Sunday, March 28, 2010

Painting your own world

I was the odd child out, I was chatty (and still am) and often spoke of things that were perceived weird and not very usual for child my age.
 Being the only child too,  my early life was spent in hallways of my imaginary world, safe from judging eyes.
Solitude was not a scary place to me, in that darkness I found most colorful creations., I discovered that I am an artist at heart and that feelings I possessed easily rolled from my fingers,  filling the blank pages of my diary.

Words were pearls that embellished the crown I wore, as a ruler of my own Kingdom. In there child of single, loving and brave mom painted the solitude vivid and soothing.
There, I was free to dive into the pages of my beloved books, ride on the Pegasus, dine with fairies and try to convince Snow white not to eat that apple (it was not organic girlfriend!).

I would often get in trouble in school art class, when I would defly my teacher who would specifically tell me not to use black pencil to outline my drawing with "But sir, it just needs that final touch" - no wonder I became make up artist.

Since written world was most dominant part of my expression, I always admired people who were able to paint, I drew with a pencil a little, but really had no idea where to even start when it came to painting.

I was especially in awe with my friend Rosalida, who has most amazing artistic eye, I have ever seen. She designed costumes, but every aspect of her was living and breathing was art.
She had (and has) ability to find beauty in the most unusual and mundane things in life, like lief fallen from the tree, laying green and dying on the bare sidewalk, she stopped and took it in.
Her paintings were fluid movement of feminine grace, with beautiful vivid colors fusing together to create pieces I wished were my own.

My schooling as painter came years later, in the form of my beloved boyfriend.; He has most amazing ability to throw me a surprise birthday party, year after year (and I consider myself a master sleuth of Sherlock proportions, sans the cocaine addiction). But yet he would get me every year.
During one of those parties (this one was Hello Kitty themed), my beloved boyfriend presented me with red French barrette hat, set of painting brushes and a painting class certificate.  Oh la la! Thus journey began.
 That class was really helpful beginning, I have learned basics of painting. However, my truest education came from mind and hands (and kisses) of my handsome boyfriend.
Michael, self thought painter himself was an amazing artist. His works were huge self stretched canvas pieces abstract and full of statement. His first Xmas gift to me was actually custom made red painting that took my breath away.

He patiently guided me trough different techniques, explained how colors react, pointed what I was doing wrong and showed me how to correct it.
He was detrimental in pushing me when I got stuck. With his firm but loving pep talk, he would guide me trough my mental block.

Some of his techniques were personal ones and not that easily understood by me. I would often revert to that stubborn child outlining everything with black pencil, and try to do it the way I felt comfortable. Take his technique and change it a little, so I can understand better. I was slowly finding my own voice, my own way of painting.
He was more abstract and his movements were blunt and textural, where I found joy in blending everything to death, just like a true make up artist would.

I have started noticing that I was able to view make up differently, thanks to my new hobby. I stopped looking at planes of the face as just that.

Eyes, nose, cheeks and lips. It became sort of canvas to me, where colors bled outside of natural borders to create nice color symphonies, helping me to express myself even more.

My color choices became bolder and more unusual and I found just as I was implementing some of my blending techniques in make up on canvas, I have also picked up some of oil techniques for faces as well.
  Since I am still a novice, I paint things I see, from photographs, books and internet. They are photos that move me, remind me of loved ones or are of loved ones (for example, Phoebe, my cousins adored Cocker Spaniel). I try to make them as alive as possible and I love every minute of it.
 I have a lot of practice and learning to do. My wish is, that one day I will be able to paint out of my own imagination and be able to capture all of those vivid pictures that are floating in my heart, in my own world. They are so loud and waiting to come out.

Even  now as a grown person, I find most comfort in that solitude and silence that surrounds me. A little table, set near the window in tiny NYC apartment became a doorway to my old kingdom.
Once again, I was able to enter the world, where lonely child weaved colorful fabric of imagination, to cover herself from darkness that surrounded her. Protected from the world.
When ever I need to find my center, get away from mad rush of the world, from expectations, from judgment  and find that stillness that coddled me as a child I pick up my brushes and enter.
This time I am not alone, I brought a visitor.

