An artist has used her lips as a canvas to rack up more than 50,000 Instagram followers for her amazing creations. Minnie McGee, 25, from Leeds, stumbled into ‘ lip art ‘ after creating a piece for her level of AS art in 2010.
She has been making hundreds of designs since then and shares her work with thousands of adoring followers. ‘ I created my first piece in sixth form for my final AS Level piece, ‘ she told Femail. It was pink with an orange stripe and between the teeth there was a pound of coin.
‘I’d always loved commercial photography, I used to rip out sections of magazines that were close up shots of products on either eyes, lips or nails and collate them in a scrapbook. ‘While my peers declared interest in becoming vets, cowboys and wrestlers, my consistent answer since primary school when prompted to choose an ideal career path, was art.’
After acing her GCSEs and A Levels in art, Minnie went on to study Fine Art at the University of Lancaster. While there she build an Instagram following, and now regularly gets thousands of likes on her posts.
Minnie’s lip art ranges from the weird and wonderful to wacky. Recent iterations include an all-over green look for St Patrick’s day, a Silence of the Lambs look for Halloween and even Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry-themed creations for her fashion-loving following.
She’s also dedicated a look to the smash hit movie Mean Girls, created a world cup look and several rainbow-themed looks for gay pride. ‘I think my favourite lip art I’ve ever created was “Save the Bees” in 2018,’ she said. ‘I found a dead bee in my Dad’s studio at home, luckily I’ve never been afraid of insects, so I had no problem using him in a lip art!
‘I painted two false nails with a honeycomb design, mimicked the design on my lips, and then glued the bee to my top lip using a cosmetic adhesive. I think this, along with the other two pieces in my insect series have been my most controversial. ‘Even though the insects were either naturally, or ethically sourced, some people really found discomfort when viewing the images.
‘My follower count definitely took a hit when I posted this triptych of images, but I don’t always want to only create safe pieces.’ Minnie’s aim for the year is to create more daring looks, especially in topics she’s passionate about. She said: ‘In 2019 I’d like to create more pieces that spark discussion, or leave the viewer with a lasting memory of the piece or series.
‘Especially if I can also use my work to highlight important topics or issues happening within the world,’ she adds. Using her Instagram to promote her work has become a promising business venture for Minnie, who also sells her pieces online.
‘When I left university in 2015, I made the decision not to look for graduate jobs and try to build my own business from home,’ she said. ‘I knew a large online following would be key, just like physical customers to a gallery would have been had I chosen that route.
‘I’m lucky that I’ve never needed to promote my account via Instagram’s ‘promote’ tool. Cosmetic brands help me out a lot when they kindly repost my work to their followers. ‘In the last six months I’ve lost quite a lot of followers because I’ve recently bought and renovated my home.
‘I was so busy and as a result, I wasn’t posting regularly enough to maintain the following I had. Which is completely understandable.’ ‘However, I’m now in my new studio, and producing work to post again. I can’t wait to be back sharing my art online!’
Clearly not afraid of hard-work, Minnie works full-time splitting her time between drawings, interior art, pieces people commission, make-up and cosmetic photography pieces. ‘I sell my lip arts, either to brands to use for their promotions, or to consumers as art prints for their homes,’ she said.
‘At the moment, I’m focusing more on perfecting both the artistry and the photography of these pieces so I can offer an unrivalled quality of piece, but I will be beginning to market the selling of the pieces properly this year. ‘I’ve always done my friends makeup and experimented with my own, but more recently I’ve been receiving requests via email to do makeup for others,’ she continued.
‘I prefer creating theatrical, special event makeup looks that require face paints and special effects as opposed to prom or makeup for nights out. But it’s a huge compliment whenever someone liked my work enough to trust me with their face.’
While she mainly keeps her looks to the studio, Minnie admits that she’s had some some strange responses answering the door mid-look. ‘My postman is a particular fan of my work, by the time he delivers to my home between 12-1pm, I’m either finishing creating the art or mid-shooting the photographs.
‘I think I’m the most entertaining house he delivers to. Especially when I have a dead insect or a coloured gloss dripping from my mouth. ‘My best friend Charlotte and I had the idea to go to various drive through restaurants while I’m in full character face paint and costume, and film the reactions of the workers who serve us. Perhaps that’ll be coming to YouTube this year!’
Fans of Minnie get to see the whole process of her artwork, as she shares a lot of behind the scene works to her Snapchat. After that, she takes to Instagram to uploaded finished, polished pieces. Her success, she says, is in a large part down to her parents support.
‘I’ve been so lucky to have the parents I have’ she says. ‘My friends and followers always comment on how supportive they are. ‘When I come to them with one of my ridiculous concepts for a new piece or series of work, their reactions have never been to discourage me from creating it.
‘My Dad’s first reaction is always “OK, and how do we logistically make it work?” ‘He spends time away from his own work (he’s a painter and photographer), researching products and methods to make sure we achieve what I was hoping to. ‘My Mum has so often had to run out to the supermarket or the craft shop to pick up something urgently needed for a look, while I wait at home fully painted.
‘My parents converted their dining room into a studio for me so I could have a space of my own to create work in. ‘Now I’ve moved out, my Dad is planning on having this as his second studio. I don’t think my Mum was aware of these plans up until this article- sorry Mum! No dining room for you!
‘It’s not all bad, she has her studio upstairs which was a former spare bedroom.’ And while her parents are artists, Minnie does all of her work herself. ‘I create all the nails and all the artwork myself, on my own lips, photograph it by myself and the retouch the looks by myself. It’s a one woman job!
‘The only lip pieces I’ve enlisted the help of my Dad in with are the looks that have included fire. For my birthday, I created a pink lip with cake sprinkles, I then lit a candle and held it within my teeth.
‘Neither I or my Dad trusted me with concentrating on operating the camera while clenching my teeth to hold a lit, melting candle next to my face.’ Away from lip art, Minnie has also created 31 Halloween looks for every day of October.
She said: ‘I chose to create full face/upper body looks of evil/sinister characters in film and TV. I love creating these looks, but the demand to create not just one look a day, but one quality look a day was stressful.
‘That being said, I have been toying with the idea of taking part in 100 Days of make-up – I like a challenge! As for the future, Minnie is excited to be doing her first collaboration. She’s working with Australian nail artist Liam Peter. ‘He has supplied 14 sets of false nails for me to create the matching lips for’ she said.
‘He has created nails previously for Ru Paul’s Drag Race contestants and his work is respected throughout the nail art world. ‘By having the online presence that I do, it’s allowed me to connect with artists like Liam, and so many incredibly talented creators, from over 20 countries.
‘I do consider them my friends now, and I’m blessed to have had the opportunities and the following to be noticed, and to notice them.’