this make up artist recreates iconic vines on her eyelids
"Hurricane Katrina? More like Hurricane Tortilla!"
It was a gloomy winter day when short-form video platform Vine announced it would be exiting the app store only three years after its initial release. Though its glory was short-lived, the app was a verifiable cultural phenomenon. Creators produced six-second-long looping videos that have become ubiquitous memes and beloved reaction gifs. The app lives on through hour-long YouTube compilations, and Vine's stars moved onto bigger platforms to create content in different formats, but it's still fondly remembered Internet wide.
Courtney Kennedy is channeling that love for Vine's iconic memes into a format that isn't YouTube compilations. The 21-year-old Australian make up artist immortalises the platform's beloved six-second videos in a series of intricate beauty looks. Courtney, or @gothwok as she’s known to her 112k Instagram followers, has quickly established her trademark makeup look: the Vine collage on eyelids.
“It sounds silly,” she says, “but Vine is something that everyone loves. No matter who you are, vines are the funniest thing, and everyone can appreciate and love them. Most importantly, I love them.” Courtney’s looks are a mixture of powder shadow hazily blended on her eyelid, rhinestones that appear to be haphazardly glued to her face, shiny eye gloss, and meticulously cut out letters that make up different Vine catch phrases. “I’ll watch 25-minute-long Vine compilations on YouTube and one will always stick out,” she explains when I enquire about the creative process of picking a Vine. “I’ll go with whatever is funniest to me at the time.”
Instagram’s grid makes the pictures look quite large, but working on such a tiny canvas is time consuming. “The makeup itself probably takes, like, half an hour, but cutting those freaking letters out takes hours,” Courtney explains. She cuts them out from magazines and old newspapers, and gets “very picky with the letters some times”.
Her first picture on @gothwok was posted last year February. That some month she celebrated 5k followers. She started gaining followers in earnest at the beginning of 2019. Even though she’s amassed over 100,000 followers now and she receives PR packages from the likes of Anastasia Beverly Hills and ColourPop, she doesn’t see herself as an influencer. “I see myself as me,” she says. “It's as if I’ve got 112,000 friends.”
Courtney’s style is very different from what dominates Instagram's beauty feed. It is most known for clown-like colour correcting, blinding, glittering highlight, InstaBaddie winged liner, or chiselled, contoured cheeks. More recently the no-makeup-makeup trend has been flourishing thanks to brands like Glossier. Girls with perfect, glowing skin and freckles are making more frequent appearances. But what Courtney calls the “alternative” genre is yet to see its official renaissance.
“I’m so into weird makeup,” she says. “A girl at work described my looks as a calculated mess, and I agree. In my head I know how I want the mess on my eyelid to look. I love chaotic, bold and vibrant. I started wearing makeup when I was 17 because I was really insecure, but it wasn’t anything extravagant. I didn’t start doing alternative makeup until last year, when I started to get really into it. I have no idea what inspired me to become a bit weird with it. I’ve always followed alternative makeup artists as opposed to people like Tati Westbrook. I’d never watch like a Tati video or anything similar. It was always more the different, ‘freer’ type of makeup that I followed.”
In fact that free DIY subculture that is currently blossoming on Instagram is something Courtney credits with improving her own self-image. “It’s silly,” she says. “But when I first started posting makeup I was over-editing my skin and trying to make things look perfect. Vine helps me take this direction with my makeup of, like, who honestly cares? How your skin looks, or how messy a look is – it’s really not that deep at all.”
For now though, her intricate looks are a passion project and a hobby. Courtney is currently working in fast food and has no idea where her account is going to go. “It blew up so fast,” she says. “I’m kind of just going to work every day, coming home, doing an eye look, posting. It’s the same routine.”
However, it’s clear what her priorities are: doing what she loves, and fostering a community of other Vine loving, contour-hating beauty stans. Courtney constantly engages with followers on her captions, asking about their lives and replying to every comment. “I want to make sure everyone’s pottering along okay,” she says. “Everyone is so cool and supportive. I got to give it back.”