Vagus Magazine Fall 2021 Feature Story
Martha Butterworth is a makeup artist and nature enthusiast who explores organic looks through her use of flower petals as lip, eye, or face accessories.
Her makeup artistry is not limited to solely the face, but rather extends to the ears, hands, and other non-conventional body parts for makeup.
When did you begin to express your talent as a makeup artist?
I qualified as a Makeup Artist in 2016. I originally qualified as a Graphic Designer after doing four years at Art college, but it wasn’t what I’d hoped it’d be and didn’t give me the creative freedom I craved. Over the last few years, I had become increasingly interested in fashion editorials from a photographic and makeup perspective and felt it was something I wanted to do. So I took myself back to college and did Beauty Therapy followed by theatrical special effects, media hair and makeup.
Why are you interested in this field of art?
I am genuinely interested in art. I really enjoyed everything at college and found it difficult to choose a specialist option. I love to draw and paint and love working with colour and using 3D elements, especially from nature. I liked the idea of using the face and body as a canvas and seeing how makeup can be used in a positive way to express someone’s identity.
What is it like to bring an idea to reality and see it translated onto skin?
Exciting, frustrating sometimes, and never dull.
Many of your lip looks are noticeably glossy. Why do you choose the ‘glossy’ look over a ‘matte’, ‘metallic’, or ‘satin’ look for example?
I find that putting a gloss over a look, brings it to life behind the camera. Gloss brings out the colour and details. I usually photograph both matte and gloss versions, but after editing, I often prefer the glossy looks.
Why do you decorate lips with flower petals?
I find inspiration everywhere, but Mother Nature is particularly inspiring. I like organic shapes and like to experiment with texture.
If you had to choose between doing lip or eye makeup, which would you choose?
I like both, but it depends on my model really. One of my regular models has lovely full lips, so they are a joy to work with.
What are some of your favourite products/brands to use?
I use a lot of Infinity Glass gloss (Linda Hallberg Cosmetics) and Clear Lipglass (Mac Cosmetics). I love Egyptian Magic, it’s so natural and gentle on the skin. I use that to create dewy glass skin and as an alternative to gloss (not so sticky). There are too many brands to mention, so I won’t try. Needless to say, I’m a magpie where makeup is concerned.
What accessories have you decorated with?
Rhinestones, flowers, leaves, skeleton leaves, temporary tattoos, nail decals, pearls, literally anything that takes my eye. I am constantly collecting.
Why do you paint on ears?
The idea of extending makeup, decoration, and patterns on areas other than the usual eyelids and lips really interests me. Rules are there to be bent and broken.
Complimentary eye look to ‘Dragon’s Tongue’
Forget Me Not
Victorian Easter Greetings
You’ve painted on hands as well. How does your creative process differ when doing makeup on a hand vs a face?
I started painting on my own hand during the Covid lockdowns when I could no longer work with models. I love painting and I find it a very immersive experience. I totally relax and get absorbed in the process. Perfect therapy. My hand paintings are a lot more time-consuming than most of the face makeup looks, but I enjoy doing them.
Fish often appear throughout your work, out of all creatures, why choose this one?
I absolutely love drawing and painting fish. The organic shapes and curves work beautifully on the curves of the human face and body.
Have you considered doing full-body art?
I would love to do some full-body art. I haven’t had access to a model for long enough to create anything that time-consuming.
The Ripple Effect
[Inspired by Childe Hassam]
Late Afternoon, New York, Winter, 1900
What is it like to see your art develop over the years?
I am never fully happy with anything I create. I always look over everything I do with a critical eye. Continually striving for better.
Where do you hope to see your art over the next few years? What do you envision for your work in the future?
I would love to collaborate more with other creatives. Do more fashion editorial work and generally make work that inspires others. It’s not ‘work’ if you love it, is it?
In the process of creating work, what have you learned about yourself?
I am passionate, determined, and I am never happier than when I’m creating. I’m a frustrated perfectionist, and too self-critical.
You can view more of Martha's work on her Instagram profile!
This interview was originally published in Issue 3 of Vagus Magazine: Restoration & Elevation (October 2021).