ANYA TISDALE: BREAKING OUT OF THE BOX
WRITING AND ARTWORK BY GUEN DUNSTAN
NOVEMBER 9, 2020
Anya Tisdale (@anya.tisdale), a Boston native, has grown a dedicated following on Instagram for her avant-garde makeup looks. She is currently a third-year student at Tufts University pursuing a degree in film and media. This past March, quarantine allowed Anya to fully hone makeup as her preferred medium of self-expression when she began to take it more seriously and received a very positive reaction on social media. In conversation with Anya, she discusses her creative inspiration, the future of the beauty industry, and her experience as a black female artist.
When did you first start getting into makeup?
I actually didn’t really start to take makeup seriously until this past March. Once quarantine started, I had so much downtime at home and began practicing a lot, which is when I started getting a much more positive reaction on social media. I remember the first look that I did was a simple blue cloudy sky, looking back on it now it was not even that good, but since I was doing makeup every day, I quickly improved. It was then that I realized I really enjoyed makeup and was having a lot of fun creating looks.
What are your favorite makeup products? Do you use any materials that are not traditionally meant to be worn as makeup?
My favorite brands are Pat Mcgrath and Natasha Denona because their makeup is very editorial and avant-garde. They specialize in crazy duo-chrome chromatics, metallic foil, and basically anything that you wouldn’t wear on a typical everyday basis. I just love bright colorful makeup that is totally out of the box. I also use everyday materials and textiles; for example, I love playing with gold foil and any type of 3-D embellishments, like gold charms or rhinestones.
Where do you find inspiration for your makeup and art?
The first place I find inspiration is very broad and from everyday objects, like the fringe on my pillow or a flower that I picked outside. The second place I look to is the black beauty community, especially really talented black makeup artists that pull their ideas out of thin air and execute stunning looks.
What are 3 words you would use to describe the aesthetic of your work?
I was about to say ‘out of the box’, but that’s already three words! To me, out of the box means leaving the house in crazy makeup and looking different from everyone else, especially on my suburban campus.
As a creative person, what do you hope to convey or achieve through your work?
I really want people to feel comfortable with themselves. Growing up, I dabbled in makeup in high school and looked and acted very differently from the people around me. Oftentimes, I would be obliterated by my classmates for what I was wearing, so I eventually just stopped.
When I got to college and stopped caring about what others thought, I realized that I did not look dumb. I looked good, I felt good, and I became confident in what I was producing and creating. Now I feel certain of my existence in general, and that's what I want people to take away from what I do. At the end of the day, I am just a college student, and I’ve realized that the only thing that matters is loving yourself for who you are.
How have you grown as a creative over the years?
Right now I feel comfortable. When I first got to college, I was a biology major and thought that I was going to be a veterinarian. However, I realized that I hate science and am not good at it. Then, I switched to film and media, but I still did not know what I wanted to do within that realm.
I wanted to do something in the arts, but I did not know exactly what I wanted to do. I directed a few projects, and screen wrote some pieces, but still had not found my niche. Makeup became my niche over time, and that's what I have since devoted my energy to. Now, in the realm of art, that is what I feel the most comfortable with, and I am confident with the title of being a makeup artist.
Who are some role models that inspire you creatively?
My favorite makeup artists ever that I draw a lot of inspiration from are: @sweetmutuals, @pradaolic
, @adultsdrink, @deemakeupart, and @rowisingh.
What is the future of beauty?
I think the future of beauty is coming really soon. It’s going to be diversified and we will see a lot more representation of all people regardless of gender identity, race, size, and shape. The whole realm will be totally diverted from what we’ve seen of ‘typical models’ who you automatically know are models. We will see a lot more regular people who actually look like people, and to me, that is the most beautiful.
Can you tell me about your experience as a black female artist and how the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired you and your art?
There is a quote from Toni Cade Bambara, an amazing African American author: “The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.” I think that artists, no matter the discipline, should make the revolution accessible. Accessibility means putting it in people’s faces, getting attention, drawing both criticism and support and most importantly sparking conversation. Artists have an ability that no one else has - intertwining your work with the revolution. With the amount of attention that the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten this year, it has become my responsibility to find ways to use my platform to incorporate the sentiments of the black community into my work. Art should have meaning, and as an artist, you have a responsibility to put something of value and purpose into this world.
On a different note, this summer was incredibly traumatic for all black people, so it is also about taking your rest and refuge when you need it. Being relatively new to the beauty community, balancing rest with my creative work has been hard, but in the end, it adds to my development as a makeup artist.