WEDNESDAY ZINE & INTROSPECTIVE ZINE COLLABORATE: INTERVIEWING MARTINA SALAS
Emily Blake, founder of the Wednesday Zine and Art Collective, and Sydney Durkin, founder of Introspective Zine, sat down to interview Martina Salas about her role as a makeup artist, feminist, drag lover, and teenage girl who doesn’t plan on conforming any time soon. Emily met Martina through Teen Art Council at Phoenix Art Museum. To see Martina’s work, you can follow her at @Martinas_makeup or @Martina_salsa on Instagram.
You’re actively involved in makeup and fashion, so how would you describe your personal style and what it means to you?
Martina: It honestly shifts everyday. One day I’ll want to look like Stevie Knicks and the next day I’ll wanna look like Marilyn Manson… and then the next day I’ll be decked out in hot pink Barbie everything. I don’t like to limit myself. And I never match my makeup to my clothes.
What has your love of drag and involvement in drag makeup taught you about beauty and self empowerment?
Martina: Drag makeup is what got me into makeup, honestly.
I feel like it’s the most pure form of self expression. I love how accessible it is. I really love how you can transform from one person into a completely different person. I love that so much. Makeup doesn’t cover you, but it furthers you and highlights everything.
It’s about showing a different part of yourself and not suppressing who you are.
It’s really apparent with drag that that’s what’s happening.
Are you involved in makeup and drag makeup specifically because it’s non-conformist?
Martina: Yes I really do love that part of it! I hate those makeup charts that are like “if you have green eyes wear this” or whatever. Like no, I’m going to wear whatever I want. You just can’t put roles into makeup. It wasn’t made for that.
You said your style changes every day, does it help you explore options and show how multi-faceted you are?
Martina: Yes definitely. I never want to limit myself. I’ve started doing whatever I want, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been… and the most confident I’ve ever been. When I started high school, I revamped myself and I stopped trying to be anyone else. It also affected who I surround myself with. All my friends are so cool, and there’s also no drama that comes along with it.
What keeps you motivated to diverge from the normal? Conforming would be easier, but what motivates you to just do you?
Martina: That’s a hard question. My dad has always told me, “We don’t follow trends. We set them,” and I’ve made that a little mantra in my life. Trends are cool because they look cool, and I always think that it would be easier to follow a trend, but doing whatever you want and not worrying is the best. Caring about designers and stuff… I feel like there’s something superficial about that.
It’s kind of funny because everyone at my school is really plain, but everyday I chip away at the dress code. I started wearing creepers and doc martens instead of black ballet flats, and red lipstick everyday, and a couple days later all these other girls were wearing it. I don’t mind being the first person to hit back, or whatever you want to call it.
I hate having the uniform because nothing makes you different than anyone else. There’s a no nail polish rule, but obviously I’m not following that.
Editor’s note: At this point in the interview, Martina help up her hand to show off her long navy blue metallic acrylic nails.
Martina: I’m not even trying to be rebellious like I just don’t even understand what this dress code means.
How has growing up in Phoenix shaped you as a creative?
Emily: Because I know for Syd and I, there’s been a lot of pressure to behave, or look a certain way, and I feel like that is definitely environment-specific. That’s partly why I was so excited to be on Teen Art Council, because it felt like an outlier group within the community we’re so used to being a part of.
Martina: I totally agree, but when you find someone who has the same ideas or the same way of living as you, they really get into it, and I think that’s really cool. I get support and comfort from that. I will tell my friends “please wear that!” “I will be your nude model for your portrait! I got you!”
Generally, why are you an artist?
Martina: It’s a mixture of me actively wanting to be an artist, but there’s also me just needing to do it. As an artist, you have to recognize your artistic abilities and talents, but you have to push yourself. I definitely push myself in my makeup. I ask myself, what can I do that I really love and am proud of, but is also different from what other people are doing? I wish the ideas came naturally, but sometimes I really have to push myself. That’s fine though because I know I have the right reasons. I just want to grow. I love doing it. I don’t try to exploit it or anything like that.
So is that why you’re an artist? You like setting yourself apart from others?
Martina: Yes, that’s one of the reasons why, because a lot of beauty gurus are getting really repetitive. I feel like there’s a lot of hidden possibilities. My idols are my idols because they were really doing groundbreaking stuff
Do you ever feel vulnerable about being a creative?
Martina: Finally being true to myself has made me less vulnerable honestly, because I think vulnerability comes with insecurity, or one leads to another in some way. I know I was really vulnerable when I wasn’t being myself because I was letting myself be open to all the judgement from other people. Now that I know who I am and what I like and dislike, it doesn’t really make sense to listen to judgement. It’s whatever’s gonna make me happy. Why would I sacrifice my happiness so someone likes what I’m wearing?
Syd: There’s always the possibility for someone to pick out “flaws” in other people, so why let that restrict you from expressing yourself? Plus, I think expressing yourself is something that others look up to because there’s sort of this mindset of “oh, I wish I could do that” — it really only takes one person to challenge those boundaries.
What is your goal for when you create art?
Martina: I feel like I’m trying to reach all audiences, but I mainly try to inspire other girls like me: women of color, etc., that you don’t have to fit into a certain image of what you should look like. You’re all beautiful in your own way. In Latina and Mexican culture, there’s a stigma against curly hair, and my whole life I prayed and wished for straight hair, but eventually I started to love it.
