Photo via Instagram

meet the artist whose eerie beauty looks are haunting instagram

Pyro Muse draws inspiration from the Victorian era, porcelain dolls, and antique treasures she finds in secondhand shops.

by Rolien Zonneveld
22 July 2019, 11:00am

Photo via Instagram

This article originally appeared on i-D NL.

If you scroll through Pyro Muse’s Instagram, you might need a moment to figure out whether you’re looking at paintings or photos. The parchment-like texture of pale faces with powdered cheeks gives the impression of paintings, but appearances can be deceiving. Pyro Muse takes photos of herself, after applying intense makeup that sometimes takes four to six hours. The 18-year-old only started sharing her portraits on Instagram last year, but she now has a fanbase of over 20k followers.

Pyro is half Dutch, half Chilean. As a child she moved to another country every three or four years before she recently settled in The Hague. "I have always seen it as an enormous privilege to be exposed to so many different cultures, religions and beliefs." She gets her inspiration from treasures she finds in secondhand stores and antique shops, which she also uses to decorate her house with: antique mirrors, angelic statues, deer antlers, animal skulls, Victorian portraits, and porcelain dolls, to name a few things.

Her emotional state also has a major influence on her creations. “I’ve started to notice that my emotions are becoming more and more visible in my portraits. To me this means that I’m on the right track," she says. Her fans seem to share this view, as shown by a comment on a portrait with milky white tears and her mouth taped shut. "You made a look that shows exactly what I am feeling," wrote one user.

Although her account is highly regarded, Pyro has ambivalent feelings about Instagram. On the one hand, it's a platform where she can share her creations with like-minded people; on the other hand it creates constant pressure and competition with other makeup artists. “I often got the idea that I wasn’t performing as well as others. Instagram has motivated me to progressively refine my looks, though. So, as long as I keep seeing it as some sort of diary where I can collect all my creations and reflect on myself, it’s a great platform for me," she says.

Applying makeup is something she finds therapeutic – she prefers to take her time and do it properly. But her preparations are never the same. “At times all I need are some keywords that I wrote down from my dreams when I was still half asleep. But sometimes I make an extensive list of necessities, sketch out several ideas, or experiment with hairstyles and positions of the main accessories before I get started. All in all, it takes quite some time, so I try not to force it when I'm busy or tired.”

Her looks might not necessarily remind you of the colorful, glitzy, and sometimes campy world of drag, yet it helped her develop her ideas. “Drag queens were the first artists I was exposed to who experimented with dramatic makeup," she says. "Their creations offered a glimpse into the limitless possibilities of beauty looks and acted as a stepping stone in my process of self-exploration. It made me want to explore all my crazy ideas and skills.”

She describes Pyro Muse as a “fundamental way of self-expression.” “I don’t want to label or over-explain it. I want to allow everybody to project their own perspective, emotions, and views on my work.”

When asked if her looks can be interpreted as Gothic or Victorian, she says: “Powdered skin is a recurring element in my latest posts. The looks resemble a porcelain doll, a ghost, or a marble statue, which inspired me to use elements from the Victorian or Elizabethan era, such as lace accessories. By playing with these references I’ve managed to find my own style, but that doesn’t mean that my style is fixed. I’ll always keep looking for ways to improve and develop.”

This article originally appeared on i-D NL.

makeup artist
pyro muse