Black History Month – Day 29

Black History Month – Day 29

Today we honor RuPaul.

Model: Stephon McGee

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Hair: Natalee McGowan

RuPaul, an inspiration to many, especially those in the LGBTQ community. Known for bringing drag into a fierce part of our culture, introducing one of the first LGBTQ cultures to television and still thriving. This man has inspired many through his various forms of art. Actor, artist, model, and more. RuPaul inspires many and shows how it’s okay to be ones self. RuPaul is a role model for men and woman anywhere to just be themselves. And that’s what society needs today.” – Stephon McGee

American actor, model, singer, songwriter, and television personality, RuPaul Andre Charles, is the most commercially successful drag queen in the United States. He has won 6 Primetime Emmy Awards, in 2017 was on Time‘s list of top 100 most influential people in the world and was the first drag artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has been a pioneer for LGBTQ representation in the media, making LGBTQ a mainstream mainstay and has helped to transform the way they are portrayed. RuPaul uses his platform to speak out against social injustices and inequality, feeling that drag is a political act because it challenges the status quo by rejecting established identities. He has encouraged other drag queens and the LGBTQ to become more politically involved and has brought many important conversations regarding the LGBTQ struggles to the forefront. “Fulfillment isn’t found over the rainbow–it’s found in the here and now. Today I define success by the fluidity with which I transcend emotional land mines and choose joy and gratitude instead.” -RuPaul

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Black History Month – Day 28

Black History Month – Day 28

A tribute to Basquait.

Model: Cristian Kaigler

“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.”- Jean-Michel Basquait.

Basquait was a true personification of the word “artist”. Breaking so many barriers like racism and classism is a true testament to how powerful his art is. To be so influential in such a short amount of time, having his work range across art, literature, music and film is nothing short of extraordinary.” – Cristian Kaigler

Internationally acclaimed Neo-Expressionist painter, Jean-Michel Basquait, was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1960. He began receiving attention in the 1970s for his graffiti artwork under the name “SAMO” and later became well known for his collaborations with Andy Warhol. By the mid 1980s his paintings were being exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world. In 2017, his painting “Untitled” broke the world record, being sold for $110.5 million at auction. “Basquiat’s art focused on dichotomies such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. ” – (wikipedia) He used social commentary in his art, speaking to the experiences of the black community and criticizing the history of colonialism and racism. He died at the young age of 27, but he remains one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century.

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Black History Month – Day 27

Black History Month – Day 27

Today we honor Nina Simone.

Model: Dutchess Williams

“Activist. Black classical pianist. Traveler… But a Black Woman first! ‘There is no excuse for the young people not knowing who the heroes or heroines are or were.’ – Nina Simone. I am Nina. Nina is me. I am Black History.” -Dutchess Williams

Musical storyteller and civil rights activist Nina Simone used her talents and voice to speak out against social injustices. In her youth, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist and eventually enrolled into the Julliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, but was denied admission. To make a living, she began playing piano at a night club where she was told she would have to sing as well and she began to find success as a jazz vocalist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop and signed under Colpix Records she recorded a multitude of studio and live albums. She eventually left Colpix Records and signed with Phillips Records, changing the content of her music. She began using her songs to address racial inequality. Her song “Mississippi Goddam” was in response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the  bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Because of her outspokenness, radio stations refused to play her music and venues were hesitant to book her, which ultimately harmed her career.  “I have the utmost respect for her because she stood up for her beliefs. She sacrificed her career for her activism,” – Ernest Shaw. In her later career, she again found success and during the last decade of her life, Simone had sold more than one million records, making her a global catalog best-seller. Nina Simone has won a Grammy Award Hall of Fame Award, four Grammy Award nominations, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and In 2019, “Mississippi Goddam” was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

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Black History Month – Day 26

Black History Month- Day 26

Today we pay homage to Muhammad Ali.

Model: Mell T. Meus

“Muhammad Ali once said “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough” which really resonated with me. I’ve always had big dreams, but was also very scared of taking the risks. After learning the history of Muhammad Ali, I realized that you can accomplish anything that you put your mind to. He is a phenomenon in black history because he mastered his craft then became “The Greatest” of all time when all odds were against him. This is the true meaning of black excellence.” – Mell T. Meus


Nicknamed “The Greatest”, Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest boxers in history. He was the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three separate occasions. His fighting style was unconventional and early in his career he was considered an underdog–in one of the greatest upsets in sports history, he championed over Sonny Liston, one of the most powerful fighters in his era. “For the next three years, Ali dominated boxing as thoroughly and magnificently as any fighter ever had.” ( In addition to his incredible boxing career, Muhammad Ali is known as an activist, his messages of black pride, as well as his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”- Muhammad Ali

Black History Month – Day 25

Black History Month – Day 25

A tribute to Janet Jackson.

Model: Natalee McGowan

“I know that today we are celebrating Janet Jackson, but I would first like to take a minute to celebrate Natalee! She is our go-to for everything hair and has played such a significant role in this project. She has never turned down one of my wild requests and constantly amazes me with her creative problem solving. Plus photoshoots are just way more fun with her there! Her laugh is infectious and her positive energy always manages to overpower any stressors that we might be dealing with that day. She is one of my favorite people and I am so thankful for her.” -Jess

American singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer, Janet Jackson is one of the world’s top selling music artists–she has sold over 185 million records! The youngest sibling of the Jackson family, she began her career in 1976 on the television series The Jacksons  and appeared in several other series before signing with A&M records in 1982. She quickly became established as a pop icon and signed her first of two record-breaking multi-million dollar contracts in 1991, making her one of the highest paid artists in the industry. “Janet Jackson. The icon we all grew up with….” (Natalee McGowan) Over her 40+ year career, she has maintained her status as a prominent figure in pop culture and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 and just this month announced an upcoming tour to support her new album Black Diamond.

(source image–from the film “Poetic Justice”)

Black History Month- Day 24

Black History Month- Day 24

An homage to Billie Holiday.

Model: Francesca Howard

“Billie didn’t live a long life nor an easy one. She did however, completely redefine what it meant to sing. She found her voice admiring and imitating the great jazz instruments and likewise created a sound all her own, which during her time and long after people admire and copy. So yes, “god bless the child” and thank you Eleanora for carving a piece of history that’s all your own.” – Francesca Howard

Considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Billie Holiday had a formative influence on jazz music. Born Eleanora Fagan in 1915, she had a very rough childhood, growing up under the infrequent care of her struggling single mother, but found solace in music.  In her teens, Holiday began singing in local clubs and renamed herself “Billie” after the film star Billie Dove. She was discovered by producer John Hammond at the age of 18, who was influential in getting her recording work. Known for her expressive and often sorrowful voice, Holiday found much success over her 30 year career. Sadly, Billie had a lifetime of personal problems and died at the young age of 44 from substance abuse related issues. After her death, Billie Holiday won four Grammy Awards for Best Historical Album and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, National Rhythms & Blues Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all.” -Billie Holiday

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Black History Month – Day 23

Black History Month – Day 23

Today we honor Busta Rhymes.

