Years ago, I remember sitting in the dermatologist office for the umpteenth time, staring at the outdated 2-D eczema diagram hanging on the wall. This passed for art, and at the time, it was the only art I’d ever seen involving eczema. Fortunately, times have changed.
In the past, any skin that was less-than-perfect was considered a diamond in the rough. However, skin conditions are now being embraced and displayed in many artforms, edifying people around the world.
As chronic skin conditions are becoming normalized (thank goodness), communities are progressing, too. Every day, more and more people are opening up about their skin conditions by expressing themselves through art. Whether that be in the form of makeup, museum displays, books, or TV shows, these artists are using their talents to show how our skin can tell a story.
Bronya Humphreys is taking the makeup and eczema community by storm. Hailing from the United Kingdom, this 20-year-old self-taught makeup artist developed eczema fairly recently. (It’s important to understand that this serious skin condition can occur at any time in life.) Although her makeup journey stemmed from dealing with prenatal depression, it wasn’t until after the birth of her beautiful daughter that she started to get rashes around her eyes. She says people were concerned and even asked if her eczema was contagious.
Determined not to let her eczema get in the way of her creativity, Bronya took Instagram by storm. Starting with a before picture, viewers can see her skin covered in red, raw patches around her eyes. What follows is simply mesmerizing. Her eczema-covered-eyes are transformed into skyscrapers, tropical flowers, Vincent Van Gogh paintings, Mars, and more. The works are truly inspirational. Her sensational talent has led Bronya to amass a ton of new followers and have her creations be featured in multiple media outlets.
Kartiki Bhatnagar’s artistic story stems from being on the receiving end of bullying due to her vitiligo. Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes loss of pigmentation — Kartiki developed it from a thyroid problem. Unfortunately, when she was a 17-year-old senior at Delhi Public School she was teased. It wasn’t until a friend complimented her uneven skin, that she saw her skin in a different light. He even pointed out that it looked like the Apple logo. He also suggested she outline it with a sketch pen.
This ignited Kartiki to examine all of her skin like never before. Not only did she take her friend’s advice, she started doodling and painting around her patches of vitiligo. Her creations range from ghosts to mountains and sunrises. She has since created a website called Embracing Life where you can see all her skin art.
Ariana Page Russell is a Brooklyn-based artist who was born with dermatographic urticaria — a rare skin condition sometimes called “skin writing.” Anyone diagnosed with this has highly sensitive skin — so sensitive that any pressure applied from an outside source causes the skin to react.
Instead of dwelling Ariana decided to manipulate her skin into beautiful artwork. She did this by using needles and outside objects to draw heavily patterned typographic designs. After she does these drawings, she then waits five minutes until these patterns are visible on her skin. With only 30 minutes to spare before it fades away, she’s able to capture her skin and create a collage.
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Ashley Wall is a freelance writer who started her blog Itchin’ Since ’87 as a creative outlet. As a longtime eczema sufferer, she considers herself the ‘eczema aficionado’. She’s a huge advocate for maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Her life’s mission is to help find a cure for eczema. With her experience, she also hopes to give insightful advice on living with eczema through her writing and work. Aside from her website, Ashley is available to connect on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.