Tuesday, July 23, 2024
73.0°F

Art that makes a difference

by George Kingson
| September 3, 2013 9:00 PM

She's a longtime artist who comes with a professional pedigree that includes her father, Stephen Shortridge, an internationally acclaimed painter.

Yet there has always been something about full-time painting that didn't appeal to her.

"It had to do with being alone in a studio," Hayley Shortridge-Gabriel said. "I wanted to do something that helped people. I wanted to interact with people on a more personal level than their just hanging my art in their homes.

"I wanted to see the difference I could make in their lives."

It was a chance encounter with a stranger in a hardware store a couple of years ago that started her in a new artistic direction: permanent cosmetics. While often considered solely a makeup enhancement procedure for improving eyebrows, eyeliner and lips with long-lasting colors, the field of permanent cosmetics also includes scar camouflage and post-mastecto my coloring such as areola and nipples.

"They really should call it semi-permanent makeup," Shortridge-Gabriel said. "It doesn't go as deep as a traditional tattoo and it uses pigments instead of inks. These will actually fade somewhere between four and 10 years."

Once she had made up her mind to pursue a new career, Shortridge-Gabriel started looking for mentors and teachers. The former she found in Linda Owsley, a registered nurse in Post Falls who had been doing permanent makeup for years. The latter, whom she located in San Francisco, was Adriana Vaughan, a pioneer in the field who had been teaching in France.

In her work, like the artist she is, Shortridge-Gabriel sees all people as different. She creates special colors for each individual and blends multiple shades until she is at last satisfied she has a match.

"I've been told that because I'm an artist, I have a different level of trust with my clients - that I know my colors.

"It's a humbling relationship to take somebody's trust that way and that's why I always want to go above and beyond to make sure everyone feels ecstatic when they walk out my door."

Shortridge-Gabriel is especially drawn to the medical side of her profession.

"The whole reason I wanted to get into this industry is when I found out I could help to camouflage scars and pigment discoloration for people. I myself have vitiligo and I understand the emotional distress it can cause.

"I know that after people go through things as traumatizing as chemo and surgery - especially following breast cancer - some women have a hard time with feeling a part of their femininity is gone. If I can help them in any way - with scar camouflaging or areola coloring, for example - I want to do that.

"I think that's why my heart leapt at the idea I could really do something here with my unique skill set to help somebody else."

Another reason for embarking on a new career was so her art could remain an unstressed part of her life - "...more than a hobby, but at least I won't have to rely on those sales," she said.

What aspect of her cosmetic work makes the biggest difference for her clients? Usually it's eyebrows. She said she tends to "err" on the side of doing lighter initial applications, believing that she can always go back and darken later.

The application of permanent cosmetics also requires a steady hand - the very steadiest.

"I've never doubted myself in that respect," Shortridge-Gabriel said. "I'm confident in my ability to have a steady hand with all my years of art."

No way around it, there can definitely be some discomfort in permanent cosmetics. "It is a tattoo, so it can be unpleasant," she said. "I try my hardest with all the topical anesthetics I have - if something's not working, I'll try something else - because I don't like seeing people in pain. But everyone's different because some people can even fall asleep while you're working on them."

Shortridge-Gabriel said her work can create a lot of pressure for her because she doesn't want to disappoint anyone.

"I don't go halfway into anything - I want to be the best I can be. I want the reputation of being an artist who does beautiful work."

Information: truelifecanvas.com