Today we’re joined by Carly Ann. Carly Ann is a phenomenal artist who does a lot of visual art and SFX makeup. She works in a wide variety of mediums when she’s drawing. Carly Ann is also incredibly passionate about makeup and it’s truly something she loves to do. Her work shows an incredible attention to detail and it’s very apparent Carly Ann’s a gifted artist. Her passion shines through in her interview, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a bit of a jack of all trades in the visual arts as I never hesitate to take on a new challenge or venture into a new medium. My main focuses tend to be in drawing and special effects makeup, though I even work in costume design and prop making. I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon and have continued with it as a hobby into adulthood. It has only been in the past couple years that I decided to make it my life’s work, that art is what brings me the most joy. My typical drawing mediums include graphite, charcoal, and ink, though I have even dappled in oil pastels and gouache. Even my subject matters tend to bounce from everything to photo-realistic portrait work, abstract expressionism pieces, and even still life.
As for special effects makeup, this interest has been a more recent development. Upon reaching my teenage years and continuing into the present, I have stepped into alternative fashion. Makeup has always been a means of self-expression for me in this unique lifestyle, from simple dramatic looks to bordering on stage makeup. But I never considered it as a form of artistic expression or a potential career path until two years ago. I hit a state of severe depression about halfway through my sophomore year of college. I was not happy with the career path I was originally on, but too scared to take on art as it is stereotypically thought of as not a reliable income source. One of the few daily activities in my life that kept me going during this time was waking up hours before class to do intense, dramatic makeup. I would watch YouTube videos and teach myself all these creative ways to manipulate your features through cosmetics. After I reached my lowest point in my depression, I asked a friend what they thought I should do and they said I always look my happiest when I am doing my makeup. That was all the convincing I needed to realize that my heart truly was in the arts, thus I became an art major and dedicated my life to it. Since then my work has been focused in sculpture and I have done numerous projects in special effects makeup. Needless to say, I have never been happier or more confident in myself than I have at this point in my life.
What inspires you?
The concept of duality is something that I not only embody in my artwork, but in my life. Contrasting ideas, beauty meets horror, life meets death, dark meets light, have always fascinated me. Much of the artwork that I do for myself embraces these conflicting elements. People tend to fear the darker aspects of our world as they hold uncertainty and the unknown, but I want my art to show that there is no need to be afraid. There is beauty in darkness and just as the shadows can conceal, the light can blind. Finding balance between the two, understanding that life and death go hand in hand, is the root of much of my work.
As for artists I find inspiration in, they range from tattoo artists to special effects makeup artists, both of which are career paths I am looking into for the future. One of my favorite tattoo artists is Ryan Ashley Malarkey, an independent artist from Kingston, Pennsylvania. Her fine line black and grey pieces are simply breathtaking in their detail, and tend to feature many of the dual elements I mentioned before. In special effects makeup, Mykie, also known as Glam and Gore on YouTube, has been an incredible source of not only inspiration, but information. Much of her work does not involve expensive products, which when you’re a poor college student, it’s much appreciated. Not to mention her YouTube channel caught my eye with its contrast. Many of her tutorials marry beauty and blood, from gory Disney princesses to neon zombies. I’ve referenced a number of her videos in order to achieve my own unique looks.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I suppose you could say I have always been interested in in the arts. My family has been very supportive, always making art supplies available, signing me up for dance classes, as well as encouraging theatre and music-related extracurricular activities throughout my education. The arts, in all its vast forms, are something I could not imagine my life without. Music and theatre helped my cope with my shyness and social anxiety. Drawing became an outlet for my vivid and creative imagination. Makeup has taken on a form of self-expression, a means of showing the unique individual that I am, inside and out. I even currently work within the costume shop on my college campus, it has already become a means of sustaining myself financially. Though, I never really considered the career path of an artist until recently due to the financial risks society likes to associate with it. There was always this fear that my art would never be “good enough”, that I would not be able to apply it in a way to sustain myself and it could never be anything more than a hobby. But thanks to dedication, practice, and the encouragement of those around me, I have gained a lot of confidence that being an artist is the right field for me.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I have actually put a bit of thought into my signature. Writing out my full name can be such a hassle, and admittedly I am not a huge fan of my handwriting. Instead my signature consists of a rather stiff and scratchy looking moon with a star hanging off the top. The intention is for it to not only mimic the imagery of the night sky, but also hold my first and middle initials (the moon for “C” and an “A” hidden within the lines of the star). It’s simple, but unique, and once more embodies the idea of lights in the dark.