Rolly Robinson is a bold new name embodying an exciting age of emerging makeup artistry, unburdened by traditional limits. His Instagram is a wonderland of eclectic costumes and phantasmagorical creations.
In this arresting film about Robinson, More is More, the artist defines his work by simply saying, “it’s my way of living in those dreams that I have.” We sat down with him to find out more about the magical world of Rolly Robinson.
We love what you’re doing. It’s so expressive and avant-garde. How did this all start for you?
It all started when I was a kid. I saw the world from a completely different angle than everyone else I knew. My parents basically let me watch whatever I wanted and I wasn’t restricted from playing with certain toys. What I loved most about my childhood was that I could just be.
My mom, who is my everything, is who I really thank the most for the influence in my life. My craft began in illustration when I was just 3 years old, and as I got older, I branched out. The best thing about being a creative is that one can do anything.
How did this amazing film More is More come about?
Alexis Boling, who directed the film, shot me a year prior for a series of makeup transformation videos called, Extreme Beauty. After I left my job we stayed in touch and he presented this immaculate idea to me. Needless to say, I agreed to it over a dumpling dinner in China Town. To this day, it’s all I could have ever asked for. Maura McNamara, the producer of the film, who I met that night at dinner was just as excited as I was, and from there we just went for it. I love the both of them so much. They’re basically my family at this point.
We recently featured the exciting work of another makeup talent Isamaya Ffrench, it seems there is a little mini revolution going on with makeup. Do you think this signals a shift in how people are expressing themselves?
To be mentioned in the same context as Isamaya Ffrench is an honor within itself, I really LOVE what she’s doing, and she just so happens to be my favorite makeup artist. There is totally a mini revolution in the makeup world. I’m really proud and happy to be involved in it, and it’s exciting to see just how progressive we have become. Makeup artistry has evolved exponentially into this über phenomenon, and I think it’s really making a difference.
You say, “I think about the entire presentation of everything.” Walk us through an average day in the life of Rolando.
A day in the life of Rolly? Haha, I’d like to see someone try. When I have a project on my hands, I tend to think of my concept by styling an outfit first or by conceptualizing headpiece ideas. The makeup usually comes after. Some of the things I make can take a few hours or a few weeks to complete. I remember when we were shooting More Is More on the last day of the project, I had been awake for 48 hours straight due to filming and pulling an all-nighter to create my headpieces and props for the shoot that day. It was intense, and so typical of me to do.
Makeup usually takes about 4 hours to complete. I love listening to music, and smoking to loosen up and get my juices flowing. It’s always nice to heighten that sense of imagination too. I don’t really go out nowadays. Going out for me is going to a press event, or meeting a friend at a bar, or grabbing some night-time tea with my boyfriend. As far as partying, I’m not that person anymore. I stay home mainly because the New York scene is tired, and the music doesn’t impress me.
We get a strong sense of Leigh Bowery in your work, what other inspirations and influences are big for you, music, art etc.?
I don’t really turn to anyone as a reference or source of inspiration in that way. I have my own look and aesthetic. I’m inspired by things and moments in time such as Japanese culture, nature, and the essence of ’70s glamour. Music is also a huge part of my work and life in general. It gives me a mood, a feeling. Having a soundtrack to what I’m doing enables me to evoke a lot of emotion into the final look. I love fantasy and things that aren’t technically real, so cartoons are a huge part of that inspiration too. The way they are stylized or the usage of color is really cute to me. Although I have a full roster of people I admire and works of theirs I love, I’m separate from them.