Face painting: artist Gina Beavers on the best make-up tutorials

With her upcoming New York exhibition on hold, Beavers shares the make-up tutorials that inspire her bizarrely lush paintings

Gina Beavers’ 2019 exhbition at MoMA PS1. Her exhbition at New York’s Marianne Boesky Gallery is currently postponed.
(Image credit: press)

While outside remains off-limits, how about an Alice-like plunge into the rabbit hole of YouTube make-up tutorials? For the American painter Gina Beavers, the temptation of watching make-up tutorials is the ‘prime' step for her arrestingly colorful acrylic and foam paintings of lush lips, fierce nails, and piercing eyelashes.

She started working with make-up tutorials five years ago, when they began appearing on her feed. ‘I like the idea that the painting was drawing and painting itself and wanting you to like it,' says Beavers. ‘The paintings reflect more broadly the process of applying make-up as a way of self-making or self-determination.' 

Eyes painting

Gina Beavers, Smoky Eye, 2014

(Image credit: press)

Strokes of a powder brush over the cheeks or an eyeliner's precise tracing for Kahlo-esque impressions are not quite different from a painter’s gestures over canvas. In Beavers' The Artist’s Lips with Pollock, Kelly, and Kline (2020), for example, lip liners erratically embellish plump lips into quirky fashions, somewhere between a make-up glory and failure.

The New Jersey-based artist's upcoming exhibition at New York’s Marianne Boesky Gallery is currently postponed. She instead spends time studying two make-up videos on opposite ends of meticulous artistry.


Gina Beavers, Crystal Pink Lip, 2017.

(Image credit: press)

Beavers finds the autonomy in Korean make-up illusionist Dain Yoon’s 30-minute video of applying a floral arrangement over her chest and face remarkable, a statement, she considers, ‘more powerful than traditional body painters who use others as canvas.' Starting with contours of pink flowers on her chest, Yoon paints a green and pink floral bouquet above her shoulder with a hand-held mirror, gradually blending into the matching natural background in the company of an heroic tune.

If Yoon’s teachings suggest retreat, Drag Race Season 7 runner-up Pearl Liaison’s education method aims to dazzle. Also half hour in length, the reality TV star’s ‘What To Do / What Not To Do' tutorial breaks down the painstaking steps of putting on drag glam, demonstrating on two sides of her face the subtleties between the good and the bad. ‘Some people see make-up as restrictive or frivolous, but drag performers show how it can be liberating and life-saving,' explains Beavers and recommends the video for its easy approach to vogue trends, such as contouring.



Osman Can Yerebakan is a New York-based art and culture writer. Besides Wallpaper*, his writing has appeared in the Financial Times, GQ UK, The Guardian, Artforum, BOMB, Airmail and numerous other publications. He is in the curatorial committee of the upcoming edition of Future Fair. He was the art and style editor of Forbes 30 Under 30, 2024.