Across the visual mediums of film and make-up, Marcelo Gutierrez creates spellbinding work that draws on his experience as a queer person to challenge conventional ideas around gender and celebrate the complexities of the human experience.
Born in Colombia, Gutierrez came to the US as a refugee and began his career working as a draughtsman and painter, before becoming involved in theatre and later, performance art. “Through these mediums I realised I was really inspired to just tell stories and that’s where filmmaking entered the picture, which led me into a career in make-up,” he explains. Since then he has worked with the likes of Dazed 100 alum Petra Collins, designer Christopher John Rogers, and Dev Hynes, as well as turning the brush on himself, applying extreme colours, crystals, and contours to his own face to blur the boundaries of gender, turning himself into different characters.
“The awareness of how ones presentation can change your experience in the world is something queer people can understand very well,” he says of his impulse towards fluidity of expression. “My obsession with beauty, and its many forms, comes from a place of never feeling limited to one character or one way of presentation. From blush to a hickey, I celebrate the reality of organic beauty and exaggerate its polarising dramatic effect with make-up.”
What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?
Marcelo Gutierrez: I’m passionate about the lack of representation for Latinos in the fashion and entertainment industry. I’m passionate about helping children in abusive homes. I’m passionate about the lack of access to therapy for children of immigrant families or of queer identity.
How do you want to influence the future?
Marcelo Gutierrez: I want to carve out a career that expands what a storyteller can be and what that trajectory looks like within this industry. I want to create a body of work throughout my career through make-up, film and direction that gives the world another example of how Latinos and immigrants can have a seat at the table while also pushing forward new ways of thinking. I want people to dream.
“I want to create a body of work that gives the world another example of how Latinos and immigrants can have a seat at the table” – Marcelo Gutierrez
How has the Coronavirus outbreak affected you, your work, and/or your community?
Marcelo Gutierrez: As a freelance make-up artist, this pandemic has cancelled all lined-up work for the foreseeable future. The fear doesn’t come from not having work once we’re back to a new normal, but the fear comes in not knowing how long this quarantine lasts. The longer it lasts the riskier it gets to be able to stay afloat. With rent, bills, food, and taxes at the doorstep, this reality has me concerned about whether or not I will be able to remain in New York City if this lasts too long. Mentally, this experience has been traumatic on its own. I live alone and riding this out for weeks without having any comforting company or loved ones around me has been a battle to stay above the depression spiral. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I wasn’t depressed, but all I can do is wake up each morning and focus on what I am feeling that morning because every day now is a new battle physically, financially and emotionally. I miss my friends, I miss my family and I miss being able to create with my peers. Like most artists, I’m very sensitive and emotional so being locked inside for two months and potentially more is really a battle-zone in prospect.
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Marcelo Gutierrez: I would use the money to fund a film I have been developing over the course of the past year titled “Tony.” The film follows a young boy through the hurdles of trying to conform into the construct of boyhood, but through his pop idols he goes from daydreaming to putting into action how he truly wants to be known to the world.
Profile portrait of Marcelo Gutierrez courtesy of Papi Juice