Emily: I think it’s really interesting that you bring that up, because I think the hair issue is really symbolic for a lot of things, and is really relevant for a lot of people. Even for me right now, who is not Latina, I’ve straightened and dyed my naturally curly hair to the point where I had to vow I was going to leave it alone. It really shows that we’re willing to do something that’s even damaging to ourselves because we want so badly for something to change. These are issues everyone is facing, latina or middle eastern… women in the black community as well. It’s an overarching idea that applies in so many ways.
Martina: I honestly never even thought about how so many groups face similar issues. I think your point about how we are willing to damage ourselves is so true.
Emily: I think it’s important to realize that we have all of these aspects of our identity that set us apart, but in the end…
Martina: We’re so much more alike than we are unalike!
How do people react to your art and react to you being a creative?
Martina: it’s usually really positive, and that makes me really happy. I’ve only ever gotten a couple people who have reacted weirdly. Some girl said “yeah that makeup look is cool in theory, but if I saw you I’d probably drown you in that fountain to get the makeup off.” I think I clapped back by saying something like “I wish you would”. I was just joking around with it because I honestly don’t even care. It really motivates me that I get good responses the majority of the time. I’ve seen girls tweet me photos, girls I don’t even know, of them replicating my makeup looks. It makes me so happy, I genuinely could cry.
Why do you consider yourself a feminist?
Martina: because I believe in equality for everyone no matter who you are. We should all be given the same rights and opportunities. I’ve always been a feminist and had these ideas since I was a little girl, but now I’m just putting a title to it.
Do you like that you have the term “feminist” itself to be able to express that?
Martina: Yes! I love that I have a term that I’m able to express it with. It makes it easier for people to understand, I think. I’ve had other women or random people laugh though when I say it. They think I’m radical just because I said I’m a feminist. I don’t mind explaining and telling people that their ideas about feminism are untrue. But sometimes people just don’t understand, so you have to hope they’ll get it eventually. If people are like, “oh that’s Martina and she’s a feminist,” I’ll be like ok, sounds good. It’s not a dirty word to me. It’s my favorite title .
Syd: It’s crazy how people throw the word around as an insult without looking into what it actually means. I think people just tend to follow the stigmas that exist within their communities because it’s easier to conform to those ideas.
What are you doing for the movement?
Martina: I volunteer literally as much as possible, whether it be for Planned Parenthood or women’s shelters around the area. Those are very, very, very important. You can’t just focus on one type of person. I think just telling people about the importance and beauty of feminism -how it’s affected me, and you- and trying to get them to understand it is the goal. I’ve “converted” a few people and it makes me happy.
Syd: Honestly, when I was younger, I also perceived feminism to be a negative thing.
Martina: I know, everyone just imagines a woman burning her bra or something. Where did burning the bra even come from? It makes me realize how much we need feminism. We need to get rid of stereotypes. It’s very ironic.
Syd: It’s interesting because I was never explicitly told that feminism was bad; I’m really not sure where that idea came from— I probably just noticed, subtly, that it had a negative connotation and I assumed that idea.
Martina: It’s 100% just the connotation of the word.
Emily: It’s unbelievable how there can be so much stigma around a word that people can literally read the dictionary definition for. If people were to just google it or something, they would be able to read how feminism really just means social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. I agree with you that it shows how much we still need feminism.
How do you see the movement going in the future?
Martina: I honestly think it’s just going to grow even more, and they’re going to be more focused on women of color, and trans women, and the smaller groups, because obviously different groups of people have different issues, and I’m just happy that the focus is starting to broaden out because those groups are just as important .
What (or who) are some of your biggest inspirations?
Pat McGrath is my biggest makeup inspiration for sure. As general inspirations, well, color inspires me. I tend to wear mostly black, but when I’m doing makeup or art I really love beautiful, bright colors, and I feel like they speak for themselves most of the time. And obviously I love drag queens, they’re inspiration for everything. Inspiration for how I live. And women in general are my inspiration. I love women and I love being a woman. Just how strong we are… it almost makes me cry when I think about it.
Is there anything you want to cover before we finish the interview?
Emily: It’s a really exciting time. It’s especially exciting to be a feminist. How do you feel about that?
Martina: I think it’s very exciting. There are more feminists now, more people calling themselves feminists, than there have ever been. And a lot of stereotypes are starting to die out. Which, thank god! That is what we’ve been fighting for.
Syd: There’s something really powerful about teenagers writing about teenagers.
Emily: People have never taken teenage girls seriously, and I love how we are flipping the script in regards to that.
Syd: I think teenagers tend to be the most observant of the world around us and it’s flaws; I think that’s benefitting us right now as we advocate for improvement
Emily: Of course girls like us are smart and observant. That’s all we’ve ever been allowed to be. If someone isn’t telling you to speak up, you’re going to spend the time you could have been center of attention, and use it to observe everything else around you. It’s taken a lot for us to get to this place, but I’m glad the intelligence and the observation is finally being utilized.
Syd: We just have to all be open to education, and we need to be ready to listen to how we can help all women. There are some white women who refer to themselves as feminists but in reality they only care about how white women are being affected, and they refuse to show up or even listen to issues that may not directly impact them.
Emily: We really have to put the pressure on being intersectional.
Martina: I feel that if someone were to tell them about the issues they were being ignorant about, then they would be totally open to it. Overall, It doesn’t make sense to be silent and just being angry about something.
It’s beautiful how everyone is educating each other right now.