Haunting Close-Up Portraits By a Makeup-Artist-Turned-Photographer

AT A TIME when photography is reaching further and further into the realm of fantasy, digital manipulation has exploded as a medium for artists to unleash their imaginations. Nadia Wicker is in on the action in her own special way, but she’s got an old-school ace up her sleeve… she used to be a makeup artist.

Her artistic portraits transform her and her models into surreal visions imbued with the details and textures that only elaborate makeup work can bring. Through her images, you can feel the trickle of the dripping paint and the scaly edges of the metal sparkles.

Beyond her beautifully twisted and haunting practical aesthetics, Nadia is also loaded with visual ideas. We reached out to her to chat about her work.

You started in makeup and so much of your art involves amazing transformations.

Photography and makeup are free spaces where you can create anything you want and change reality. I like to discover a new world each time.

A lot of your work is self-portraits. How do you manage both sides of the camera with so much delicate makeup and costume work?

Self-portraiture helped me a lot to understand photography and models, it’s an exercise I would recommend to everyone.

It might look difficult from the outside, but it’s actually maybe the most tolerant space to shoot in: you can do everything you want and make any errors you need to move the project forward. You just need to be sufficiently interested in each part of the creation of an image and you can play all the roles I think. Interest leads to learning!

You say that for you, inspiration comes without thinking, often with the help of music and a good mood. What kind of music helps you create?

Oh, that changes every day! I’m a monomaniac; I’ll listen to the same song on repeat.

Actually, I’m listening a lot to Chandelier by Sia, because it’s a really great song to be inspired for movements. And En Bas à Droite from Khod Breaker, a group I just discovered, is perfect to get into a strange, agitated, dark mood.

What was the most fun you have had on a shoot?

Some models seems to have a blind trust in me, I’m always surprised when they are okay with something really uncomfortable. One day, I threw black paint with a spoon on a model’s face from maybe just three metres away, so it wasn’t in a smooth way… It seemed so unpleasant and ridiculous, I couldn’t stop laughing!

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By Mark Gargarian, PicsArt staff writer.