day, and feeling buoyant. Mostly spontaneous with vague thoughts of Joan Miró, watery acrylics on mauve sugar paper, and Antonio Lopez. 

What is the future of beauty?

Bradley Steptoe: Blockchain technology.

LILY GABRIEL, 3D ANIMATOR/PIZZA SLINGER

What was the idea behind your look?

Lily Gabriel: I was inspired by 80s pop duo Strawberry Switchblade and sad clowns. 

What do you think the power of make-up is?

Lily Gabriel: It’s an important form of self-expression with no rules, that’s available to  anyone.  

JOSEF ROBERTS, MUSICIAN

What was the idea behind your look?

Josef Roberts: I’d never used make up before so I just really wanted to have fun and play around with it! 

What do you think the power of make-up is?

Josef Roberts: Freedom! 

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