Identity acceptance through artistic transformation.
WRITTEN, PHOTOGRAPHED AND MAKEUP BY TYLER JUDSON
Self-portraits are my way of escape. The ability to turn myself into anything I want makes me feel confident — something I never feel when walking around in normal life.
Whether the new face I create is of this world or beyond, beautiful or ugly, masculine or feminine, I’m able to transform my reality into something entirely different. With each look, I’m able to create a character and let myself feel the fantasy of the mask that I have full control over.
When I started taking self-portraits, I was concerned about what others would think. Growing up in a small town, my neighbors believed it was weird to spend hours on a few pictures. They thought the way I painted my face was disgusting — because in their words, “Boys shouldn’t wear makeup.” As I took more photos, I felt my skill and confidence rising. I was excited to share what I created — craving the love, questions, comments and backlash that came with each concept.
On social media, I enjoy making people stop and stare curiously at the picture in front of them, instead of scrolling past it mindlessly like everything else. I want to give my presence on social media a purpose. This way, I test my creative limits, take inspiration from other artists of all mediums and apply it to my work. Being able to put on these masks not only helps me see life through new eyes, but also makes me love myself more. I learned to love every part of my body and gained new confidence in myself.
The ability to create an entirely new persona with the stroke of a brush and immortalize it in a photo is one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt. And, while afterward, the character may fade down the drain, the feeling of accomplishment it leaves behind never will.