Athena by Amber
Photography Amber Baker Body painting and model Athena Paginton Words Katy Lassen
Also talks activism, beauty, and representation with the multi talented Athena Paginton while photographer and close friend Amber Baker persuades her to get naked on Ridley Road.
Your work is colourful, expressive and optimistic and is much more than just ‘make-up’. How would you describe what you do/what your job is?
Thank you! I’m an activist first, then illustrator & make-up artist. I allow the first to flow through both platforms I’ve built. With every piece of work I create, it is built from the foundations of “What can I do to help” “What can I raise awareness for” “Who is being underrepresented”.
Beauty photography was traditionally very two dimensional with young, thin and white dominating and an impossibly perfect airbrushed finish. This has been turned on its head in the past few years thank god. What do you think makes a perfect beauty image?
A perfect beauty image will be different in everybody’s opinion. But for me, honestly… as long as the imagery holds representation for those without, it’s done its job.
How do you define beauty?
It’s an energy, it’s laughter and it’s strength.
The fashion and beauty industry is massively in flux with diversity and body positivity on the rise (at last) and with the outing of abusers and bullies, model’s voices are finally being heard. What are your thoughts on the mood in the industry right now?
I think the mood is currently POWERFUL. We have incredible people speaking up like Wilson Oryema, Maxim Magnus, Erin Corrain-Alexis, Lola Coca, BBZ, Munroe Bergdorf and Marz Lovejoy. If anyone reading this hasn’t heard of the above – check them out. I also co-own ‘Weathergurlz’ with Michèle Côté, a company we founded that is dedicated to self-care within the industry.
Those in creative industries are educating not only ourselves and each other but the upcoming generation. It’s our responsibility to be the catalyst for change. I feel very positive about the way things are moving!
The fight against animal cruelty is very important to you. How does this manifest in your work?
Massively. I am extremely strict with whom I work with. I go out of my way to chose ethical brands and clients over jobs that would monopolize my profits and income. I’m not about that life, I never have been. It’s important to lead by example. As a make-up artist who daily carries one very large suitcase worth of product to jobs, who changed a kit to cruelty-free… this proves that one with a small makeup bag of personal products definitely can!
What is your favourite part of the body to paint?
Love me a booty!
How did it it feel being on the other side of the camera in this series of photos for Also?
Fucking epic. I love Amber. It goes without saying that spending two consecutive days with your mate eating pizza, skating, and getting naked is hands down the best. But on top of that she’s an incredibly talented photographer – no matter the situation she makes you feel safe. I mean, I was stripping off in the middle of Ridley Road Market during rush hour and felt totally comfortable because of her. There’s not many people that could say that!