Photography by Redrum Collaboration
Hair by Miss Rockwell DeVil
Gown by Ashley Rose Couture Designs
Kelly Eden is an alternative model, fine artist, and a former tattoo artist. She is from the metropolitan Denver area, but is now based in West Hollywood, California. This interview/pictorial was featured in Sinical 15. Print copies can be purchased here.
Danny Stygion: When did you know you were an artist?
Kelly Eden: I was engaged in art at a very young age, it was something I was always attracted to. It was like I was born with a natural passion and dedication for artistic expression. Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with drawing and painting. I would always get into trouble at school for drawing all over everything- the desk, my shoes, my homework, my arms.
Danny Stygion: What inspires your art work?
Kelly Eden: That’s a good question because there’s not much in this world that doesn’t inspire my art. I usually paint portraits of my friends and incorporate details of their history with hidden elements. I love to tell stories but I also like to leave enough open for the viewer to interpret their own meaning. I always paint figures because I love to use human emotion to express myself. Most of all, I’m in love with juxtapose. Images and themes that contrast each other are very sexy to me. It could be as simple as chiaroscuro lighting or the heroine falling in love with the villain. There’s something about it that pulls my heart strings. I enjoy exploring the deeper psychological meanings of my “addiction” to juxtapose.
Danny Stygion: Which painters influenced your work?
Kelly Eden: Some of my closest friends have inspired my technique greatly. My tattoo artist, Nikko Hurtado is a perfect example- I’m always inspired when I visit his gallery. I also love the work of Michael hussar, Kevin Llewelen, Kukula, Casey Baugh, Will Cotton, etc.
Danny Stygion: Can you explain your painting process?
Kelly Eden: I always work in layers. My painting techniques are very similar to my makeup techniques. I’ll start by mixing a dark grey gesso as my foundation. I like working off grey because it’s the one shade that shows color purity. Then I’ll do a light wash of raw umber and Indian yellow to map out value or shape. After that’s dry I’ll start blocking in color and scuffle it together.
Danny Stygion: What type of brushes and paints do you use when painting?
Kelly Eden: I mostly work with oils but I use acrylics now and then for an under painting. I actually use a lot of my old makeup brushes for painting. Working with so many different makeup companies really paid off because brushes are VERY expensive.
Danny Stygion: How did you get started in alternative modeling?
Kelly Eden: My first shoot was supposed to be simple portraits for my Company’s online website. I was a full time Tattoo artist back when I was 18 years old, still finishing college. My shop hired a photographer to take quick candids of the artists for our profiles. What should have taken 3 minutes turned into two hours of shooting. It happened naturally- the photographer and I were both on the same page creatively. I wasn’t nervous at all, it was almost like second nature to me. Again, when I started my career it was just for fun.
Danny Stygion: What do you think makes a model stand apart from others?
Kelly Eden: Models come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and styles. The ones that stand out are the ones that can tell a story with their eyes. It’s not about being “pretty” or “perfect”, it’s about being an actress in a static image.
Danny Stygion: From a model’s perspective, what do you think is the most important aspect of a photo?
Kelly Eden: I think the most important aspect is the visual evidence of passion. It’s a model’s job to convey emotion and concept through her poses and facial expressions. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a model is, if she looks like a deer in headlights in every photo; she’s not doing her job.
Danny Stygion: Can you talk about some of your tattoos?
Kelly Eden: On my leg, I have a portrait as David Bowie and Jennifer Connolly from Jim Henson’s “The Labyrinth”. This was my all time favorite movie growing up, I was obsessed with the storyline and endearing characters. I’m a huge fan of all things fantasy and androgynous villains.
My arm is an arrangement of makeup around a realistic Barbie portrait. Aside of my obvious passion for makeup, Barbie was a pretty big deal in my life. My sister and I spent every summer playing with barbies in a ditch when our parents dragged us to my brothers baseball games. My sister and I are really close, playing with dolls was one of the many ways we connected on an almost spiritual level. It was our escape. We went on countless adventures with Barbie for many years. I still like to stop by the Barbie aisle in the stores, just to see what she’s up to.
I have a portrait of Lady Gaga. I’ve always been a fan of her music and what she stood for as an artist. I always admired her determination and willpower. She’s someone I can respect because she can fearlessly push the envelope and make a statement. She’s a fellow cartoon girl, I can relate to her because she fabricates her own persona and character too.
I would have to say my most significant tattoo is the portrait on my shoulder of my mom when she was 5 years old. In 1964 she was featured in the very first easy bake oven commercial by Kenner toys. She was also printed on the box, which is what I got tattooed. My mom is really special to me. She’s a wonderful woman who would sacrifice anything for her family. This year she lost her husband and her mom. I wish I could do more then a tattoo to show her how much I love her.
Danny Stygion: Apart from painting and modeling... what other things are you into?
Kelly Eden: I love to cosplay. I’ve been an anime fanatic since elementary school and had a fascination with making it “real”. I’m learning how to sew and craft full outfits together using various materials. I love to do high fashion, artistic takes on the characters I cosplay. I have a really wonderful group of friends who dress up with me at anime conventions at events. It’s so much fun!
Danny Stygion: Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to mention?
Kelly Eden: I’m focusing more on my art this year. So, I have some big art shows coming up that I’m really excited about. In June I have my first showing in La at Copro gallery. On July 5th I’ll be showing all new work at the “moon crisis” show at Rothicka gallery. I’ll also be showing there during the art crawl on August 9th.
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