Model: Sean Adams

“Busta Rhymes has been around through many different eras of hip hop and has become a hip hop legend and has worked with numerous artists building his career from the ground up. His style and attitude over the years has changed hip hop and his lyrics are also well known across the world.” – Sean Adams


American rapper, singer, actor, record producer and executive, Busta Rhymes is known for his incredibly intricate and fast paced rhyming. One of the most prolific rappers of the 90s, he played a pivotal role in the development of hip hop music– his eccentric style, visually fantastic music videos, high energy live performances and unprecedented flow broadened the scope of the genre. He has received 11 Grammy Award nominations, and has been on included at the top of many lists, including the top 50 Greatest MCs of Our Time and Top 50 Lyricists of All Time

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Black History Month- Day 22

Black History Month – Day 22

A tribute to Diana Ross.

Model: TeNesha Murphy

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Hair: Natalee McGowan

“Before Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige, Alicia Keys there was Diana Ross, paving the way for our voices, stories and culture to be accepted, appreciated and loved by all. In 1964 Diana helped her group, the Supremes, become the first female group to crossover from Rhythm and Blues to the pop chart.  Having the ability to be authentically relatable by all is a true gift from God. More souls are reached and healed that way and Diana has that gift.

Getting a chance to pose as Diana Ross brought back so many wonderful memories of her songs, Aint No Mountain High Enough, Reach out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), I’m coming out and her movies, Lady Sings the Blues and The Wiz.  A true American star and trailblazer, who happens to be black.” – TeNesha Murphy

Diana Ross, singer, songwriter, actress and producer, first found her call to fame as the lead in the vocal group The Supremes, which was the best-charting female group in US history, and is one of the best-selling girl groups of all time, releasing twelve #1 hit singles on the US Billboard Hot 100. Ross left the supremes in 1970 and released the self-named album Diana Ross, which featured the number one pop hit single, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” In 1980, her album Diana contained yet another #1 single, “Upside Down,” and a huge fan favorite in “I’m Coming Out.” Her duet pop hit “Endless Love,” has been credited as launching the solo career of Lionel Richie, who sang opposite of her.

Guinness has named her as the most successful female music artist in history, being that she has more hits than any other female artist on record, having a total of 70 hit singles, between her work with The Supremes and her time as a solo artist. Diana Ross has sang lead on a top 75 hit at least one time, every year, from 1964 to 1996 in the United Kingdom, which accounts for a 33 consecutive year run. Ross is one of the very few recording artists to have TWO stars on the Hollywood walk of fame, possessing one for her time as a solo artist, as well as one for her time as a member of The Supremes. She, along with Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. She received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

(source image by Richard Avedon)


Black History Month – Day 21

Black History Month- Day 21

A tribute to Prince.

Model: Joshua Michael King

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Hair: Natalee McGowan

Jacket: S&M Creations


(June 7, 1958- April 21, 2016)

“More than a musical legend, Prince Rogers Nelson has redefined what it means to be Black Excellence; breaking barriers in the arts, music, philanthropy, and popular culture. His contributions are not limited to being a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker; in fact, his greatest work was far from the eye of the public. He has been credited for major social justice initiatives, as well as work in advocacy, activism, and making large-scale monetary donations to individuals, families, and organizations.

In spite of his rather small stature, Prince established enormous success; winning 7 Grammy’s, 4 MTV VMA’s, 1 Academy Award, 1 Golden Globe, along with dozens of other nominations and honors, including: Artist of the Decade (2000, Soul Train), Lifetime Achievement Award (2010, BET), Icon Award (2013, Billboard), Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (2004), and many others.

It is an honor portraying such a major figure in Black History and American culture. His passion, resiliency, generosity, and values are something that I relate with. I strive to leave even a portion of his legacy. Prince is incomparable to any other artist in the world. His death in 2016, ended an era of music that we will likely never again witness.” – Joshua Michael King

(source image by photographer Allen Beaulieu)

Black History Month – Day 20

Black History Month – Day 20

Today we celebrate Stevie Wonder.

Model: Nicholas Jules

I think this is a worthy project because it captures the essence of prolific African American figures and also shows the modeling talents of African Americans in Syracuse who don’t have the same degree of platforms.”- Nicholas Jules

Child prodigy, Stevie Wonder, is one of the most successful songwriters and musicians in the history of music. Blind from birth, he became a skilled musician by the age of 8. Under Motown Records, he made his recording debut at the age of 12 and went on to record many chart topping hits. “His classical prowess on several instruments and the expressiveness of his voice has led him down a path of unprecedented fame, political impact and societal reverence.” ( His use of the electronic keyboard, synthesized sounds and the inventiveness of his phrasing made him a musical pioneer. He believed “As an artist, my purpose is to communicate the message that can better improve the lives of all of us.” and he would use his platform to organize charity events and political rallies. Among his many accomplishments, Stevie won 25 Grammy Awards (the most ever by a solo artist), was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, given the Nelson Mandela Courage Award, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

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Black History Month – Day 19

Black History Month- Day 19

Today we honor Alvin Ailey.

Model: Charles Haislah

Charles’ favorite quote of Alvin Ailey’s is “Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people.”

Alvin Ailey was an African-American dancer, director, choreographer, and activist. A leading figure in establishing modern dance in America, he founded one of the most successful dance companies in the world, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Born in Texas in 1931, Ailey grew up in a segregated world. Believing that dance is for everybody and that black America could represent the country, his school nurtured black artists and brought attention to the black dance community. “I am trying to show the world that we are all human beings and that color is not important. What is important is the quality of our work.” -Alvin Ailey. His work fused theatre, modern dance, ballet, and jazz with African American culture. Considered his greatest choreographed masterpiece, Revelations is one of the most performed ballets in the world. In 2008, the United States Congress designated the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as a “vital American cultural ambassador to the World.”

(source image by Normand Maxon)

Black History Month – Day 18

Black History Month – Day 18

An homage to Maya Angelou.

Model: Tiffany N. Jackson

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you!” Quote by Maya Angelou… This specific quote is one that pushes me to continue to write and continuously tell the remaining story of Authoress Tiffany N. Jackson, me! Maya Angelou was one of the few who inspired me to live beyond my personal tragedies and live in purpose. To have a voice but to use it wisely and fearlessly! ~Authoress Tiffany N. Jackson

Maya Angelou was an American author, actress, screenwriter, journalist, dancer, poet and civil rights activist. She is best known for her 1969 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction bestseller by an African American woman. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly talks about her personal life in a coming of age story and discusses topics such as identity, rape, racism, and literacy. On top of her career as an author, she also had a full career as a singer and a actress and became the first African American female director in Hollywood. Her creative endeavors alone give her an outstanding place in history, but she was also an activist, serving alongside big names like Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, and Gloria Steinem. Over her lifetime, she received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees– including multiple NAACP Image Awards, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album (and so many more!). The list of her accomplishments is seemingly never-ending, and to say she made an impact is an understatement. 

