Instagram user slaygracefully (aka Alexis Willis) started out posting her makeup looks before she went to school her senior year in 2017. Since then, she's fallen in complete love with the art she creates as makeup looks... That are mostly inspired by music. From Greta Van Fleet's "Heat Above" look, to Elvis Presley's "Burning Love", to even adding her own "pizzaz" to Danny Wagner's stage makeup, this girl can do it all. We spoke with Alexis about her favorite makeup brands, what her goals are and how she's able to create her own music-inspired makeup looks.
Song & Fury: Hi Alexis, thank you so much for interviewing with us. How are you and how were your holidays?
Alexis Willis: Thank you for the invite! I am doing well and my holidays were wonderful. I spent it relaxing with my family and we watched lots of Christmas movies! Thank you for asking.
S&F: So we’ll start with the obvious… Your makeup looks are absolutely breathtaking. Each look is so unique and astonishing. How did you get into doing makeup like that?
AW: Thank you so much, I really appreciate that! I originally started “slaygracefully” when I was a senior in high school (2017-2018). It started as a space for me to document the makeup I wore to school everyday, simply because I loved makeup. But over the years it has turned into an art form for me, almost an escape or a form of therapy. It’s a lot of fun and I always want it to be that way. I really got into taking my time with my looks and challenging myself creatively during the pandemic. I wasn’t going to school in person anymore and had loads of time to just do makeup. I can look back and really appreciate that small time period between March of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 because that is when I started to hone in on my techniques and practice a lot. However, I think the biggest and most important shift creatively, for me, began July of 2021. That’s when I started integrating my love for music and using face charts to plan out my looks. That is when I think the real “slaygracefully” developed.
S&F: I’m lucky if I can even fill in my eyebrows correctly much less than what you do. I scrolled all the way back through “slaygracefully” just to see how far you’ve come with makeup. How long have you been doing makeup?
AW: Well, I always mark my senior year in high school as the beginning because that is when I officially started posting my makeup onto social media. But, my mom has pictures of me from when I was about four or five years old, wearing blue eyeshadow and red lipstick. So I guess in a way, I’ve always loved it.
S&F: So a big part of why we wanted to interview you is because you’ve created a ton of makeup looks inspired by music. You’ve created looks inspired by Greta Van Fleet songs, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis, etc. How are you able to visualize those looks?
AW: I love this question. The most important thing about music (and art in general), is that a lot of the time the message of the song is up to the listener’s interpretation…the way the listener perceives the song/message can be different for everyone. So, what I do is listen and think, “how does this song make me feel?”, “how would a character in this song/story that is being told through this music, look?”, etc. I also really like to take into account the themes of the songs, the tones of the instruments, and the pitch of the singer (are they singing softly and do they sound endearing or are they really like, wailing these lyrics). For example, if a song has darker themes and heavier tones or connotations, that often determines the color palette that I see in my mind. Or if this song has an element of nature in it, how can I portray that using color and makeup. I usually say that my goal is to evoke the physical embodiment of a piece of music. It is always really exciting to get comments on photos of my makeup that say, “This is EXACTLY how I pictured someone from this song would look” or “you really captured the essence of the song”. That always makes me feel nice.
S&F: I came across all of your videos of adding your own “pizazz” to Danny Wagner of Greta Van Fleet’s stage makeup. First, I’m insanely jealous that you can copy his makeup I want to do that so bad. Also, I absolutely love Danny and have been a huge GVF fan for years. What inspired you to do those looks?
AW: Yes! I had a really great time with that series. Makeup is for everyone and it’s a form of artistic expression so to have musicians like Danny Wagner, wearing makeup on stage and out in public, is so cool and really important. I was inspired because I think the stage makeup really adds to the overall stage presence! He’s an incredible musician/performer and looks incredible while doing it. Adding my own “pizazz” came in because I wanted to add my Slaygracefully touch to those looks. The base of the look was the same but for each look I added a little more color, more sparkle and shimmer, and loads of rhinestones. I am a sucker for full glam makeup so I was really just trying to make those looks as dramatic as possible. I think they turned out to be looks I would wear on stage, myself.
