10 Questions with Kicki Yang Zhang, The Berlin-Based Artist Using Her Face as a Canvas
Why limit art to paper? Kicki Yang Zhang realised this from a young age and soon after, her face became her canvas. Zhang grew her following on YouTube and now has over 330 thousand followers on Instagram who are invested in her mesmerising artistic skills.
Living in Berlin, her home city acts as a huge inspiration for her. “I think Berlin is the most international and diverse city in Germany and talking to people coming from all these different places gives me a lot of inspiration,” she says. Appreciating the direct and honest nature of the Berlin locals and living in a city that is not too expensive leaves her room to be more creative.
Her aesthetic is versatile and unique, being able to pull off blue, orange, red and platinum blonde hair is a skill she also possesses. Zhang uses Instagram as a positive platform to share her own feelings and experiences on issues such as racism and offering her support to the Black Lives Matter movement, but also a place for others to seek inspiration and to showcase her makeup and fashion looks.
When it comes to her own fashion inspiration she, like most of us, looks to social media. “I spend most of the time looking at random stuff on my explore page, but generally I just listen to my gut and wear what I feel comfortable in,” she says. Zhang has worked with major fashion brands such as Burberry and Gucci, recently creating an eye makeup look for a Gucci beauty campaign. She brings her own originality to anything she works on.
The makeup artist’s looks range from full-face creations, based on the work of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, to intricate eyelid art of female figures and more recently, a look inspired by iconic artist Keith Haring. “I think it’s cool when you reach a status as an artist when people immediately recognize your work,” she explains.
There’s room for us all to be a bit more adventurous, whether that’s with our fashion choices or a little drawing of Kermit the Frog underneath your eye. To help you out, we asked Kicki Yang Zhang 10 questions and her answers are full of tips, tricks and recommendations. Dive in.
1. Where’s your favourite place to go in Berlin?
“On a rooftop close to Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg during a thunderstorm to see how the lightning hits the TV tower.”
2. What’s your favourite and least favourite makeup trend?
“Favourite: Colorful and bright eyeliner. Least favourite: Heavy contouring”
3. If you had to have one of your makeup looks tattooed on you permanently, which would it be?
“Definitely one of the Chinese signs I did, or any look which was outlines of naked women on my face. I think that would make a great tattoo.”
4. What’s something you want everyone to know about you?
“I’m actually tall even though I’m Asian.”
5. Do you prefer doing makeup on your own face or others?
“Definitely on my own face. Sitting still for a long time can be really hard and after a while, I feel bad for whoever I put makeup on. But if I do it on my own face I can sit still for hours.”
6. Who is one person everyone should follow on Instagram?
“If you understand German definitely @elhotzo. Very smart humour. Otherwise, my all-time favourite @nadialeelee, I love her aesthetic!”
7. Favourite album? Do you listen to music whilst creating your looks?
“Currently it’s When I Get Home by Solange and Angels Pulse by Blood Orange. And I listen to different playlists while I’m doing make-up. It’s mostly old jazz, 1980/’90s hip hop, hardcore/punk rock or K-Pop.”
8. Name one person’s makeup that you would love to do.
“Rico Nasty. I feel like she would be down for crazy stuff and she can really pull it off.”
9. Who are your favourite artists?
“That’s a difficult question, but I think in general artists where I feel they have that crazy gene in them and they do their art not for money but for themselves. The world needs people like that.”
10. What’s your guilty pleasure?
“Watching Korean dog grooming videos on YouTube. It’s so satisfying, and my favourite is when they give abandoned dirty pups a brand-new look.”
Photography courtesy of Kicki Yang Zhang.