Sarasota Artist Paints With Lipstick And Kisses
Alexis Fraser, known as Lipstick Lex, has been inspiring positivity through her unique medium.
Armed with tubes of lipstick and an assortment of makeup brushes, Sarasota resident Alexis Fraser, more popularly known as Lipstick Lex on social media, has been spreading positivity with her unconventional art since 2012.
Fraser, 34, said that a former client commissioned a painting of Marilyn Monroe, and challenged her “to create it in a nontraditional way ... that still correlated with Marilyn Monroe.” That request led the artist to the idea of creating her paintings with lipstick and “kiss prints,” an homage to pointillism in which she repeatedly kisses the canvas.
“The idea of creating her out of lipstick, which is just such a glamorous, feminine medium, and kisses just made sense,” especially when taking into account the star’s iconic “blowing kisses” photoshoot, red pout, and sex appeal, Fraser said.
Like the majority of experimental creators, Fraser tried to “juggle” her traditional and avant-garde techniques at first, but finally came to the conclusion that if she wanted to stand out “in a sea of artists” she had to follow her unique style.
Fraser credits her husband, too, with pushing her toward focusing 100 percent on her lipstick art, admitting that originally she wasn’t sold on the idea.
“I so much wanted to continue doing the traditional route and painting with my hands like a normal person.”
In 2014, Fraser officially branded Lipstick Lex and began spreading her message in a way unlike any other.
Since then, she has had her art shown in Tokyo, Hong Kong, and London. She has sold her works to notable figures such as “Downton Abbey” actress Michelle Dockery, and collaborated with brands such as MAC Cosmetics, part of the Estee Lauder Cos. family of products.
MAC Cosmetics was fascinated with Fraser’s work, said Christian Mitchell, executive director of the company’s Global Artist Relations.
“The concept of art and lipstick was such a perfect match for MAC,” Mitchell said.
The organization reached out to Fraser in 2018 to see if she would be interested in doing a painting using their lipsticks.
“Using a combination of colors and textures she created something really beautiful!”
Fraser’s original plan was to teach art rather than pursue it full time.
An Illinois native, Fraser went to North Central College, a private liberal arts college outside of Chicago, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.
She always knew she wanted to do something creative.
“I worked various jobs while creating art on the side as a hobby for years, and then made the decision to pursue secondary education. I figured if I can’t make art for a living, which at the time believed I couldn’t, I could at least teach art,” she said.
While living in Toronto and waiting for her permanent residency so she could apply for a teaching job, Fraser began creating more art while “waiting around.”
She continued experimenting with her kiss prints, and by 2013 she was consistently selling her paintings and being commissioned. “It was from there that I decided maybe art as a full-time career could be the plan A,” she said.
Fraser, her husband, and two children moved to Sarasota in July 2017.
“While we miss the hustle and bustle and culture of Toronto, the beach, warm air, and sunny skies give us our dose of ‘happy’ on the daily. We love it here,” she said.
Some of Fraser’s artwork has fetched as much as $17,000.
The process behind her innovative paintings has garnered a fair amount of attention, too, from the way it mixes traditional and original techniques.
Fraser sketches out and conceptualizes her paintings, but instead of going in with paints, she plans out where each color should be, and begins to kiss the canvas.
If focusing on details such as eyelashes or the creases in the mouth, she will draw with the lipsticks, much like a traditional oil pastel, and use her makeup brushes to blend.
To complete the pieces, Fraser applies the last layer of “unblended” kisses, and then coats her paintings in an epoxy resin to prevent smudging or UV damage.
“The message behind my art is actually what I’m most passionate about,” Fraser said. “It’s all about the idea of spreading love and positivity and happiness.” Using kisses in her art helps “literally infuse the love and good vibes” into everything she does.
Many of her works are about subjects Fraser loves, too, or ideas she finds important to promote. In December, Fraser released her third portrait of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who today is often notable as a figure of body positivity and feminism, at Cafe Barbosso in Sarasota. The femininity of Fraser’s artistic medium and portrayal of empowering figures, such as Kahlo and Monroe, has also inspired the message of female empowerment in the artist’s works.
“It’s about self-love,” she said. “When you learn to love yourself, you can share that love with others.”
Despite the positivity and joy Fraser has been spreading, she is not without critics, which is not uncommon with many unconventional forms of art.
“People either love (the art) or some people think it’s a little quirky,” she said. “Art is a subjective thing; I don’t expect to appeal to everyone and I’m OK with that.”
Fraser said she’s unfazed by the negative comments she receives, the majority of which come online. “My mom always tells me the more hate mail you get, the more successful that means you’re getting,” she said.
It’s this type of optimism that has given the artist the following and support she has today, “I try to pull together empowerment with everything I do.”
Although the art may be physically laborious, and “it’s not an easy path,” Fraser encourages other experimental artists to work hard.
Just like she tells those trying to feel empowered, “It takes a lot of self-discovery.”