Ziggy Stardust's Daughter Is Alive and Living in Nashville
Talking to Juliana Horner about her unfettered creative output—designs, drawings, performances, photography, makeup videos, and everything in between.
This article originally appeared on Creators.
David Bowie never died. In fact, it's hard to deny his presence in the heart of every artist on our site and in the mind of nearly every reader. One look at Juliana Horner, and it's even harder to deny Ziggy Stardust's resemblance, as if, before evacuating his mortal coil on-stage at the hands of "the infinites"—read Ziggy's entire origin story here—he made a pit-stop in Nashville and conceived a conspicuously human daughter.
It's hard to talk about Horner's work without talking about Instagram, both because she broadcasts to an enraptured audience of 42,500—ourselves included—and because its four-taps-to-transmission format is unmatched for her brand of anything-goes creative output: designs, drawings, performances, photography, makeup videos, and everything in between. The oldest of seven children, even over the phone the Pratt Institute Fashion Design grad has the vibe of someone for whom total creative transmutation proves no obstacle. A mutual friend described her simply: "She's an angel."
While I'm not much for canonizing (mythologizing, however, is fine) I am inclined to believe him. Creators spoke to Juliana Horner about art, Instagram, and returning to Nashville from New York City.
Creators: Your background is in textiles. Tell me about the earliest experience you remember just foolin' around with makeup.
Juliana Horner: I suppose right around the time Avril Lavigne and Evanescence hit the scene when I was in middle school, I developed an interest in having a pair of raccoon eyes of my own. I was very into the… darker side of 5th grade, if you will. I switched schools many times when I was younger and figured if I was going to feel left out I might as well look left out too, so black eyeliner and terribly tweezed eyebrows it was.
You seem like a pretty private person, but much of your practice is extremely public. How do you find a balance?
My immediate reaction is to say I haven't found a balance and I never will. There is a torturous demon inside of me that is ripping out of my soul and forcing me to create new and exciting things to share, while my shy, weak, early arthritic human body is like "no, please stop."
Do you think you learned more in art school, surrounded by people, or working solo after graduating? And why?
While I prefer working alone, I know very well that I learned an equal amount before and after graduating. Art school, in addition to new skills, gave me something to disagree with. I learned very quickly to stop asking for my peers' and teachers' opinions. You can't go on with your life as an artist agreeing with everything around you and saying "this is fine". You have to find what you dislike, bounce off of that, then kickflip in the air and blossom into the unique and unreproducible thing that you are.
You studied fashion. How did that education (if at all) serve to inform your current work?
Studying fashion brought a level of refinement to my work. The program was stressful. At the time half of me hated it, but the other half was exhilarated and grateful to have the time, space and resources to create anything I wanted. You have to kill a part of yourself to learn anything- to develop a style that belongs to you.
Can you tell me a bit about your decision to move back to Nashville from New York City?
At the end of school, I felt a little broken. I am the type of person that once they decide on doing something, they take it as far as their body will let them. I did that with school in New York. All of a sudden, it was over and it was like the wind had been knocked out of me. I had to move far away from it to digest and absorb what had happened. In the meantime, sort of without me realizing it, my truth began to manifest itself and I slowly developed into what I am now, whatever that is.
What's an average day look like for you, if there is such a thing?
Coffee is pretty much the only consistent thing about my schedule. And staring at my phone. Can we please switch to Google glasses already? My hand and neck are killing me. In the morning I like taking hikes and walking in my neighborhood. During the day I'm either at work at the craft store (my mom's), shipping art ordered from from my website, doing freelance work or working on my own art. Other activities include hula hooping, skip-hopping, playing piano or my midi, singing in strange voices and dancing that doesn't really qualify as dancing, more like therapeutic movement. At night I drink wine and do my makeup.
For someone who's never been to Nashville, how would you describe it?
Very green and lush and muggy during the summer. While it's the worst place in the world for allergies, somehow 20 days a year of the most blissful, blooming weather in the spring makes up for everything. The fall is also amazing. It's a growing big/small city, and there's things to do when you want them. You can go to a shitty dive bar and have the time of your life drinking a bucket of beer and smoking cigs indoors or put on your platforms and go to a weird 1920s-style "New Nashville" rooftop hotel bar with $20 drinks. And music is always happening everywhere. And if you want to go downtown to the neon lights on Broadway and buy some cowboy boots and sing karaoke with the vague stench of throw up hanging in the air, there's always that too.
Finally, your audience only gets to see the perfected end results. Do you have any 'major makeup fail' stories that you hope readers will immediately forget after reading this?
I can't really think of a particular instance, but there is one thing that is pretty funny to me: I take a lot of singular pictures of either my right or left eye, as we know. To do this, I have to get the camera very close to my face, which distorts the outer corners of the image. I'm sure everyone is pretty familiar with this aspect of their phone camera. What I'm trying to say is, if I didn't crop those pictures, I probably would not be doing this interview with you right now.