A visual innovator, Ryan Burke is the brand ambassador for legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath. Raised in a small town in Virginia, Ryan grew up outside the realms of fashion, makeup, and pop-culture. Using his own face as his canvas, Ryan's work transcends conventional makeup, hair, clothing and accessories and explores unusual materials that take us into another world.
WHAT IS BEAUTY TO YOU?
Beauty is authenticity, honesty and realness. It’s however you choose to express yourself. The way I choose to express myself, I’m not trying to do it for anybody else. Beauty is not about trying to be something else.
HOW DO YOU THINK OUR VISION OF BEAUTY HAS CHANGED IN THE PAST DECADE?
I think there’s a lot of confusion now. Because of social media, people are losing touch with the real meaning of things. It's all about becoming commodified and making ourselves into a product. This is not real, and I think it is skewing the idea of beauty from what it was decades ago. All this push towards people being more expressive - if you look closely people are just copying things other people did, there’s no individualism in it. People see something, and then they replicate it.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST RECENT ENCOUNTER WITH SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL?
My parents take care of blind dogs; they foster them until they find homes. One day I watched my mother take care of these animals, walking these dogs out, back and forth. She treated them like her children, walking them, checking them and holding them. Giving them the most attention that anybody could possibly give. To see that interaction, giving an animal love that isn’t going to do anything for you in life, I thought that that was very beautiful.
WHY IS THIS OBJECT BEAUTIFUL TO YOU?
I went to the Life Ball in Vienna this year with Susanne Bartsch, and it became the centerpiece of my look. I picked a very unusual color scheme and created a huge headpiece with it as the center, although I actually had intended to make it my mouthpiece. After the party I had to tear most of the headpiece apart in order to go home because it was too big for the plane. This brooch is what remains from that amazing night.
WHO WAS A BEAUTY ICON FOR YOU IN YOUR YOUTH?
My mother got a subscription to Vanity Fair when I was in middle school. It’s the only magazine I ever saw. I really fell in love with Annie Leibovitz’s photography. This one cover of the magazine, it was Bjork, and she’s centered and she was wearing this striped outfit. It was so different then, and Bjork just stole the show.
WHAT FOR YOU IS THE ANTITHESIS OF BEAUTY?
For me the antithesis of beauty is Trump. Not giving anything to the world, not helping anybody out. He is just there to do things for himself.