Photography Janina Zais

meet the creative mind behind this viral hair art on instagram

From aliens to flames, Janina Zais is using heads as her canvas.

by Juule Kay
15 October 2019, 10:49am

Photography Janina Zais

This article originally appeared on i-D DE.

“Even as a child I was painting little teddy bears,” says Janina Zais about her early beginnings with the paintbrush. She was inspired by her father, an artist, whose varied work included decorating coffins. Her mother, meanwhile, signed her up with ballet classes when she was less than three years old, which also brought her a step closer to the work she does today. “We performed on really big stages and had to help do our own make-up every time,” she remembers. The older she got and the more theater performances she participated in, the more Janina's dream took shape -- even though being a hair and make-up artist was a bit beyond her imagination at the time.

“It didn’t take me a long time to do my own thing,” says Janina. After training as hairdresser and going to make-up school in Hamburg she touched down in Berlin a year ago, kind of by accident. Not a bad place to experiment and give things a try, it’s the people here who inspire her, her friends and her surroundings. “I felt creatively unchallenged in the industry,” admits Janina “I knew that something had to happen but couldn’t say exactly what it was.” With hindsight, it appears that Berlin was just what she needed.

Photo: Janina Zais

Through a mutual project with meme artist Tom Galle and the boys from Sucuk und Bratwurst she found her calling: painting heads. “Before, there was no overlap. I either did hair or I did make-up,” says Janina. “Now I found something that connects the dots.” Something Berlin’s creative scene is more than happy about, as it gets bilious green aliens and knife-sharp flame designs painted on the heads of its citizens almost every day.

Photo: Janina Zais

Janina is a self-described perfectionist. What seems to be ‘perfect’ in the eyes of most people is not good enough in hers. “It’s up to you,” she says. “All you need is to hustle your ass off every single day.” Of course, you need a bit of luck and have to know the right people, too -- but still, she says, remember to not give up that easily. “For a long time I really had problems to find my own creative language,” Janina adds. “But in the end it’s about finding something that is zeitgeisty.”

Foto: Janina Zais

Often people reach out to her with a specific idea but most of the time the Berlin based artist feels inspired by "weird stuff." Whether it’s some crazy Instagram posts, t-shirts prints or Pinterest: “I see something and think about how cool it would look on a head.” It’s not all about looking good though the message behind it is key. “I want to start making a statement,” explains Janina in the end. “I want to use the head as a platform or canvas to reveal political messages.” If we use our clothes to express who we really are, why don’t we use our heads, too?


Photo: Janina Zais
Photo: Janina Zais
Photo: Janina Zais

This article originally appearedon i-D DE.