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We’ve featured some impressive body art on Oddity Central, like Luca Luce’s face-painted optical illusions or the colorful chest artworks of Georgina Ryland, but nothing quite like the detailed lip art of Ryan Kelly. The talented makeup artist paints tiny yet intricate portraits of celebrities and popular characters on her lips.
Looking at the kind of detail Ryan Kelly is able to produce on such a tiny and unusual canvas, it’s hard to believe that her lip art started out as a joke. Four years ago, Ryan and her husband were on the couch watching Katy Perry’s Superbowl halftime show, when their attention was caught by one of her dancers, who later went viral as “Left Shark”. He was fumbling through the choreography, but looked cool doing it, and they both found him hilarious. It was the makeup artist’s husband who suggested that she paint a shark on her lips and the fins on her fingers so she could puppet her very own Left Shark performance. She did just that and posted a photo of her facial makeover on social media. The response was overwhelmingly positive and inspired her to delve deeper into lip art.
Photo: Ryan Kelly/Instagram
If people thought Ryan Kelly’s version of Left Shark was impressive four years ago, they should really check out her more recent creations, because they’re on a whole other level. While her designs have been getting ever smaller, covering only her lips, they’ve also gotten insanely detailed at the same time. For example, her portraits of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in ‘A Star Is Born’ looks almost like a scaled down photo of them.
Before her daughter was born, Kelly used to spend hours on end free-hand drawing her tiny masterpieces, but she’s since had to come up with a way to speed up the process, so she could spend more time with her toddler. Luckily, she discovered transfer paper, which allows her to draw the design on paper before adjusting the size to fit her lips and transferring it on her “kisser”. She still has to paint the whole thing by hand, though, so it’s not as easy as some people think.
“It’s funny, I think sometimes people think using what is essentially a stencil is an easy way out. Truthfully, it’s a much longer process from start to finish. It’s just easier to break up throughout the day,” Ryan Kelly told Yahoo. “I try to freehand as much as I can, but when I became a mom, I promised myself that I would continue to make art a priority in my life. This new process is how I’ve been able to keep that promise.”
The makeup artist spends at least two hours on each of her projects, and almost always relies on water-activated face paint, because creamy lipstick just isn’t suited for drawing faces and tiny details.
From intricate portraits of celebrities like Rihanna, to comics characters like Deadpool or Aquaman, and even popular internet memes, it seems like there is nothing Ryan Kelly can’t paint on her lips.