Make-up diary of a drag artist

Eppie Conrad is a young designer who graduated with an MA in Fashion Design from Kingston University. Her focus for work is on fashion and print – her graduate collection was notable for its strong references to one of her greatest influences, Jedward. Separate to her work, Eppie also has a drag persona and her amazing make-up creations for this embody her creative spirit in the same way that her work does. “I think I always have to draw to keep myself sane, it just happens that I started drawing on my face, and it’s working marvelously for me right now,” Eppie says.

We asked Eppie to take us through her make-up diary, before answering some questions about why she loves the creative and intriguing scene of drag.

1. Eppie | Drag art | The Chromologist

Where were you going?
“Madonna’s private party at Annabel’s.”

What was the idea behind the look?
“The theme of the party was ‘Living for love’ we were asked to do love themed looks. I just messed about with my glitter heart look and wrote ‘LOVE’ in it to make it very obvious. Never one for subtlety me.”

How did you achieve it?
“Flash palette colours for the white and black. Adhesisive applied to the face and then glitter on top, one colour at a time. I did the pale pink first, then added the detail for the lips and ‘LOVE’ in darker pink. I then defined the letters by painting white outlines on the letters and around the heart.”

How long did it take?
“About two hours, as I have to be more precise with lettering.”

How did it make you feel?
“MARVELOUS GLITTER LOVE QUEEN!”

2. Eppie | The art of drag | The Chromologist

Where were you going?

“The Box on a Thursday.”

What was the idea behind the look?

“This was an anime-inspired look, helped by the colour choices and harsh black outlines. It was just meant to be striking. Lightening-striking.”

How did you achieve it?

“Clown white, blue and green glitter. I have to mix the colours to create the ombre. Adhesive. Neon pink lipstick. Black face-paint.”

How long did it take?

“One hour 30 minutes – this was a quick one because the shapes were very simple and as I was black outlining everything it meant the glitter could be slightly messier around the edges before it was covered up.”

How did it make you feel?

“GLITTER ANIME FORCE OF NATURE.”

3. Eppie | Make up diary of a drag artist | The Chromologist

Where were you going?

“Ultra Violet at Shadow Lounge.”

What was the idea behind the look?

“I wanted to be a princess because I had bought a cheap crown from Tiger, but not a traditional princess. I think I’d been watching some episodes of Batman the animated series, so Harlequin was in my head when I was painting the eyes. I’d grown tired of having the same eye shape every week so tried something new.”

How did you achieve it?

“Adhesive, glitter – purple pink and silver ombre, black facepaint, eyelashes (cut in half).”

How long did it take?

“Two hours. This was the first time I’d tried the glitter ombre so it took a little longer.”

How did it make you feel?

“HARLEQUIN OMBRE GLITTER PRINCESS.”

4. Eppie | Drag make up | The Chromologist

Where were you going?

“Ultra Violet at Shadow Lounge – a different night.”

What was the idea behind the look?

“I wanted to do a variation of my heart look, but my face needed a rest from glitter and glue. So I just did a simpler ombre face paint. There was a bit of a Marie Antoinette vibe going on too.”

How did you achieve it?

“Neon face paint (cheap stuff), clown white and black eyeliner.”

How long did it take?

“This one was an hour because of the simple shape.”

How did it make you feel?

“REGAL FRENCH LADY.”

5. Eppie | Art of drag | The Chromologist

Where were you going?

“Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit On The Side (Drag Special) at Television Studios.”

What was the idea behind the look?

“I wanted to do one of my classic bearded queen looks as the Big Brother team wanted drag queens for their Bit on The Side show.

How did you achieve it?

“Adhesive and blue glitter for the beard and eyebrows. Black and white eyeliners to give myself massive eyes. Pink eye shadows to move the crease of my eye up a bit (and to hide my real eyebrows). I always wear black contact lenses and 199 or 301 lashes as I like my eyes to look big and cartoony.”

How long did it take?

“Two and a bit hours, but a lot of us were getting ready together and I’m so easily distracted with other people. Jason (pictured) and I always end up looking related when we do looks, like brother and sister – cute!”

How did it make you feel?

“CLASSIC BEARDED QUEEN INTRIGUE.”

6. Eppie | Make up diary | The Chromologist

Where were you going?
“Photo Shoot – Gods Own Junkyard (Chris Bracey Exhibition) at Lights of Soho.”

What was the idea behind the look?
“For this photo-shoot I was asked to look like I was from another planet, but an opulent mythical planet, with unicorns.”

How did you achieve it?
“Adhesive, glitter – gunmetal silver to light silver, and pink for the lips. White and black eyeliner (liquid) and black face paint for my neck. Black contact lenses.”

How long did it take?
“Two hours. I took more time with this one as I knew I was going to be photographed and wanted to be perfect and camera ready. This photo shows me after the photo-shoot, so I have removed my wig and the black paint from my forehead.”

How did it make you feel?
“OTHER WORLDLY.”

7. Eppie | Drag artistry | The Chromologist

Where were you going?
“Noho, Cafe Kaizen.”

