The Artist Kicki Yang Zhang on How to Paint Eye-Popping Face-Scapes


Those who believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder should meet Kicki Yang Zhang. For the German artist, who uses paint to transform her features into a backdrop for eye-popping, kaleidoscopic designs, face-painting has far more to do with her own feeling of satisfaction than it does with the reactions of her large online following. Or, as Zhang puts it, “Who said makeup only belongs on eyes and lips? The whole point should be to underline your strengths, not to hide what you don’t want people to see. So, why not use the entire face—the entire body— as a canvas?” Below, and with the help of her trusty Polaroid NOW+ camera—the ultimate “experimental sidekick” that connects via Bluetooth while keeping the original’s analog flair—Zhang shows us how to paint ourselves happy.


Source your material. As you may have guessed, there are some things you shouldn’t use as make up. I once painted on my leg with acrylics as an experiment and let me tell you… I will not do that again. Your skin is the only canvas you’ve got, so treat it with care. My favorite thing to use are water-based face paints— they’re pretty inexpensive, come off easily at the end of the day, and best of all, you can mix them! So go out and get a whole set. As for brushes, I use regular paintbrushes, not makeup brushes.

Meditate on it. Ask yourself, “How am I really feeling today?”

Pair the emotions you’re feeling (see STEP 2) with their corresponding colors. This is completely up to your own interpretation. For example, red is a color that lots of people associate with anger, but for me it feels like happiness. If you’re feeling good today, and blue is your happy color, whip it out!

It’s time to look into the mirror. Which part of your face are you into today? That’s the point you’re going to build your look around. You can’t decide? That means your entire face looks cute af today— we love a confident queen. Pick a random spot.

I know this is a bit cliche, but just go for it! Shapes, flowers, little penises if you feel like it. There is literally nothing you can’t paint on your face. Let your emotions guide you.

STEP 6 (Optional)
Have a mental breakdown because your look didn’t turn out how you hoped it would. That’s the beauty of make up! Simply wipe it off and start over. Basically, repeat STEP 5 until you’re happy.

Look into the mirror and say, “I’m that bitch.”