this 19-year-old takes make-up art to a whole new level
Cupid effortlessly transforms latex human ears, Swarovski brooches and damp baby hair into the wildest of beauty looks.
20 June 2019, 6:00am
Photography Cupid's Vault
This article originally appeared on i-D NL
What links purple orchids, latex human ears and Swarovski brooches? These are all objects that has glued on his face. The 19-year-old New Yorker has been posting the wildest 3D beauty creations on his Instagram, Cupid’s Vault, which has brought him a good number of fans. And he only started the account last year.
When I get in touch, Cupid writes that his passion began to develop three years ago, with the discovery of make-up. “When I was sixteen I started experimenting with make-up, using my sister’s old lipsticks that she kept under the sink. I would hide in the bathroom for hours and try all the colours, always making sure that the door was locked securely. Before I went outside, I would thoroughly wipe off my face. I didn't want anybody to know what I had been doing in there."
Slowly he started buying more and more make-up of his own and began to try out 3D looks that incorporated jewellery and flowers. That's when he decided to share his work on Instagram. “I’ve been posting since 2016, but my account used to be private -- until a year ago. I wanted my account to be an intimate place: hence the name Cupid's Vault. But the more I developed my art, the more courageous I felt about showing my creations to the outside world.”
Cupid felt "reborn" after setting his account to public: “At first I mainly took self-portraits. I used bright lightning and pumped up the saturation of my photos. Somehow this symbolised what I was experiencing at the time. I was in some sort of embryonic stage, stuck in my own world, desperately trying to reach out. The only way I could do that was by screaming -- screaming through my visual work. But I wasn't ready for anyone to hear me yet. Now I am.”
Recently, he started sharing his work with the real world too -- like when he stepped out to get coffee creamer wearing red lenses, fake piercings and hand-crafted metal constructions. “I feel at my best, when I wear the looks that I post on Instagram. Having things on my face is like wearing a second skin. I want to give my real skin some rest, though. That’s why my basic makeup routine consists of 'simple' designs such as tribals, plus some fake piercings, lip gloss and eyebrow gel."
Extravagant make-up doesn’t necessarily equal an exuberant personality -- it’s a misconception about him that many of his followers share, says Cupid: “I take loads of selfies and I have a clear online presence, but in real life I’m pretty introverted. I don’t like talking about myself at all. I simply take pleasure in the act of creation, doing my make-up and preparing looks.”
Creating the final image is only a fraction of the creative process that is so central to his passion. Before even touching his face with a make-up brush, Cupid spends hours collecting jewellery at flea markets and second-hand stores, making his own accessories out of old earrings and necklaces, and searching flower and craft stores for unusual flowers and plastic insects.
Cupid lets his mood decide which items he takes home -- his creations are a direct translation of his feelings. He began to incorporate flowers into his work around Valentine’s Day: “Suddenly I realised that nobody had ever bought me flowers, so I decided to decorate myself and turn my face into the bouquet I had never received."
But his work is more than just an outlet for his feelings. It reflects his greatest sources of inspiration: art, fashion, and bizarre internet phenomena. One of his looks was a tribute to Thierry Mugler's infamous wet look dress that Kim Kardashian wore to the MET gala, combined with his iconic Chimera dress plus Cupid's fascination for conspiracy theories about reptilian humanoids.
His advice for any aspiring make-up artists? "Don’t be afraid to fail, never limit yourself and make sure you invest in a good eyelash glue." Coming from someone who knows how to glue a complete bouquet on his face and pull it off oh-so gracefully, this is a lesson to live by.