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Honestly, I feel as if I could write an essay of advice alone for aspiring artists, but to be brief I will touch a few main points that helped me pursue my passion. The first being, do not be afraid of risk, whether that is taking on an unfamiliar medium or dedicating your life to art in general. It’s all a learning experience, and you are bound to make mistakes, but do not let those hold you back or make you believe that your art is not worthy. Practice does not make perfect, practice gives you a better understanding of who you are and how your art is an embodiment of that. All art is “perfect” in its own way as it is an extension of yourself, and you are wonderful. Do not feel pressured to meet the expectations or abilities of those around you, or you run the risk of losing the creativity that is the root of all art. That is when it becomes more of a chore than something enjoyable. Also, it is okay to take breaks from time to time. Do not think that you need to dedicate every waking moment to creating something. There is value in stepping away from a piece and allowing yourself time to meditate on your ideas, as well as recharge your creative energy. Finally, never let anyone devalue your art or the life of an artist. There are those out there who will attempt to discourage you, make art seem trivial, almost juvenile. But they just fail to see how we are all constantly surrounded by art. Art enriches our lives, gives us beauty and even an escape from reality from time to time. There will always be a need for art, your work will always hold value. You will always have a purpose in this world as an artist.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as both asexual and aromantic.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Over all, within my work as an artist I have never faced any ace prejudice (outside the field is another story). Since I have only recently taken on the ace/aro terms to describe my orientations (about half a year ago), I have only just begun expressing this aspect of myself openly to a select few individuals in my field, all of whom have been incredibly open-minded. My employer in my college’s costume shop (who identifies openly as both heterosexual and heteroromantic) has spent hours discussing sexuality and the LGBT+ community over our work with me in a completely accepting manner. Any questions she has had have been asked both politely and completely out of curiosity with a desire to gain a better understanding of the ace/aro spectrum. In general my college campus is very friendly towards the non-heteronormative and non-cisgendered community. We even have posters currently up around our buildings welcoming those that identify as agender and asexual to the LGBT+ organization on campus. However, as I am a senior with the intent to graduate in the spring, I am a little apprehensive if that will change once I am involved in the professional art world. But with more light and acknowledgement being shed on asexuality and aromanticism as valid identities, and the spectrum they encompass, I am confident that with time we will all be better understood.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The most common misconception that I have personally encountered is that ace/aro individuals are cold-hearted or emotionless. While this has not been expressed by anyone within my artistic field, I have been confronted with it by people in other areas of my life. I have been called a “man-hater” and told that I “do not even count as a girl” because I do not experience romantic or sexual attraction and am personally uncomfortable with affectionate physical contact. In reality, ace/aro people, including myself, hold just as much emotion as anyone else. These aspects of our identity pertain only to our lack of sexual and romantic attraction and by no means imply hatred or devalue our sense of humanity. I have found this to be one of the most toxic forms of ace/aro misunderstandings as it enforces the ideas of being “broken” or inhuman, which simply are not true. Regardless of attraction or lack thereof, ace/aro people are just as deserving of respect and love.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Just as I could for aspiring artists, I feel as if I could go on for pages of advice for fellow ace/aros, despite having only come to understand my own identity less than a year ago. The best advice I could give is to love in the way that you feel most comfortable with (and is obviously consensual). As I have questioned my sexuality over the years, trying to put a name to it, I have caused myself an incredible amount of unnecessary stress and grief. Even after accepting my own ace/aro identity, I still find myself dwelling on these unnecessary thoughts. What if it really is just a phase as society tries to accuse? What if it’s rooted in a medical issue relating to libido? What if I never find anyone who will be satisfied with being in a platonic relationship and I spend the rest of my life alone (albeit with a lot of cats)? But in the end I just need to take a deep breath and clear my mind. I need to remind myself that I am human, I am not perfect, but I am not broken. Most importantly, what it all comes down to is what makes me comfortable and happy, whether that is being in a strictly platonic relationship or finding in time that I identify somewhere else on the vast spectrum of sexuality. Regardless of labels, regardless of any changes I may experience as I further understand myself, I am still valuable as a person and deserving of love.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Most of my work gets posted on my personal social media; this includes Twitter (necromanticdoll), Instagram (necromanticdoll), and Tumblr (necromanticdoll.tumblr.com). As I build my portfolio and career I may make accounts dedicated solely to my art, but I will be sure to keep things updated on any changes via my personal accounts.
Thank you, Carly Ann, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.