To my kingdom I introduced a man who with his soothing voice and patient hand, led me to find that expression and translate it on canvas - to find my voice again.
I have found a king to rule beside me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

how to save your back and still look stylish

You glam urban warriors know the perils of dragging kit trough the city streets and not to mention subways (insert: dramatic hand over the forehead gazing up to the sky and YESSS violins are present...what?).

I feel like rheumatic 90 year old grandma who wants to cuss everyone out on her way to the photo studio.
So to prevent any innocent blood shed due to my crankiness, I became queen of downsizing.
I still wish I had some gorgeous guy assistant in leopard speedos to carry it all for me, but ain't happening any time soon....sigh
  • I transfer all of my liquids in small bottles. I use glass vials for my liquid foundations
  • De-potting your eyeshadow and placing them on palettes- big help
  • putting your lipstick in metal pots and onto the palettes saves a lot of space
Check out these crafty ones from Yaby

For the longest time I had this little sweet yellow suitcase I got from Brookstone, I wore that poor thing down.

It was all ripped inside, with me trying to cram as much stuff that I feared A&E show Hoarders will ambush me any minute.

Wheels were giving up, I started to sound like one of those hunched horror movie monsters with squeaky wheel for the leg. Hereeeee comesssssssss the crazyyyy make up artist, hide little children, run for your LIVESSSSSsss (cue lightning!!).
It was time to say goodbye to my old yeller, my trusted companion.

I was left with the task of finding another suitcase, that can hold all of my stuff, but be small enough not to give me before mentioned hump trying to go up and down the stairs.

I was flirting with this little handsome fella for a while now (forgive me Old yeller, I was innocent, I promise) by the name Zuca. But he was giving me expensive vibe and was little bit cocky it seemed.

Store had few choices, one of them being Zuca Pro, that had additional compartments inside.
I already had my own bags so I really did not need all of that.
I settled for much more affordable Zuca Sport variation instead.
It was called Zuca Stealth, it made me feel like ninja with that name, I swear. I started dragging it around, it was so silent and then....WOW...wheels started shining! Whooo hooo I am disco ninja!
Thus begun the love affair

Upon seeing how little the Zuca bag was, my boyfriend expressed fear that not all of my stuff will fit in. I was our surprise, it ALL fit with some room to spare. TA DA!!!

I was glad to see that all of my roll make up organizers were PERFECT size for inside of the bag

Did I mention you can sit on it? Its frame is made strong and for sitting. So yay for my lazy bones!

So there, I am happy little make up artist, I am armed and ready for Urban Jungle. Stealthy taking over the fashion world......Now......about that speedo clad assistant.......

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cover that started it all

I can't start telling my story without giving an homage to very special cover.
My boyfriend and I moved from Atlanta (where I lived for 4 years) to NYC to pursue our dreams, me as make up artist, him as a photographer (check his work out at

We did not know anyone from our industry in the city. We tested in our little apartment in Astoria, dreaming of being the part of the bigger picture - sharing our work with the world.

We sort of grew up together, artistically (and emotionally as well). We guided each other through maze of often confusing aspects of fashion world, completely green and starry eyed, we never let go of each other hand.
We plotted, dreamed, drooled over glossy magazines, kissed, sat on our couch dreaming of fun things to come....hopeful.

One day, Michael was contacted by editor of a magazine( that shall remain nameless), she has seen his website and loved his work.
She offered him to shoot a beauty story that was due in a WEEK!!!
Theme of the issue was music, he was to shoot the story using his own resources.
You can imagine the excitement, the opportunity, finally, finally!

Being that our aesthetic is very dark and moody, Marylin Manson came to mind immediately.
I decided to pay homage to his evolution as an artist, through make up.
Michael presented idea to the editor and she LOVED it!!! She called the next day and told him he should use her friend make up artist for this.
With only few days left to shoot this, he told her he would like to use his usual team of hair, stylist and make up artist.
He told her he would love to meet her make up artist as well for future shoots (we are not bound to each other and work with other people freely).

