Artist of The Week: Athena Paginton
In honor of Earth Day, we spoke to Athena Paginton, the London-based makeup artist making waves (and someone whose ecological footprint is always at the forefront of her craft). Having worked with brands like Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Nike, and Saint Laurent, she utilizes her creative eye and cruelty-free makeup kit to lead conversations. “All of my work holds the purpose to challenge, whether it’s an opinion, or a physical action,” says Paginton. In addition to her beauty work, last November, she curated her first exhibition, “Trash”, which aimed to draw awareness to everyday overconsumption, specifically in regards to single-waste items. Bringing together 22 artists to raise money for Greenpeace International, she commissioned pieces made using their own rubbish. It should come as no surprise that she’s also currently designing free art workshops based on self love, mindfulness, creativity, and equality via Weather Gurlz, the art direction company/zine she co-founded. The world would be a better place with more people like Paginton.
What are you working on right now?
I’m about to begin my diploma in Marine Biology so I’m pretty pumped about that! There is a huge correlation between the cosmetic industry and plastic pollution, which is why I’m looking forward to gaining more knowledge on marine life and its ecosystems. Working within an industry that is one of the major contributors to the amount of waste we produce, holds opportunity to turn things around from the core of it all and prevent further damage. Whether it’s as consumers and being mindful about where we shop. Or as cosmetic brands becoming more sustainable with not only ingredients, but the manufacturing of products along with distribution, marketing and advertisement—all of which play a role in the current decline of marine life.
While you were paving your way in London, you worked multiple random jobs to stay there—what advice do you have for young people trying to do similar things?
Time management! Work hard, but don’t burn out. Make sure you are allowing yourself time to spend alone and remain mindful. Keeping a healthy balance is key.
Oftentimes, especially in the creative industry, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t doing enough or that you have to have THAT specific job to feel successful—have you ever experienced this? How do you combat those ideas?
I haven’t ever felt like this as I’ve always been secure in my path that what I’m doing is enough, and that I’m exactly where I need to be. I believe as long as I am happy, it’s a success. I would advise anyone who feels this way to focus on how a job/client/magazine makes you feel as opposed to how you think it will make you look.
In can often be overwhelming when you think about all the political and environmental challenges we’re facing at the moment—in what ways do you alter and inspire your artistic practice to make sure you’re keeping the earth in mind?
This can be broken into two factors – the first being that I try to use as many ethical products and materials as possible during the creative progression of the work itself. The second, is that I direct my works theme into areas that lead to conversations. All of my work holds the purpose to challenge, whether it’s an opinion, or a physical action, which is exciting to come up with new ideas to raise awareness for important topics.
5 tips for keeping a sustainable makeup kit?
1: Biodegradable wipes
2: Liquid products in glass packaging
3: Go cruelty-free with products
4: Reuse your containers
5: Choosing products with as a little ingredients as possible
What’s in your own personal makeup kit?
Eyelash curlers, brow gel and lip balm. I’m easy AF.
How do your creative ideas come to you? Do you draw them in a notebook?
It honestly depends! Regarding makeup—if I have a specific concept in mind sometimes I will design them first before applying to the face if I choose in advance I want to design an intricate look. However, I can be on set and decide then and there to paint something wild. Where as with illustration, it’s not ever something I pre-plan, I trust the process and allow myself full freedom to create then and there every time.
Art aside—how do you practice sustainability in your everyday life?
I live a zero waste lifestyle to the best I can—I don’t purchase packaged food, I have a reusable coffee cup, and water bottle. I walk or skate everywhere and only get the train when I absolutely have to. I am very minimalistic and I only own things that either hold the purpose of practicality or pure joy so in regards to materialism and consumption—I’ve got that down!
In the beauty realm, which brands and communities do you look to for inspiration to remain sustainably and ethically conscious?
I find that cruelty-free brands are more likely to be environmentally friendly as a whole, specifically skin care focused brands. Products will be packaged in glass containers, and/or usually hold a ‘use before date’ due to using natural preservatives which is really cool.
Where do you get your information/knowledge?
BBC Radio 4 “In our time” is a great listen with a lot of topics to choose from. Ted talks are also a good shout. love to read, and I study any moment I get. My mates and I all love learning so we are always throwing each other new documentaries to watch or live talks/events to go along to.
Besides being mindful of your ecological footprint and impact on the world, you’re also very in tune with the mentality it takes to lead a healthy life—what’s new with Weathergurlz?
We are currently designing art workshops based on our 4 themes, self love, mindfulness, creativity, and equality—stay tuned! All workshops will be free of charge—which is something that is extremely important to us, ensuring that the creative classes, along with the equipment provided is accessible for all at no cost.
Images courtesy of Lauren Maccabee
Stay tuned to Milk for more sustainable beauty.