Complections was pleased to have a chance to catch up with graduate Vicki Skandalaki, a passionate advocate for human equality. We spoke with her about her success as a graduate and learned about how she is working to change the world’s perceptions of the LGBTTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Queer) community as co-creator of the Toronto-based organisation, the BLOT Project.
What inspired you to become a make-up artist?
I have always been drawn to make-up and the diversity it provides for as long as I can remember. Growing up I constantly changed my appearance and the use of make-up allowed me to discover my independence and identity. The idea of helping people choose their look while building a relationship and strengthening their confidence is what fuelled me to become a make-up artist.
How would you describe your experience at Complections?
Complections helped me discover my abilities and talents as an artist. The teachers were supportive and motivating. My classmates were diverse and a lot were similar to myself, and I found comfort that there were others out there who I could relate to. I always felt that I could achieve anything I wished with the support of the school. Complections’ credibility alongside its solidarity leveraged my ability to manifest my future.
What sort of jobs did you take after graduation?
After graduation I freelanced in many facets of the industry: fashion, film, special events and theatre. I have worked independently as a make-up consultant for those who would like to learn how to do their own make-up. I have also discovered through the years that I really enjoy body art and the transformation of the human canvas. I also volunteered for the “Look Good – Feel Better” campaign, assisting cancer patients with the application and knowledge of cosmetics.
What is the BLOT Project?
The BLOT Project is a community project that unites the public to raise our voices against discrimination. The objective of the project is to have the people speak for the people. BLOT stands for Believe and Love Our Truths. We ask individuals to blot their lips on a piece of paper and write a statement for the cause at hand. These images will be constructed into a book. When they are sold, we will be giving a percentage of the profits back to a charity that associates itself with the issue. This year we are aligning with the LGBTTQ community.
Where did you get the idea for the project?
I was in a summer residency program at The Toronto School of Art in the summer of 2010 and I had the image of lips on my mind. Our lips are important: they are where our spoken word comes from. It was a personal project to begin with. I spent part of the summer blotting my own lips and I was planning to use them in an installation. I concluded that this project was for community minorities and anyone who has ever had to deal with being different, not fitting in, or being bullied.
It was spring when associate Cory Stewart and I were having lunch and the BLOT Project came up in discussion. I explained my passion for the project, and I allowed him to speak his mind about his perceptions. The conversation stemmed into the abuse of the Gay and Lesbian community,and he mentioned that we should commence the project at Pride 2011. Through careful planning and implementation, we executed the project in June.
Why did you decide to take a stand for this cause?
I grew up being bullied for my differences and I knew that as an adult I would somehow make it different for the kids today. That is what kept me going. As an adult I have realized that not only kids but also adults need to feel connected to others similar to themselves. The people around me, my gay and lesbian friends who I hold dear and who enhance my life, have their own stories of childhood and adulthood hardship. It hurts me to know that anyone has to feel pain from his or her life choice. The LGBTTQ community suffers from injustice and I can’t stand by and let this happen.
Tell me about your involvement with Toronto Pride Parade.
We went out two days during Pride Week and reached out to the general public to participate in the project. People were so responsive: in those two days we gathered the lip blots and statements of about 150 participants. During Pride Parade we were at The Toronto School of Art tent doing the same thing. We asked people to blot and write a statement for the LGBTTQ community and after everything was said and done we had the pleasure of interacting with 350 more incredible and giving people.
What has the BLOT Project been up to since Pride?
We have created a Twitter and Facebook account and gathered all the lip blots and statements to prepare them for the book. We have also started a YouTube channel to start spreading the word that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender and queer isn’t just okay, but right.
Tell me about your upcoming event on Jan 15th.
“Kiss and Tell” is being held to make videos to reach out to those who need support. We are asking people who feel passionately about LGBTTQ rights to come out with a positive statement anywhere up to five minutes long and speak against hate and injustice. There will be a light reception with beverages and food provided. The event will be held at The Toronto School of Art on 410 Adelaide (at Spadina), 3rd floor, from 1:00pm to 5:30pm.
What has been your greatest achievement with the BLOT Project to date?
I believe that the greatest achievement we have had so far is the interest and fun around the project that was showcased during Pride. The trust that people showed was beyond anything I could have imagined.
What are your future goals for this campaign?
We are looking to spread our YouTube channel through public schools. We will be creating the book within the next year as we expand into other causes, and we will also be creating art that will be auctioned for the cause.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would like to graciously thank Complections for aligning itself with BLOT, and I look forward to our future endeavours.