Next day, she asked him to send the link to the crew he is using, and loved and approved everyone, except....take a guess....make up artist (SURPRISE!!).
She called my work very LA, what ever that meant? Michael explained to her again, that he has no time gambling with new artist on such a short deadline.

I was devastated. I felt like someone took my dream and crushed it in their hands.
Rejection by the magazine I liked and fashion person whose work I admired was very disheartening. I cried like a baby.

I was worse than Bridget Jones, I was walking around with greasy hair and drowning my sorrows in pint of Hagen Daas Coffee flavor. I had full orchestra of tiny little violins playing dramatic tune around my head.
Then I got angry, I pulled up my sleeves and The Dope Show was born.

That shoot was special to me, it was shot in tiny little room, with most amazingly gracious and patient model called Masha who just arrived from Siberia night before to walk at Bryant Park.

She was jet lagged, so I would lay her down on the floor of our kitchen, put the pillow under her head and apply her make up while she took little naps, how lucky we were to have her! Our comrades in 12 hour journey, stylist Oliv and hairstylist Seiji patiently weaved their magic.

Despite all of the obstacles like small space and long hours, we created something special.
That story of ours took a life and we were so proud. No matter how happy I was, this little voice inside was telling me not to get too excited about getting published, and I was right.
Our story ended up being the only story that was cut out of the issue.

The Dope Show became The Drop Show, oh my. So it sat there whispering in my ear for weeks, like Smeagol calling out: "My precioussssssss...."

After almost a month I decided I could not let this story go. I sat in front of my computer and at 10 o'clock at night started e mailing.
At 11 pm I received an e mail asking us do we have credits ready for the story and has it ever been published anywhere else.
As I read down the e mail and saw the name of the magazine my heart skipped, oh hell, it STOPPED!!!
It was CITY magazine! One of the magazines we drooled over, one magazine that inspired us so much with their fun, cheeky and imaginative stories.
Their issue with the model and the colorful crab on her head we kept in our possession FOREVER (and we still have it). That CITY was talking to us, at midnight.
I was to meet Fabrice Frere, creative director in the morning at his office, I could not believe this was happening.

There I was, shaking the hand of the man who without any politics, any pretension saw something and gave a chance to two unknown people, on merits of their work.

He slowly turned his computer monitor toward me, and there it was....Masha artfully licking her black and gold lips, daring the world to take a peek.

When I left his office, I cried, yes, like a baby again ( hey, I am Slavic, we are very dramatic). This time they were tears of enormous gratitude and an amazing lesson learned.

It was poetic that it was the CITY that gave us our first chance in our now beloved city. New York spoke to us.
New York is tough, it tests you, it pushes you and it inspires you at the same time.
Many more rejections came after that, but they gave me no tears, I had my wings.
Every insult, rejection, setback inserted another feather to help me fly. I knew that for every opinion, there are people who are willing to give me a chance.

Today I have an amazing agency that I am proud to belong to, so much under my belt and so many more goals to accomplish so many more lessons to learn. I welcome them, I am not afraid to keep on going.

People like Fabrice Frere, driven by vision, art and stripped of any mind games make this City for me. Streets are filled with them.

I know because I met them, they helped me grow as an artist and as a person. I met beautiful photographers, hairstylists, fellow make up artists, editors, art directors and many more.

They all have a story of their own, they all had cuts on their skin but they grew, became stronger but still kept their kindness and passed it forward.
Those are people I look up to, those are people I want to be. My light,my inspiration, my heart.
I am so ever grateful.

So there it is that beautiful girl on the cover of the magazine playfully sticking her tongue out, telling me not to take myself too seriously and to never give up.
So my dear friends, never give up, you are not alone.

Hello world

My name is Viktorija Bowers, I am Croatian from Dalmatian coast (yes yes like a dog, but I hide my spots with excellent concealer by Benefit :)).
I live in New York City, city of my heart. My profession is make up, and reason I created this blog.
Make up is my dream career and I am so grateful I am able to express my artistic soul and make a living as well.
I know there are so many thousand of blogs out there, my goal is to share little bit of myself with the world, even if it is just a whisper.
Please forgive me for my less then perfect English, I will try to be as accurate as possible.
So here it goes, my first post!
Hello World!