S&F: So who are you inspired by for makeup?
AW: As much as I am inspired by music/musicians, there are a few makeup artists who have really been staples for me. I have learned so much about makeup and the industry as a whole from NikkieTutorials. She has always been true to who she is all while teaching you how to blend eyeshadow and create the most flawless full glam.
Another one of my favorite makeup artists is Mei Pang (@meicrosoft on instagram). She is constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity and creates many abstract makeup looks that are so beautiful. Both of these artists have inspired me to try new techniques and have really contributed to the artist that I am today and will continue to evolve into.
As far as musicians go, I would say that David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Prince have been big influences. They were not afraid to dress how they wanted, wear makeup and make killer music all while doing so.
S&F: What gives you inspiration for creating makeup looks?
AW: I am inspired by a lot of things. Music being the biggest one. There are no limits when it comes to music. And with music, the inspiration never runs dry, there is always new music to be discovered, listened to, and interpreted. I also take a lot of inspiration from the fashion industry (high fashion runways), films and photography. One of my favorites is makeup artist, Kevin Aucoin, who was huge in the 90s for his iconic makeup looks with famous models like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Cambell and celebrities like Tina Turner, Whitney Houston and Cher. He was also a photographer and would sometimes capture his makeup looks behind the lens as well. And for me, I really relate to that because I am my own model, photographer and editor.
S&F: What are your favorite makeup brands and which brands do you use the most?
AW: I absolutely love ColourPop Cosmetics. They have always remained affordable and create some amazing products. I promise I am not being paid to say this. But, they were the first brand that I gravitated towards when I first began doing my own makeup. It was a full circle moment when they contacted me to be on their PR list. I definitely use their products the most.
I also love Danessa Myricks Beauty. She has completely changed the game with her unique products including the Colorfix Eye Bases and her Chrome Flakes.
Lastly, one luxury brand that I absolutely love is Pat McGrath Labs. Pat McGrath has been named one of the most influential makeup artists of all time and her brand lives up to the name. I mean, even the packaging is a work of art.
S&F: What are your goals as a makeup artist?
AW: I have a lot of things that I would like to pursue with makeup. This year, I would really love to focus on expanding canvases by doing makeup on other people (perhaps bands), not just myself. Over 2022, I did get to do makeup for friends that I met up with at concerts and that was so much fun. I love seeing people’s reactions when I do their makeup.
Long term, I would love to tour with a band and do stage makeup for them. I would also love to work alongside creative directors for music videos and shoots to really be able to bring the vision of an album or song to life, through makeup. The ultimate goal would be to create my own brand, eventually, but I’m not rushing into that.
S&F: What advice do you have for anyone who’s wanting to get into makeup, but isn’t sure how or where to start?
AW: It can absolutely seem like a daunting task to do your makeup when there are so many people telling you what you're supposed to do, what your makeup is supposed to look like. My biggest piece of advice is: There are absolutely no rules when it comes to makeup. There is no right or wrong way to wear makeup! Just pick up your brushes and practice! That’s what I did, eventually, with time you will get better. Just hone in on that inspiration and create looks that make you feel good, that is what’s important.
S&F: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers and your followers?
AW: I would like to say thank you, truly, for supporting me and the makeup looks I create. It is so much fun and I wouldn’t be anywhere without you all. I am very excited for whatever this next year has in store.
Also, don’t be afraid! Put on that eyeliner, wear that glitter, go buy that dark lipstick. I promise you look amazing.
S&F: Thank you so much again for interviewing with us. We absolutely love watching your videos and learning more about how music can inspire makeup looks. We wish you good luck with everything and we’re excited to see what you do next!
AW: Thank you so much and thank you for having me, it was a treat.
Check out and keep up with Alexis and all of her incredible makeup looks below!