Most visual artists go to a paint store and buy a canvas or paper and use that as the base of their creations. Then they paint it with a sunset or the stars and moon and then have it to display forever. Junior Matt Litster creates art that is far less permanent, and he uses an entirely different canvas: himself.
Litster is both a drag queen and a special effects artist. By using a combination of these two skills, he is able to produce unique body art and create different characters and concepts. Litster pushes the boundaries of what is seen as drag by incorporating horror makeup and fashioning complex creations, both intellectually and physically.
Litster became interested in special effects after watching “Face Off,” a competition for special effects artists. He started doing makeup in 7th grade, which at that point was mainly horror makeup. It was not until the middle of 9th grade when he began to dabble in drag, which he became interested in after watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a reality TV competition for drag queens.
“My art is a mixture between body painting and special effects makeup and drag,” Litster said. “Drag is female impersonation,
but the way I perceive it is you want to execute a full body look rather than a drawing or a sculpture. It’s kind of a mixture of different kinds of art”
According to Litster, drag has become much more open in recent years; it has evolved past only men dressing up as women. Litster describes his own work as falling in these alternative forms of drag.
“My drag name is Lavinity. One of my first makeup palettes was called the Lavinity pallet,” Lister said. “It means rotten decay, and it’s actually a disgusting definition, but it’s so pretty sounding and that’s kind of what I want to be, because I can be dark and alternate, but I can also do things that are pretty and beautiful.”
Senior Lia Rosenblatt, Litster’s friend, is an avid supporter of his art. She said that seeing Litster’s work has given her a greater appreciation for his methods.
“The art he does is very conceptual. He transforms himself into different people and different animals,” Rosenblatt said. “I think his art is a way of expressing himself, and it is something that is a cre
ative medium for him to be who he is and express himself”
Litster showcases his art by posting his creations on Instagram every Wednesday and Saturday. He said that since he started posting imag
es of himself in drag t
his past summer, he has gained a lot of attention.
A friend of Litster’s, junior Nastasya S
emenovski said that his work has inspired her to try special effects makeup herself.
“It’s so cool that you can take some cotton balls and some spirit gum and turn it into a scar,” Semeonvski said. “Most of the time you see CGI and it’s not so much just effects, and seeing Matt do all that stuff it’s super interesting how talented h
Rosenblatt added that Litster’s art has become a source of pride for Litster. She said he uses his creations to define himself.
“I think that Matt is someone with a lot of creative energy and someone really special a
nd I think that what he does separates him from a lot of people where he is very artistically talented,” Rosenblatt said.
Semenovski also noted how brave Litster is for showcasing his art, as many students and adults are afraid of what others may think and what feedback they may receive.
“I think he takes criticism really well which is always a great thing especially if it’s constructive and not rude,” Semenovski said. “I think art is a creative channel where you can do whatever you want and put it on your Instagram and see the reactions whether they be negative or positive.”
Litster reiterated his point that drag has more than one definition, and it is because of this variety that he is able to define himself as a drag queen, even though other people might not think of his art as drag.
“If you want to try drag you should try it. It used to be just men dressing up as women, but now it’s really branched out to anyone dressing up as anything and performing or even posting pictures online,” Litster said. “Anyone can do drag and anyone can do makeup, and I know a lot of people are scared of it because it’s something that’s very taboo in our society, so I think that if you want to try it, try it. It’s just fun.”