(source image by Craig Herndon / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Black History Month – Day 17

Black History Month – Day 17

A tribute to Miles Davis.

Model: Yahkeef Davis

“It’s an honor to be able to portray one of the most influential jazz musicians in history. His work inspired musicians around the world to take whatever style of music they play and make it their own.” – Yahkeef Davis

American jazz musician, Miles Davis, was a great trumpeter, band leader, and composer. His career spanned over 6 decades, from 1945 to 1991–He was one of the major influences in art in the 1940s and helped to shape the course of modern improvisational music. He began studying trumpet in his early teens and when he was 18 he moved from his home in Illinois to attend the Institute of Musical Art in New York City, and in 1945 he dropped out of school to become a full time jazz musician. His style was innovative and had a very creative musical imagination and loved experimenting with harmonies, rhythms, and phrases. Constantly exploring and breaking new ground, Miles Davis “changed music five or six times” ( Miles Davis has won a total of 8 Grammy Awards and in 1990 received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. “Davis is regarded as one of the four most important and influential musicians in jazz history, as well as the music’s most eclectic practitioner.” (

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Black History Month – Day 16

Black History Month- Day 16

Today we honor Ella Fitzgerald.

Model: Jamie Ann Owens

My childhood Sundays smelled of bacon, orange juice, and my grandparent’s cigarette smoke. It’s laments of Armstrong, Holiday, and Fitgerald were the soundtrack. My Sunday’s were rich in jazz. Man, the things Ella could do with her voice! It made me fall in love with her. But it was her activism, her humbleness, and drive to make the best of her life made me RESPECT her. To portray such a woman in this picture is an honor. I hope that I can only do her justice.” – Jamie Ann Owens

Ella Fitzgerald, often referred to as “The First Lady of Song”, “Queen of Jazz”, or “Lady Ella”, was the most popular female jazz singer in America for over 5 decades. She got her start by performing at amateur nights and talent shows where her natural talent caught people’s attention. Ella Fitzgerald was the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award–she won a total of 13 in her lifetime. Known for her purity of tone, wide-range, and ability to imitate instruments with her voice, her undeniable talent allowed her to perform in places and venues all over the world. During the 1950s and 60s, an era of racial segregation in America, she helped to desegregate venues and opened doors for many black performers who followed her. Because of the huge crowds she would draw, club owners found it difficult to deny her. Fitzgerald was awarded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Equal Justice Award and the American Black Achievement Award, as well as many other honors that celebrated her talents and accomplishments both in the jazz world and in the civil rights movement. “Her drive pushed her career forward, and by using her talent and help from her friends, colleagues, and manager, she was able to break down seemingly impossible barriers.” (

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Black History Month – Day 15

Black History Month – Day 15

We celebrate Whitney Houston.

Model: Gala Hughley

Hair: Natalee McGowan

Makeup: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup  

“The day has come in which young black children can look at the TV screen and see themselves represented in a positive manner. My heart is filled with joy. What a time to be alive.”
– Gala Hughley

Whitney Houston has been cited by the Guinness World Records as the most awarded female artist of all time, and remains one of the best selling music artists of all time, having sold over 200 million records. She released seven studio albums, as well as two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. She began her singing career in church, and later in highschool. She signed her first label at the young age of 19 years old. She reached number one on the Billboard 200 with both of her first studio albums, “Whitney Houston,” and “Whitney” (1985 and 1987, respectively). Both of these albums remain as the biggest-selling first two albums released by a new artist. Even today, she is the only singer/songwriter to have seven consecutive #1 singles on the US Billboard Hot 100. Her song, “I Will Always Love You,” (originally from the soundtrack for the movie The Bodyguard, which received the Grammy for Record of the Year) became the best-selling single by a woman in music history. Whitney Houston was also an actress. She appeared in the films The Bodyguard, The Preacher’s Wife, Waiting to Exhale, among others. Even though she passed away on February 2012, at the age of 48, she remains as one of the single most influential female performers of all time.

(source image from the music video It’s Not Right But It’s Okay.

Black History Month – Day 14

Black History Month – Day 14

A tribute to Grace Jones.

Model: Nastasia English

Makeup Artist: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

“There was always someone else in the way until I worked out how to make myself the one who was in the way of others.” -Grace Jones, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs

“Thank you for always bringing the heat with your beautiful unfuckwitable aura. Grace Jones Asè <3. “- Nastasia English

Supermodel, singer, songwriter, actress, fashion icon, Grace Jones has worn many hats over the course of her 50 year (and still counting) career. She was born in Jamaica but her family moved to Syracuse, NY when she was 13 and at the age of 18 signed with the Wilhelmina modeling agency. She moved to Paris in 1970 where her androgynous looks and her long limbs pushed her into the limelight, landing 4 magazine covers in under 3 months. After a wildly successful career as fashion model, she branched out towards music and in 1977 she signed with Island Records and released her debut album Portfolio. The music industry also brought her much success and she released 3 more albums before her biggest hit album Nightclubbing. The album entered in the Top 5 in four countries, and became Jones’s highest-ranking record on the US Billboard mainstream charts. Grace Jones began her acting career alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer, 1984 which led to more roles including a Bond girl in A View to Kill, 1985.  With her unique look and her larger than life personality, Grace Jones has stayed in the spotlight ever since. “If you are a fan of doing the unexpected, and I am, then it is an advantage to be highly skilled at changing your mind. If you do not want to limit yourself, then be prepared to change your mind—often.” ― Grace Jones

(source image- original was taken by photographer Jean-Paule Goude for the cover of her album Nightclubbing.)

Black History Month- Day 13

Black History Month – Day 13

A homage to Marvin Gaye.

Model: Evan Starling -Davis


“I grew up listening to everything, especially the classics; sounds and emotions carefully devised by a community that has repeatedly been deemed other, alternative, etc. i.e. BLACK. What I’ve come to know is that I prefer it that way. Culture is progressed in the margins and my people are a people of culture-making. That is what I personally consider classic. That is why I look up to pioneers like my uncle Marvin. In understanding that our sounds, our emotions are just as much alternative as they are classic to American culture, I understand that these strides are a legacy. Black history is American history; marginalized in greatness and forever changing shit.” – Evan Starling-Davis

The “Prince of Soul”, singer, songwriter and record producer Marvin Gaye changed the sound of Motown and set new precedents for the American music industry. Born on April 2, 1939 he grew up with a turbulent relationship with his father, but found peace in music–mastering the piano and drums at a young age. With an impressive vocal range and silky voice, Gaye caught the attention of Berry Gordy Jr, who eventually formed Motown Records. For the first decade under Gordy, he was a part of several groups and duets before his first solo hit Stubborn Kind of Fellow in 1962. Afterwards he had many big solo hits and several chart toppers including Can I Get a Witness, and I Heard it Through the Grapevine. In 1970, influenced by the Vietnam war and political unrest, he wrote the song What’s Going On. Because of the political message of the song, Gordy refused to release it, so a rebellious Marvin Gaye self-produced the album and it was an instant hit with the masses, winning the Rolling Stone Album of the Year Award. From this point forward, Gaye artistically branched out from Motown standards and paved the way for other Motown artists to do the same. After another decade of great success with Motown Records, Gaye signed with CBS’s Columbia Records in 1982 and began to work on his last album, Midnight Love. On April 1, 1984 he was shot and killed by his father. Three years after his death, Marvin Gaye was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “As an artist who employed urban soul music to express social and personal concerns, as well as a singer of exquisite sensitivity and romantic grace, Gaye left a legacy that has widened since his demise, and his music has become a permanent fixture in American pop.” (

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Black History Month- Day 12

Black History Month – Day 12

Today we honor Assata Shakur.

