Athena Paginton is part of the new-wave cohort of visionary make up artists in London, along with the likes of Isamaya Ffrench, who are elevating the craft of make-up and stopping us all in our tracks. After all, who said make-up had to be about making something pretty or palatable?
From the ghoulish to the absurdist via the surreal and extra-terrestrial, Athena is using the human body as a canvas for experimentation, transformation, mutation, expression and defiance- and, challenging all our misinformed preconceptions of what a make-up artist should be. Athena is an accomplished illustrator too, a skill that’s easily visible in her more intricate work- a flame-licked face, a rainbow glitter mask and even- a human lizard hybrid-look. Her experimentation began at school when she started using peers as canvases in art class, and the obsession stuck.
Athena’s work is firm two-fingers up at the boring, standardised beauty ideals perpetuated by dull campaigns and staid beauty imagery that we’re all still being force feed (how, it’s 2017?!). Closer to theatre than your local make-up counter, Athena’s ability to transmute her subjects has us, and the fashion industry, firmly under her spell.
At 25 she’s already done cover work for Wonderland Magazine, where she was tasked with shooting Hollie May Saker in Spain in less than 24 hours. Athena’s also worked her sorcery for Dazed, Buffalo magazine and Wallpaper Magazine. Most recently Athena worked on her first beauty campaign- the ground-breaking ASOS Go Play campaign, starring, amongst others, Instagram star Jazelle AKA @uglyworldwide who for some many people optimises progress within the beauty industry. Jazelle is one of the many alt Instagram stars who’ve amassed mega followings for their refusal to comply with beauty norms- her shaved head and eyebrows, braces and androgynous looks mean she’s an apt beauty icon for this generation, and perfect model for artists like Athena.
Beyond her work as a beauty-artist, Athena is also spreading the message that beauty can be pain free. A passionate animal rights activist, Athena’s entire make up-kit is entirely cruelty free and she uses her social media to spread the good word, as well as share her own work.
In and around all of those commitments, Athena has also managed to establish Weathergurlz, an art-direction company with photographer Michèle Côté. It’s a project that focuses on maintaining high standards health and wellbeing within the creative industries. The duo also curate “The Forecast” a monthly podcast, bi-annual Weathergurlz zine, and wellbeing workshops. It’s not only Athena’s prolific creative output that’s inspiring, it’s also that all of her work is skewered by the desire to make the creative industries a more inclusive, more positive place.