Art Beat: Photographer and makeup artist Jasmine Garcia discusses Las Vegas, feminine sexiness and confidence

Art Beat: Photographer and makeup artist Jasmine Garcia discusses Las Vegas, feminine sexiness and confidence

People born under the zodiac sign Pisces are said to have the desire to escape reality, often to build their own. Jasmine Garcia is a 29-year-old Pisces, photographer and makeup artist who began building her own reality in the most fantastical place on earth: Las Vegas.

The flashing neon lights and the winding strip influenced Garcia stylistically and set the stage for much of her early work. Capturing her friends and hardcore and punk rock shows ignited Garcia’s passion for photography while molding her artistic tastes.

“I like weird colors,” Garcia said. “ The city has a real seedy feel, and it affects how I shoot. Those colors add so much visually. No one would understand it if you didn’t grow up there. There’s money and strippers and gambling, but I really feel like Vegas is something more, something special.”

Garcia was hired at Zappos, an online shoe and clothing shop, in 2014 as an editorial retoucher, then shortly after was promoted to art director. Garcia was in charge of creating the shots for Zappos’ seasonal magazine. The set, the models, the makeup and the clothes for each photo featured in the magazine were Garcia’s responsibility.

The stress of the job, a yearning for a new environment and her boyfriend’s job relocation pushed Garcia to move to Columbia in 2016. Now, Garcia is a freelance makeup artist, retoucher and photographer unrestricted by a brand’s specific wants and stylistic guidelines.

“When you work for a brand and you have deadlines, there are going to be moments where it isn’t fun,” Garcia said. “It’s intense. When you’re shooting for a brand, you’re shooting what they want. You have to live up to their expectations, but for personal shoots we just have fun. Our photo shoots are super relaxed. Just put on some good music and have good vibes. I’m not trying to have a shoot that feels like pressure. I like my models to feel relaxed and not posed.”

Candid and raw is how Garcia likes her subjects. Behind her usage of moody gel lights, realness and authenticity are at the core of Garcia’s photos. Her models pose in strong and dynamic positions.

Garcia herself possesses an effortless confidence that seems to bleed into her work, influencing her subjects to be just what she wants them to be: themselves.

“I’m all about natural sexiness, and I want my model to come off that way,” Garcia said. “Feminine confidence is what I love. I want my models to walk away feeling good about themselves and excited to see the photos. Growing up, my mom was very strong-headed. She was all about being sexy and embracing it, and not doing it for men but for herself. She’s raised me to always be a feminist. I’m not going to go around and talk about it. Instead, I’m going to uplift women and be a f------ woman in the industry; do my job and be good at it.”

Being a female photographer also gives her work a refreshing perspective. Models aren’t exploited or objectified by Garcia’s vision as they often are in the historically male-dominated world of fashion and photography.

“I have noticed a lot of male photographers get into glamour and sexy photos of girls and do it just because they want to be around sexy women,” Garcia said. “It can come off as creepy. They don’t know how to make a woman feel comfortable. I just want the models to feel really good about themselves. I’ve heard it from numerous models in the industry that the photographer was touching them or being gross, and that bums me out. No woman or man should ever feel that way.”

Fostering an environment of comfort allows Garcia to create her organic-yet-dreamlike world. Music blares during every one of her shoots, filling the rooms with good vibes while fueling her inspiration.

“Internally I’m a mix of rap and punk rock,” Garcia said. “I grew up listening to hip-hop and rap at a very young age. My mom canceled MTV because I was watching all the music videos and I knew all the lyrics to Snoop Dogg. Then I got into punk and hardcore, and that was my life for years. I went to every punk and hardcore show in Las Vegas; I didn’t miss one. That was my life.”

From an early age, the retro and youthful nature of the music scene captured Garcia’s fascination and activated her imagination. There’s a nostalgic yet modern feel to her photos today.

Makeup is also a passion Garcia recognized shaping her youth. As a freelance makeup artist for several years, Garcia sees makeup as an enhancement of self. Much like her photography, she focuses on the natural essence of her subjects, highlighting those qualities while making them something new. Natural makeup is Garcia’s go-to look for models of her shoots, despite the full-glam look she sports herself.

“Makeup is a personal thing,” Garcia said. “I don't wear it for anyone else but myself. Makeup is just fun for me, I don't feel like anyone needs it, but I love to be done up on the daily. I love enhancing people's natural beauty when it comes to doing makeup on others, especially for shoots. ”

There’s something pure in Garcia’s work. Whether it’s her shots of a woman grasping white flowers pensively gazing into the distance or the white and gold shimmering highlighter she lightly brushes on her subjects’ upper cheeks, Garcia is creating a fantasy out of the ordinary.

“Truth and art go hand in hand,” Garcia said. “Without truth you can’t create art. How I originally got into photos was [watching] photographers just shooting people on the street and in their natural environment and to me that truth. Don’t get me wrong, when I shoot I want to create a fantasy feel — but at the same time I want it to feel raw. I want it to feel natural.”

Edited by Claire Colby | ccolby@themaneater.com

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