Model: Alice “Queen” Olom

Assata Shakur is the kind of woman ,black or white, that not only frustrates white supremacy, white nationalism and the racial and discriminatory system that the US built it’s back on, but also agitates the patriarchy. This is the kind of woman who in the 50s was taught to keep her head high and fight for herself in any capacity. Her grandparents taught her that. In the 50s! And for the last 40 years, Assata Shakur has been doing just that. Holding her head high, living and not just existing, even with a bounty on her head as she still maintains her innocence and lives under the protection of Political Asylum. Angela Davis concluded it best: “Forty years seems as if it were a long time ago; however, at the beginning of the 21st century, we’re still dealing with the very same issues – police violence, healthcare, education, people in prison and so forth.” Assata Shakur was able to escape a system that wanted her dead for daring to fight for herself. She speaks out against the very system that still terrorizes many black and brown folks today. She is a constant reminder to America of the Black History that will not be forgotten nor kept under wraps. She is the kind of black woman that other black women remember and ancestralize for she holds a strength, a memory, and the kind of compassion that black women have always known to embody. Assata Shakur, I salute you! It’s an honor to memorialize you!” – Alice “Queen” Olom

Civil Rights Activist, former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member, Assata Shakur is the first woman ever to be named to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, where her name remains today. Born as Joanne Deborah Byron on July 16, 1947,  she was a revolutionary from a young age. Assata joined the Black Panther Party at the age of 23, and as a leader of the Harlem chapter she helped to organize the Free Breakfast Program for children, free clinics, and community outreaches. Feeling that the Black Panther Party suffered from a lack of focus on Black History, she left the party and then joined the Black Liberation Army. Between 1971 and 1973, Assata was accused of 6 different crimes ranging from kidnapping to murder but was found not guilty on each occasion. On May 2, 1973 she and two other members of the BLA were pulled over by New Jersey state troopers. The situation escalated to gun fire, resulting in Assata being shot twice and the death of State Trooper Werner Foerster and one BLA member. Assata was charged with the murder of State Trooper Foerster and despite her denial and supporting forensic evidence of her innocence she was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In 1979 she escaped from the New Jersey Clinton Correctional Facility for Women. She traveled to Cuba 1984 where she was granted political asylum and reunited with her daughter. “What kind of justice is this? Where the poor go to prison and the rich go free. Where witnesses are rented, bought, or bribed. Where people are tried not because of any criminal actions but because of their political beliefs.” -Assata Shakur

(source image from the cover of “ASSATA- An Autobiography)

Black History Month- Day 11

Black History Month- Day 11

A homage to Malcolm X

Model: Devante Vanderpool

Malcom X inspired me to become a better man as a spokesman, leader and activist for my community. What people don’t know is before he became X his life was a struggle– being a pimp , drug abuse and not even knowing how to read. When he went to prison he viewed his life as more than what he was offering and he put a stop to his old habits. Malcom X educated himself with a dictionary and the Bible, and then became Nation of Islam. After that his story speaks for itself. What I learned from him, which is so powerful in our community, is that no matter what your past is, your future is more valuable. In our lives we can’t make excuses on our issues, people will always struggle but learning from your actions is going to lead you to your success just like Malcolm X.” -Devante Vanderpool

Malcolm X was a leader in the civil rights movement, minister, and a supporter of black nationalism. Eloquent and charismatic, Malcolm preached on the streets of Harlem and at many major universities expressing the incredible frustration of the African American people, encouraging self defense and taking action. Credited with their greatest period of growth, Malcolm X was one of the most influential ministers of the Nation of Islam until 1963, when tensions developed between him and Elijah Muhammad, the head of the group. In 1964 he experienced a second conversion during his pilgrimage to Mecca, embracing the Sunni Islam, adopting the name el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz and renouncing the separatist beliefs of the Nation. Speaking of his experiences during his pilgrimage he said “The true brotherhood I had seen had influenced me to recognize that anger can blind human vision.” In 1965 he founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity which identified racism as the enemy of justice and sought to bring international attention to the plight of the black American. Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965 but he left behind his ideas and speeches in his book The Autobiography of Malcolm X . “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” – Malcolm X

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Black History Month – Day 10

Black History Month – Day 10

Today we pay tribute to Joe Henderson.

Model: Amani Jackson

“Joe Henderson is one of the greatest inspirations to me artistically. He’s actually the musician that molded me into the jazz fan that I am today. One of the greatest saxophonists of all time and his debut album Page One will always hold a special place in my heart.” -Amani Jackson

With his career spanning over 40 decades, tenor saxophonist, Joe Henderson was one of America’s most influential jazz musicians. He had a very distinctive sound, he “wrote tunes that always sneaked a step or two beyond convention, and here, his compositions thrive on an agitated rhythmic abandon that’s part rock and part free jazz.” ( He was a trendsetter, fusing jazz with rock and popular music of the time. Henderson had a very full and eclectic career, collaborating with many other great jazz musicians including Miles Davis and Horace Silver and was a member of the band “The Jazz Communicators” as well as releasing several titles as as solo artist. Some of his more well known songs include Power to the People, Afro-Centric, and Black Narcissus.

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Black History Month – Day 9

Black History Month – Day 9

Honoring Dorothy Dandridge

Model: Destynee Raines

I’ve often been told I share the late Dorothy Dandridge’s resemblance. I hope to become even half as much of an influence as she was. A trail blazer for black actresses and singers in Hollywood — her shoes are definitely going to be hard to fill, but I always like a good challenge. It is an honor to be compared to someone like her.” – Destynee Raines

Dorothy Dandridge was the first African American actress to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and to receive, and also an Oscar nomination. She began her career as a nightclub singer in the 1930’s and appeared in a few small acting roles in the late 30’s, early 40’s. Finding leading roles as a black woman in the 40’s and 50’s was incredibly difficult, but she landed her first starring role as a school teacher in the film Bright Road in 1953 and then the title role in the film Carmen Jones in 1954 which earned her the Oscar nomination. She stood up for herself and equal rights by refusing roles that didn’t offer equality and despite her success in Carmen Jones, she struggled to find roles worthy of her talent. One of her most important roles came in 1959 as Bess in the Academy Award winning, Porgy and Bess. Setting the stage for future black actors and actresses, Dorothy Dandridge is a celebrated trailblazer for American cinema.