What was the idea behind the look?
“I wanted to be quite cartoony on this day and had been experimenting with drawing my hairline on because I didn’t want to wear a wig all the time. I made my contour really harsh and my lips massive and blue!”

How did you achieve it?

“Face-paint in UV gold, neon pink and clown white (I mixed the clown white and neon pink to make the base colour for my face). Black face paint for eyes and white eyeliner. Purple contact lenses.”

How long did it take?
“This was an hour and a half, because it simple really.”

How did it make you feel?
“LIVING CARTOON.”

8. Eppie | Make up | The Chromologist

Where were you going?

“A Curious Invitation Masquerade Ball.”

What was the idea behind the look?

“I’m always making variations of my heart design (hearts are my favorite shapes), but was finding different things to glue to my face. I used actual hundreds-and-thousands for this look. But I wouldn’t recommend it as it turned out I was allergic to the food dye! Oops, you live, you learn. I’d love to do this look again but using tiny beads to save my skin. It looks bloody lovely though so totally worth it for one night only!”

How did you achieve it?

“Adhesive, hundreds and thousands, pink glitter, black and white face paint, massive eyes.”

How long did it take?

“One hour 30 mins.”

How did it make you feel?

“THE NATION’S SWEETHEART.”

 

IN CONVERSATION WITH EPPIE

 What drew you to drag?

“The people and the feeling of acceptance within the community as well as the embracing of everything weird. I’d always been a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, so when London Drag night Meth started bringing the queens to The Black Cap, I’d go to see them. I started to dress up to go out, became friends with so many lovely queens and drag happened gradually. Bourgeoisie put my first pair of fake eyelashes on me and became my drag mother. Then I started to dress up more and more and really experiment with what I wanted to look like.

The main turning point for me was when I drew a smiley face on my face (you have to have a gimmick). Before then I had been doing classic drag looks, such as some glitter beard. But the way people reacted to the smiley face was like nothing I’d felt before. I wanted to keep upping my game and one went out dressed as Lidl. I mean who’d dress as Lidl?!”

When creating your make-up is there a particular aim that you want to achieve?

“I want women to see they can wear anything they want to, it’s not about being naturally male or female. I really believe my gender shouldn’t matter, that’s kind of my message. Anything can be beautiful even if it’s the undefined. There’s no point in trying to label everything.”

 As a female in drag are you in the minority? If so does this feed your creativity?

“It used to be that way, but drag is definitely changing. The fact I’m a women doesn’t really affect the choices I make, it’s more about expressing an absence of gender. People can be more intrigued because fewer women do it, but once you get under the surface of it, we’re all doing the same thing, we’re all dressing up. I just want my artistic talent and the looks I create to speak for themselves. Drag is so freeing and expressive, I can be whoever I want to be, without feeling trapped by gender or expectations. It a very supportive community, sometimes I feel completely genderless and it has been really liberating to explore that side of myself with support and acceptance from others.”

Is drag for you purely recreational or is it tied into work too – do you perform for instance?

“I’ve recently started to perform, only gogo, and being an extra, but I want to start performing myself, that’s the next hurdle to get over. I want the make-up I choose to influence my performance in a way.”

You mention Jedward and anime as influences in your work – can you describe why?

“Jedward taught me that the best possible thing you can be is yourself and then everything else falls into place. They have a real sense of innocence and wonder about them that has inspired me daily to be curious and expressive and not to worry what people think.

Looks wise anything can inspire me though. It could be something I see when I’m on Instagram. Being in a shop or having a conversation could mean I’ll think of something. Sometimes I like to base a look around a t-shirt or a toy or food stuffs. Or if there’s a theme for the event I’m going to I’ll usually think of something funny or sarcastic based on it. I’m a bit of a logo queen. Something that I’ll think is obvious, but other people don’t think of or just wont do!”

How important is colour?

“Colour is everything to me! So many colours inspire me and it can depend on the season and how I’m feeling. I don’t think I’ve ever done a black and white look, apart from when its been specified for a job. I have always loved pink and rainbows… so that’s pretty much the whole spectrum.

I also like primary colours as they are so striking like the Lidl look – red , yellow and blue. Simple yet effective.”

How about finishes – is the glitter effect hard to achieve?

“If you have a good method it isn’t hard at all. It can get more complicated when doing multiple colours of glitter, so it can be quite painstaking to be detailed. I love drawing though and am quite good at it, so personally I don’t find it hard. Just time consuming, I’m also always learning new things too and like to challenge myself. To change things up recently I started to ombre the glitter, that’s fun to do.”

How do the looks bear up – is your make-up still intact at the end of an evening?

“For the most part, yes! I don’t drink or do recreational drugs so I’m not out to get wasted. I like to be present in what I’m doing. If I’ve used adhesive for a look, that can stay on all day, no problem. The difficulty comes in taking it off. That’s the nightmare! Clawing away the glitter and glue from your face at 5am. It’s totally worth it though. The pros far outweigh the cons.”

For more amazing looks, follow Eppie on Instagram here.



Jill Macnair

About

Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.


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