By Margarita Hirapetian
Artist Kelsey Kollar’s work is absolutely mind-blowing. Lips aren’t the easiest canvas to work on, and lipstick isn’t as easy to apply as it may seem. Somehow, though, Kelsey has conquered this medium and turned it into a visual feast for the eyes. And you really can’t look at her work without wondering “how does she do it?!” Talent and hard work and never giving up are just some of the reasons why she excels at what she does, and of course, passion. How else can you explain the intricacy of her work, like the painting of Jafar from Aladdin for her Disney Villains collaboration? We can’t lie – it looks better than the actual Disney animation. If you think we’re exaggerating, just take a look at her Instagram (@kelseylipsz) and see for yourself! Other elaborate work includes a pixelated lip featuring various nude colors drawn in perfect little squares and a glittery blue striped design that is so precise it looks like she used a ruler. She has talent in droves.
Kelsey has always been an artist, constantly taking art classes and AP art throughout high school. From early on, she was interested in small details and how to perfect them, which has clearly proved immensely significant in her current line of work. Though she was always excellent at drawing, she also had an “amazing teacher and mentor who refined my skills and taught me about color theory and line work and design.” When she started college, she chose a path in art that would later turn into a decent career and thus picked graphic design. She has a Bachelor’s in Fine Art for graphic design from Towson University, and since graduation she has focused on lip art as her preferred medium. When it comes to that medium, however, she is self-taught and continuing to learn along the way. Her Instagram was started at the suggestion of a friend. If you scroll all the way down, you can see she started out doing swatches before moving on to elaborate and gorgeous lip designs that truly boggle the mind with their skill and creativity.
Instagram has proven useful in many ways, in fact, as Kelsey often peruses it for inspiration. She says, “Instagram is an enormous platform for artists and we have galleries at our fingertips so it's impossible not to feel inspired after spending time on it! I get most of ideas from endless hours of scrolling through Instagram and seeing other art, whether it's other lip art, eye art that I'd like to recreate on my lips, or just inspiring patterns.” If you’re into makeup at all, you may have noticed lip art is increasingly popular these days. This is obviously good news for Kelsey, who has over eleven thousand followers on Instagram, and she explains the popularity thusly, “Lip art is relatively new and that makes it exciting to viewers. I think people respond so well to it because they recognize how difficult it is to draw on such a small, uneven surface, and because it's on someone's face who's wearing it like lipstick it's fun and unique.” It’s definitely fun, and not so different from nail art, in that it makes you want to grab all your lipstick and attempt some fun designs and styles for yourself. For Kelsey, this is also significant as she says, “I put a lot of work into making my pictures look the best they can so at the end of the day, if [followers] love what they see and maybe it inspires them to try lip art or even be confident enough to try a bold new lip color, I've done my job.”
Though she may make it look easy, Kelsey admits there was definitely a learning curve when she first started: “I started with simple swatches and a crappy camera and slowly built my way up to detailed work and improved lighting and camera (which makes all the difference!). I'm still working on improving my detailed work because it takes a lot of patience and experience through learning myself and the shape of my lips and the wrinkles in them and how to compensate to get a straight line. It most certainly does not come easy to me, and though I've had experience with illustration my whole life, drawing on lips is a whole other animal but just as fun as drawing on paper!” Luckily, though, Kelsey is full of ideas and has yet to hit a creative block, which can sometimes plague many artists. She keeps a long list of ideas and is constantly updating it. The most rewarding aspect of Kelsey’s work is all the “amazing followers and friends who genuinely support me and send me the kindest words.” She adds, “I never expected to make friends when I started this journey. I love the people I've met who I've either befriended or who have just sent me a kind message or look up to my work. It makes me feel amazing and makes the hard work so worth it!”
Still, life isn’t without its challenges for Kelsey, and most of it has to do with social media. She explains, “Maintaining a consistent presence and pretty much everything other than creating the art itself [is a challenge]. Because creating art is the fun part of it, I LOVE taking photos and retouching them, it's my zen! But maintaining my page, writing captions, keeping up with the Instagram algorithm, can be almost overwhelming sometimes. In a perfect world I could just do the art, post it and people love it, but that's not the case.”
Regardless, Kelsey is doing so well and her future plans include starting her own makeup line that stands out in that it’s educational. Future themes may also include astronomy so definitely look out for that on her page. Follow her on Instagram (@kelseylipsz) to get a daily dose of wonder!