(source image from the cover of LIFE Magazine 1954)



Black History Month – Day 8

Black History Month – Day 8

Today we celebrate Josephine Baker!

Model: Mariah Williams

Hair: Natalee McGowan

Special thanks to Syracuse Antiques Exchange for lending us the faux fur wrap, earrings and bracelet!

“What Josephine Baker means to me: She inspires me to reflect on the things that make myself and the ones around me smile, in spite of the fact that there’s so much to be sad about. She reminds me to not fixate upon the things that are out of my control and instead to do everything in my power concerning the things that are. She is grace. She is strength. She is fun. She is what I aspire to be able to look at myself in the mirror and see reflected back at me.” – Mariah Williams

Singer and dancer Josephine Baker was one of the most successful black performers in French history. She used her popularity and her platform to help bring change to the world. During WWII she acted as a spy for the French Resistance, writing confidential messages in invisible ink on her music sheets. After the war was over she was awarded both the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honour with the rosette of the Resistance, two of France’s highest military honors. During the 1950s, she often came home to America for performances and helped to fight segregation and racism while she was here. She refused to perform at venues that were segregated, participated in demonstrations and even spoke at the March on Washington in 1963. She believed in cultural harmony and adopted 13 children from various countries, calling her family “the rainbow tribe.” “All my life, I have maintained that the people of the world can learn to live together in peace if they are not brought up in prejudice.”- Josephine Baker

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Black History Month – Day 7

Black History Month – Day 7

We honor James Baldwin.

Model: James Appleton

“My first experience with James Baldwin stems from his essay ‘Nobody Knows My Name’, a work of African American literature which exemplifies W.E.B. DuBois notion of “tragic soul-life” –a theory he uses to explain the legacy of suffering that defines the history of African Americans. In each essay, Baldwin ruminates on what it means to be black in a country whose racially oppressive social order, structures establish double consciousness amongst individuals like himself. As I approach my mid 20s I have definitely begun to feel this double consciousness. But I have started to learn to find strength in my unique perspective.” -James Appleton

Author of “Go Tell It on the Mountain”, “The Fire Next Time”, “ Giovanni’s Room“, and much more, James Baldwin is considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Born to a single mother in Harlem, NY in 1924, he was acquainted with adversity from a very young age. He used his experience as a black American to shed light on racial and social issues. Drawing from his personal life, Baldwin’s writings offer incredible insight into race, spirituality, and sexuality. He believed in the fluidity of sexuality and was very open about his homosexuality. In his lifetime, James Baldwin was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, The Eugene F. Saxton Memorial Trust Award, and The Foreign Drama Critics Award. “Baldwin died on December 1, 1987, at his home in St. Paul de Vence, France. Never wanting to be a spokesperson or a leader, Baldwin saw his personal mission as bearing “witness to the truth.” (

(source image by Richard Avedon, 1963)

Black History Month- Day 6

Black History Month – Day 6

A salute to Bob Marley.

Model: Emanuel Washington

“Bob is the king of Reggae music. His message of peace, love and positive vibrations will live forever. Jah! Rastafari!!” – Emanuel Washington

A beacon of hope and peace, Bob Marley used his music to spread messages of unity and standing up for a cause. He believed in the strength of music to bring people together and felt that such power comes with the responsibility of consciousness and influence. Bob Marley died from cancer at the young age of 36, but his sentiments live on through his music and his children. Since his death, he has been granted many awards and honors including being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame, awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “A man who battled against the hypocrisies of war, concrete jungles, and later cancer, Marley’s music always called out for a better tomorrow, asking the people to believe that no matter how dark the clouds, the sun would indeed always shine tomorrow and that there was always a chance for redemption.” –

(source image, original photos taken by photographer Dennis Morris)

Black History Month – Day 5

Black History Month – Day 5

Today we pay tribute to Angela Davis.

Model: J.C. Osuna

“I’ve always admired Angela Davis. To me she is the epitome of blackness and activism. She is absolutely iconic, from her hair to her voice. I absolutely loved being a part of this project, especially because Angela Davis is one of my favorite women in history. It was an absolute honor to portray her.” – J.C. Osuna

Author, educator, activist, feminist, philospher–Angela Davis has spent much of her live advocating for the oppressed. She is most well known for her arrest 1970 in association with the Soledad Brothers escape attempt. She was the third woman in history to be on the FBI’s Most Wanted list and faced charges of kidnapping, murder, and conspiracy but was acquitted of all charges in 1972. Davis experienced persecution at a very young age, growing up in a neighborhood nicknamed “Dynamite Hill” because of the large number of houses that were bombed by the Klu Klux Klan. She began her political involvement as a young girl in the Girl Scouts, marching to protest racial segregation and continues to be very active in political and social movements to this day.

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Black History Month – Day 4

Black History Month – Day 4

Today we honor science fiction author, Octavia Butler.

Model: Martikah Williams

“Octavia Butler was a pioneer for African American authors in science fiction. Her work demonstrates that we are not only capable of telling compelling stories, but those stories can be led by black characters. Her imagination had no limits, with her most famous works revolving around aliens, mythical and immoral beings. Her pen halted for no criticism as she addressed social constructs against black people and black women. She inspired and continues to inspire so many like myself who want to tell stories that are non typical of black characters. I’m grateful to have witnessed her creativity and have it influence my work and I’m even more grateful that I get to share it with others. Visit for more information on her books and her life.” -Martikah Williams


The first science fiction author to receive the MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the “Genius Grant” ), Octavia Butler was groundbreaking in the world of literature. She used science fiction to explore important topics such as diversity, racism, sexuality, social norms, and the self-destruction of humanity. As one of a few women (and even fewer women of color) in a male dominated career, Octavia overcame many obstacles and became one of America’s best-selling authors. She won both, the Hugo Award and the Nebula Prize, twice! Butler paved the way for other black science fiction writers. “You could fit all the black science fiction and fantasy writers on one stage, and that’s not the case anymore — the field has exploded so much!” -Tananarive Due, author (

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Black History Month – Day 3

Black History Month- Day 3

Today, we pay homage to Coretta Scott King.

