Passionate, caring, hard working, determined and beautiful: meet Viktorija Bowers, a self taught Croatian make-up artist living in pulsating New York City. She is overwhelmingly approachable and we connect instantly. Her style is very defined: true black, accentuated by her bird-skull engagement ring and astonishing red lips. We are backstage at Style360 hosted by ELLE at the Metropolitan Pavilion; surrounded by models, make-up artists, photographers and stylist – I tune out the noise and watch as Viktorija take a seat in front of her workplace. Wading in foundation, lipsticks and blush by mirrors and lights, she looks up at me from her chair with what I can only describe as absolute focus. I’m deeply honored - and I guess it will come as no surprised that she has perfect, flawless skin, since she is a make-up artist and all that jazz!
Being a child of a hairstylist and growing up in the beauty business definitely had something to do with her choice of career. Viktorija is also a painter, and her love of art drew her towards make-up and this unique way of self expression. I ask her why she became a make-up artist to begin with?
- I have become a make-up artist because I love art, and I love self expression in the sense of color and conveying a feeling. And when I was a little girl I would always say that I wanna be paid to do something that I love, and I think I have achieved my dream, she tells me very passionately. Growing up in the theater and having acting as her first passion, she tells me that when she picked up those make-up brushes, it was just meant to be. It almost sounds romantic, if you ask me. A dream come true. Today, she has a pretty impressive track-record and has worked with Cosmopolitan, Vogue Nippon, L’Officiel, Diane Von Furstenberg and Marie Claire China, just to mention some!
We are behind the scenes of Abbey Dawn by Avril Lavigne. The show starts in less than forty minutes, and surrounding us is a fully operative and organized chaos. The most important thing right now?
- It is making sure that you keep an eye on your tasks. And of course it helps when you are supported by an amazing team. I would not be here if I didn't have a great team. And I'm very grateful for each and every one of them, they are doing an amazing job. And that makes me a little calmer and a little more confident, knowing that they have my back.
Viktorija hasn’t worked with Avril Lavigne before, but is in fact the key make-up artist for the entire Style360 extravaganza. Majorly cool, if you ask me. She did the Bebe show just prior to this one, which I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of. I actually underlined “great styling and make-up” in my notes, which is kind of funny! It just shows how versatile Viktorija really is, and that even though you never get to see what goes on behind the scenes of fashion shows – key artists can most definitely make it or break it.
Inspired by artists like Brian Froud, Viktorija finds beauty and inspiration though the aesthetics of darkness. She is of course influenced by her own style when it comes to her work and finds a darker Gothic approach very appealing – but she also thinks airy make-up ads are interesting to work with - especially since they bring food on the table. She's most definitely true to herself, and think she can do just about everything there is when it comes to make-up. She loves the variety that comes with her work! It's all about not limiting yourself, but seeing what you can bring to the table - with your own twist, she explains.
- I would say that I'm not a slave to trends, I kind of march to the beat of my own drums. And I actually like a lot of dark ascetics, so much so that an Italian magazine called me the dark fairy of make-up. I like fairies, and dark imagery. I love finding beauty in darkness, and transcending it into trends.
And I'm sure you can guess who her favorite designers are? Artists like Alexander McQueen, Garreth Pugh and Rick Owen. She also thinks the classic approach of Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg and Burberry are great - especially the leather-jackets from Burberry. Why am I not surprised?
I decided to pull out the big guns, without revealing my own identity and ask her what she thinks of fashion bloggers.
- I think they are the "new pulse", she tells me enthusiastically! Viktorija explains that she think bloggers share real opinions through untainted channels with fresh tendencies and bring new talent to light. Being a blogger, I cannot disagree. She is clearly stating facts, only emphasized by the reality that I’m interviewing a hugely talented artist that I had never heard of before this afternoon. It soon becomes clear to me that Viktorija has thought about this particular subject before.
How do you think bloggers affect fashion trends?
- I think it adds a more fresh approach to trends. Because, we have a tendency to grow in a rut as an industry. We repeat and recycle, but we like to call it new, but when you have an independent blogger that isn't necessarily under anybodys thumb, they can call you out. And they are also responsible for bringing new talent to light, that could be silenced by the politics of big magazines. They can land the voice of people that don’t have connections.
Her must-have can’t-live-without agent, Brandi Benson, is in charge of her day to day work, and when Viktorija is not busy being a key artist - she mostly do a lot of advertising. Good advertisements, if you ask me.
- I do lots of print and advertising, so my day is.. every day is different, and that is the beauty of my job. I get to work with different crews and I have different assignments that I'm able to add my twists to. And just be creative! You can't ask for a better job, it is just an amazing opportunity and a great blessing, she tells me. I had a look at her website and I definitely love her personal style and overall expression, especially the darker approach, which may not come as a surprise.
I’m of course mesmerized by her A+ personality and admittedly star struck to be in her presence. Viktorija’s life is never boring and she thinks it’s absolutely amazing. Earlier in her career, she used to do a lot of catwalk shows, but took a little break from it all to get her focus back.
- I said to myself that the next time that I work at a fashion week I will be the key artist and my dream came true, she tells me smiling. We should most definitely bring her to Scandinavia, but only if she can be the key make-up artist!
We head out to the catwalk to check out how the rehearsal is going. The choreographer is screaming; "lots of energy girls!" as we walk across the room. We are standing at the end of the catwalk watching the models strut their stuff and Viktorija is checking to see if there is anything that needs to be changed. There is! The models are too shiny! Viktorija is doing a greasy, black eye look, with a matte foundation – and this look definitely need some tweaks, according to her.
- That’s what rehearsals are for, she tells me without looking at me, completely concentrated on the task at hand.
Viktorija has been a great subject to work with this afternoon, and gives me the perfect finish to a great talk just as we’re about to wrap it up:
- I am very much aware, that I have walked this path, not alone: that I have people that help me, from the first photographers that ever gave me a chance - I will never forget them. I will never stop being grateful. Never forget people that helped you, no matter how high you climb - remember that!
For more pictures, information and inspiration; check out Viktorija's website and blog!
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me, Viktorija - now I'm the one that's forever grateful! It was an absolute pleasure meeting you. Thank you!
I'm wearing Vatle knitted sweater from the menswear collection, thrifted belt, Anna Sheffield custom made necklace and JC shoes. Profil picture from Viktorija website. Editorial pictures: The Dope Show (Viktorijas first) by Michael David Adams for City Magazine. Last picture taken by sweet Meg.