Model: Keyanna Coleman

Hair: Natalee McGowan

President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history. Now known as, National African American History Month- is important to me because it celebrates the contributions that African Americans have made to American history in their struggles for freedom and equality and deepens the understanding of our Nation’s history. I had the honor of posing as Coretta Scott King, who was a forceful public figure and an important leader in the civil rights movement. Coretta also was very involved in the women’s movement. In 1988, she served as head of the U.S. delegation of Women for a Meaningful Summit (a peace movement) in Athens. She was known as the First Lady of Civil Rights. Carrying on her husband Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of making America a place where all people have equal rights.” -Keyanna Coleman

The First Lady of the Civil Rights, Coretta Scott King was a powerful leader in not only the civil rights movement, but also in the women’s rights movement and was an advocate for gay rights and same-sex marriage. Widely known for the work she did alongside her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta was an activist and involved in politics well before her marriage and continued long after his assassination. She fought for global peace and for racial and social justice until her death, at age 78. “Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation” -Coretta Scott King

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Black History Month- Day 2

Black History Month – Day 2

Today we honor American novelist, Toni Morrison

Model: Lauren Ligon

“Toni Morrison for me, was the embodiment of Black Girl Magic. She was grace & perseverance personified, and did not allow her circumstances, experiences, or societal constraints to stunt her growth & abilities – her art was unapologetic and she was unapologetically Black. Toni Morrison and Jaleel Campbell are a lot alike in these ways. I am so honored to be invited to be part of a project as important as this, to have the opportunity to highlight those who have walked among us and shared with us, a piece of their world. It should also be noted that the cherry on top is both Jaleel and Toni being born during Black History Month –Toni’s birthday being on the 18th, which holds a special place for me, as she shares this day with another notable Black woman in my life due of all recognition, My Mother. Black History Month goes far beyond a month, and individuals like Toni Morrison and so many more should be celebrated beyond these 28 days (29 on Leap Years); not only for their contributions to us as Black people, but for their contributions to the world. This project is to honor them & the legacies they’ve left behind to uphold and cherish. – As Salaam Alaikum (Peace Be With You)”

~ Lauren Ligon, LMSW


Toni Morrison, born February 18, 1931, was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was also a Pulitzer Prize-winner and the author of 11 novels as well as several children’s books and essay collections. Among her best-known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Jazz, Love and A Mercy. “She is most noted for her examination of the female black experience “Her narratives mingle the voices of men, women, children and even ghosts in layered polyphony. Myth, magic and superstition are inextricably intertwined with everyday verities….” (



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Black History Month – Day 1

February is Black History Month!

We’ve joined forces with our homie and local artist, Jaleel Campbell to put together a full month of imagery to honor some of our favorite movers and shakers! Each day in February we will be paying homage to a different inspirational figure by alluding to one of their iconic portraits. Please join us on this journey as we commemorate the struggles of adversity that our black role models experienced and celebrate their victories and the impact that they have left in their wake.

To kick the month off, we present Jaleel Campbell and his portrayal of Soul II Soul’s Jazzie-B:

“I have been obsessed with Jazzie B’s style since I was a child. His effortless cool persona, consisting of alternative fits that complement his public image has stuck with me and plays a role in the way I present myself to the world now. For Black History Month, I wanted to pay homage to Jazzie-B. Soul II Soul’s music is like no other. Some of my favorite tracks include Keep on Movin’, People, Love Enuff, and Free Again. I feel free listening to their music. No worries, just me and the sound of this dynamic group killing it. In honor of that feeling, I celebrate you Jazzie-B!” -Jaleel Campbell

Jazzie B, the frontman of the band Soul II Soul, was born on January 26, 1963, in London, England. Soul II Soul instigated a renaissance of British soul and dance music in the late 1980s. They gave black British music a voice and put sound systems and sound system culture into the spotlight. Soundsystems were custom-built set-ups of generators, turntables, and huge speakers that were used to play music at street parties and open-air dances.  Embracing the doctrine “A happy face, a thumping’ bass, for a loving’ race”, Soul II Soul brought street sounds and underground styles to mainstream music. This led the way for styles such as jungle, dubstep, and grime to develop and flourish.




(source image from the ‪Soul II Soul‬: Club Classics Vol. One photoshoot- photographed by Jamie Morgan in 1989)

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 31

DAY 31

Model: Marcela Tobar
MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup
Hair: Natalee McGowan
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

We began this journey with imagery of the Skeleton Prince, an elaborate look that Marcela had so carefully put together, and throughout these 31 days you have seen a LOT of other beautiful Halloween makeup looks that she has done, so it only seemed fitting to end this series with the Skeleton Queen herself. Thank you for joining us throughout this month as we told our favorite spooky stories!

Happy Halloween!

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 29

DAY 29

Models: Wyatt Montgomery and Rowan Montgomery
MUA: Hannah Iozzia
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

These are my “Other” children. Coraline is one of their favorite “scary” movies and they are always so interested in what Mom does at work so I surprised them with their very own photoshoot. They absolutely loved playing model and getting to sit in the makeup chair! A huge thanks to Hannah for giving me a “Mom of the Year” moment.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 28

DAY 28

Model: Margot Elizabeth
MUA: Hannah Iozzia
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

We present to you: the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town! Tim Burton’s Jack Skellington, the patron spirit of Halloween, is curious, idealistic, and enthusiastic. His strong leadership skills paired with his kind nature makes him a favorite holiday character.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 26

DAY 26

Model: Nadine Prince

Photography: Jessica Montgomery

Stingy Jack played tricks on the Devil. When he died, he wasn’t allowed into heaven OR hell and so now his soul roams the earth for eternity. Keep a jack-o-lantern in your window to scare all wandering souls away from your home.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 25

DAY 25

Model: Joelynn Avery

Styling: A Very Vintage

Venue: Syracuse Antiques Exchange

Photography: Jessica Montgomery


“But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we—

Of many far wiser than we—

And neither the angels in Heaven above

Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;”

-a stanza from Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 24

DAY 24

Model: Zoe Scialdone

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Photography: Jessica Montgomery

Newly awakened, thousands of years after death, she emerges from her sarcophagus in search of vengeance. The mysteries of ancient Egypt have kept the Western World curious for centuries. Considered a “Classic Monster”, The Mummy will forever be classic Halloween.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 23

DAY 23

Model: Rachel Hall
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

One of the best parts of Halloween has always been playing dress up. Put on a mask and a cape and be a superhero, or paint your face and bite into a fake blood capsule and be undead, or even a wig and fancy gown and be a princess. Have fun and pretend to be someone else for a day!

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 20

DAY 20

Model: Emily Anne
MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup
Designer: Chloe Schnell Designs
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

Serving as a spy for Apollo, a prophet for Bran Stark, and a mournful reminder for Edgar Allan Poe, the raven portrays complex symbolism throughout the history of art and literature. Ravens are often accompanied by bad omens, secrets, and even death. Please enjoy our interpretation of the Raven in this dark and mysterious collaboration.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 19

DAY 19

Model: Eerie Rottica
Location Scout/Guide: Marty Butts
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

When you hear the word “witch,” what comes to mind? Hermoine Granger? The Sanderson Sisters? A pointy hat and a wart covered nose? In pop culture, the term “witch” generally just means a woman with magical powers. There are good witches and evil witches. Witches with wands, brooms, and cauldrons. Witches with spells, pentagrams, and sacrifices. When we reached out to Eerie to help with our 31 Days of Halloween project, we knew that she would perfectly represent one of womankind’s most powerful magicks: sensuality! There’s a reason that beautiful women are sometimes called “bewitching…”

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 18

DAY 18

Model: Rachel Hall

Designer: Rachel Hall

Photography: Jessica Montgomery

Don’t dare to stray from the path! The Big Bad Wolf is lurking in the trees and hungry for human flesh. Hurry along to Grandma’s house or risk being gobbled up and never seen again…


31 Days of Halloween: DAY 17

DAY 17

Model: Riley Hyatt

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Venue: Syracuse Antiques Exchange

Photography: Jessica Montgomery

Do you ever get that feeling that someone is watching you? Have you been hearing strange noises? That doll your Aunt gave you just give you the heebie jeebies ? Maybe it’s possessed.


31 Days of Halloween: DAY 16

DAY 16

Model: Margot Elizabeth

Photography: Jessica Montgomery

Halloween doesn’t always have to be gory and scary. It’s also a time to celebrate the supernatural and unknown. “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Temporarily suspend your disbelief and enjoy the enchantment of the season.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 13

DAY 13

Model: Alexis Reed
MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup
Skirt: Reed Designs
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

“We’re painting the roses red.” Quick-tempered, demanding, and willy nilly with the death sentence, she’s everyone’s favorite psychotic monarch. Please enjoy this gorey reinterpretation of Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 12

DAY 12

Model: Natalee McGowan
Hair and Makeup: Natalee McGowan
Designer: S&M Designs
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

The Dark Priestess… As powerful and frightening as she is, she is equally tempting and alluring. Bound to the will of her Dark Lord, she is compelled to gather and indoctrinate unsuspecting mortals into his vile family. If she cannot persuade you with ripe promises, she will coerce you with festering visions of death and damnation.


31 Days of Halloween: DAY 11

DAY 11

Blackberry Mule

1911 Vodka
Ginger Beer
Lime Juice
Fresh Blackberries
Dry Ice (optional)

What better way to get in the festive mood than with a witchy cocktail? To make this beautiful dark beverage, let your black berries soak in 1911 vodka for a bit and then smush them up to let out all of that rich color. Add ginger beer and lime. Easy peasy. Now go get your Halloween party on!

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 10

DAY 10

Models: John O’Reilly and Jason Ngo
MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

Vampires. Bloodsucking, immortal, seductive. They are lurking in the shadows, patiently waiting for their next victim. With their heightened senses, they know you are coming from a mile away and will be ready for you. Quick and quiet, you’ll be dead before you even notice they are there. Garlic might protect you. But probably not.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 9


Model: Jessica Montgomery
MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

Photos of me are rare, and now you know why! Lol. Just kidding.

I try my best to stay BEHIND the camera, but how could I say no when Marcela asked so sweetly?! The idea of playing model gives me so much anxiety, but sitting in Marcela’s makeup chair was so much fun, and so worth it! I know I look like a gory demon with a giant maw of teeth, but I felt like a princess being pampered.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 8


Model: Breana DeVey
Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist: Chelsey Mollin of Aliyah Health
Creative Direction: Natalee McGowan
Photography: Jessica Montgomery

These photos may look creepy, but acupuncture is actually used to treat pain, stress management, and overall wellness! When Chelsey Mollin, a specialist in Chinese medicine, volunteered her services, we couldn’t resist the chance to rock some Hellraiser vibes. We learned a lot, and all had some new firsts with this photoshoot! An extra big thank you to our model Breana DeVey for being willing to have her first acupuncture experience on camera!

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 7


Model: Alina Payton

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Hair: Natalee McGowan

Designer: S&M Designs

Photographer: Jessica Montgomery


Lilith: Demon of the night.

According to folklore, she was Adam’s first wife until she was banished from the Garden of Eden. Exiled for refusing to submit to her husband and for her sensuality and freedom, she has become one of the most notorious demons. Throughout history, there are a great deal of depictions of this iconic dark spirit in both art and literature, but we like to imagine her in all black with hair horns.

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 6


Models: Celine Rahman and Nasrene Shehadeh

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Photographer: Jessica Montgomery

“Burn! Burn her!”

“Quiet! quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.”


“Tell me, what do you do with witches?”


“Burn, burn them up!”

“And what do you burn apart from witches?”

“More witches!”


“So, why do witches burn?”


“B–… ’cause they’re made of wood?”


“Does wood sink in water?”

“No, no.”

“It floats! It floats!”

“Throw her into the pond!”

“The pond!”

-Monty Python and the Holy Grail


Beginning in February of 1692, The Salem Witch Trials heard the cases of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft and resulted in the hangings of 19 who were found guilty. For Centuries people have been curious and frightened over the idea of black magic, because there is nothing more truly terrifying than the unknown. In memory of the witches and the unknowns who lost their lives to ignorance, please enjoy our portrayal of the Classic Witch.




31 Days of Halloween: DAY 5



Model: Rachel Hall

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Designer: Rachel Hall of Wishes and Wardrobes

Staff: The Art of Craftmanship

Photography: Jessica Montgomery


Maleficent. Powerful, evil, terrifying. A classic villain, first appearing in Disney’s 1959 “Sleeping Beauty”, she still has us intoxicated with her wicked wiles. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is coming to theaters later this month. Perfect timing for an iconic collaboration with the Queen of Disney: Rachel Hall!

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 4

Model: Stephon McGee

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Photography: Jessica Montgomery


“So the heathen gods placed upon the gold…a terrible curse. Any mortal that removes but a single piece from that stone chest shall be punished for eternity.” – Hector Barbossa, The Pirates of the Caribbean

Buried treasure and pirates’ curses always make for a good intrigue (and an easy, inexpensive Halloween costume). From Captain Hook to Jack Sparrow to The Dread Pirate Roberts there’s a favorite pirate for everyone! Check out our favorite pirate:

31 Days of Halloween: DAY 3

Model: Jason Ngo as Yuka Liptis as Morticia Addams

MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Photography: Jessica Montgomery


She’s creepy and she’s kooky,

Mysterious and spooky,

She’s all together ooky,


Mysterious and macabre, Morticia Addams is our favorite matriarch. Silly, spooky and sexy, she has us all enraptured. The moment we met Yuka Liptis, we knew she would make a perfect Morticia! Confident and poised, with elegance, grace, and sense of humor, Yuka perfectly embodies everything that is Morticia. *snap* *snap*



31 Days of Halloween: DAY 2


Model: Lana Stevens
MUA: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup
Headpiece: Marcela Tobar
Designer: S&M Designs
Photography: Jessica Montgomery


Don’t look directly at these images! You might turn to stone!

From DaVinci to Versace, Medusa has been an artist’s favorite subject for centuries. Legend holds that Medusa was once a beautiful maiden with golden hair.  Until one day she fell in love with Poseidon… which pissed off the almighty Athena. Athena then punished her by turning those beautiful locks into dangerous, poisonous snakes and placing a curse on her. By Athena’s curse, anyone who looks upon Medusa turns to stone.

We may not be DaVinci status yet, but please enjoy our interpretation of Medusa.


31 Days of Halloween

In celebration of the most magical of all holidays, Stay Fresh presents: 31 Days of Halloween!

We’ve been waiting for an entire year, but finally, October is here! Fall leaves, corn mazes, pumpkin spice everything, and best of all…HALLOWEEN. The one time of year when it’s socially acceptable to be tantalized by the macabre, to get down with the supernatural, and to change our appearances.

Stay Fresh has put together 31 photoshoots to help get you in the holiday spirit. Each day in October we will post images from a different Halloween themed shoot– so stay tuned!




Model: John O’Reilly

Makeup Artist: Marcela Tobar of MTMakeup

Headpiece: Marcela Tobar

Top: S&M Designs

Photography: Jessica Montgomery


Traditionally, Sugar Skulls are a symbolic part of the Mexican “Día de los Muertos” celebrations, honoring death and loved ones who have passed. Sugar Skull art has recently grown in popularity and since the movie Coco, America cannot get enough.


One day while shooting Jessica overheard one of the make-up artists we use telling model John O’ Reilly she was wanting to do a jeweled Sugar Skull with “like, waaayy too many jewels!”.  When we asked who was shooting this spectacular piece, she said she was going to use her phone. We can’t have our homies using their phones, so we stepped in to be a part of this project. It was shortly after this that Jessica decided she needed way more Halloween in our lives, and started planning 30 more photoshoots! Stay tuned to Stay Fresh design for our 31 days of Halloween.

Happy Valentine’s Day

On a Sunday evening a few weeks ago Stay Fresh photographer Jess P. shot me a text saying, “Michael wants to do an American Beauty shoot, but instead of roses he wants to use potatoes.” Immediately I texted back, “Yeah let’s do it! And I’ll pose with Bomb-Pops!” Then she said “We should get Paul with donuts. It could be a Stay Fresh Valentine’s Day shoot.” We quickly went back and forth and came up with a plan to shoot some of  Stay Fresh’s clients and friends American Beauty style, featuring items unique to each individual—items that would surround them if someone were having a steamy daydream of them.

We ran the idea past Michael that night, he was totally in. Jess, Michael and I put our heads together and came up with a plan of attack for the first-ever Stay Fresh Valentine’s Day shoot. We reached out to podcasting giant and star of Comic Book Men on AMC Bryan Johnson, Glazed & Confused owner and donut slinger, Paul Valenti, and  Sophistafunk’s main keyboard man and Funk ‘n Waffles owner, Adam Gold.


Crispyonthemic. Tots. $PUD$. These are all names our first model goes by. He has Irish heritage, raps exclusively about potatoes and if there is a dinner party happening he’s always got salt potatoes at the ready. Making Syracuse better every day with creative input and inspiring concepts for our city, Michael is one of the main gears in the machine that is Syracuse. These days you can find Michael John Heagerty promoting local art events he curates at Wildflowers Armory — a unique and vibrant shop hosting merchandise from a squadron of local Salt City Artisans. Michael is pictured, above, wearing his signature spuds and Terrell’s Potato chips. (Because he keeps it local.)


Being both a star on film and TV, Bryan Johnson is no stranger to the camera. Along with Walt Flanagan and Brian Quinn he hosts the podcast Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave. The pod has reached 400 episodes has a slew of videos, a claymation featurette, and bonus pods. To capture Bryan in this dreamy angelic pose we entered the minds of TESD listeners. Bryan is pictured here in a bed of recording cables with his trusty Shure Super 55 Deluxe wearing some really tasty Valentine’s Day threads supplied by MeUndies. Check out the podcast at, soundcloud, and itunes.


When funk master supreme Adam Gold heard what we were shooting he said, “Sign me up!” Adam owns the restaurant and music venueFunk ‘n Waffles and is the key master of the award-winning band Sophistafunk. As I’m directing him to lay in this fluffy cloud of waffles I say “Shit, I shoulda asked you to bring a keyboard”.  Of course, Adam replied, “I have one in the car!” Adam’s love for music and food brings a creative, bright and delicious flavor to Syracuse. Adam is pictured laying on a bed of his flavorful waffles with his 1983 Moog Rogue.


This next creative cherub is Paul Valenti. Paul, has created a whimsical world of confection at his donut shop Glazed & Confused. Paul and his team at Glazed, produce some of the most creative and outlandishly delicious donuts around. Paul is seen creating a Valentine’s Day sprinkle donut, laying in a cloud of his fried treats.


The Stay Fresh logo is a blue and red popsicle, so we initially thought let’s shoot Tommy with Bomb-Pops! Let me tell you, Bomb Pops? They melt really fucking fast, and when you have over 100, it turns to a purple sea of goo. So we had to resort to Plan B. We thought there are a good amount of toys, and comics around the shop lets use those! With some extra comic help from our homies at Cloud City, we created a very fun “I Spy” background featuring the creative inspiration for what Stay Fresh is today.


Thank you to everyone involved for making this a super fun shoot. Happy Valentine’s Day from Stay Fresh!


Stay Fresh Speaker Series: 001 | Aaron Draplin


Join us for the first in a series of workshops and speaking events that will keep your skills fresh!

Aaron Draplin of the DDC is rolling into Syracuse to give us a behind the scenes of the DDC workshop, and hits the stage at Funk n Waffles for a speaking event that is likely to knock your socks off!


Workshop – Behind the Scenes with the DDC
March 14th | 2pm
Funk N Waffles, Syracuse NY


Get the inside scoop with Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. and learn what goes on behind the scenes! We’ll give an in-depth walk through of some of our projects and answer questions in a more intimate setting. Tips, tricks, tales and threats from our questionable existence! Questions answered. Riddles solved. Enigmas discussed. Don’t miss out!


Pretty Much Everything: The Whole Story Behind Our Book
March 14th
Drinks with Designers 5.5pm | Speaking Event 7pm
Funk N Waffles, Syracuse NY


We got a book deal! That mythical call up to the big leagues. Hear the harrowing account of making our first book. From the contracts to the scheming, from the pagination to the design, from the tears to the nightmares…we’ll share what it’s like to cram your whole half-wit career into 256 pages. Learn about file management tips, layout shortcuts and other organizational tips & tricks that can be applied to the smallest of projects or that once-in-a-lifetime book project we still can’t believe we pulled off. And yes, the book has typos, and so does life. We’ll show examples of both from the making of Pretty Much Everything. Print’s not dead! Let this talk be proof. The entire presentation is dipped in Pantone Orange 021.

Sponsored by:
Cazenovia College | Adjacent | Terakeet | The Lab Creative | Gardner & Caparelli

Speaking Event Tickets | $20 | $25 at the door
Workshop Tickets | SOLD OUT