Behind the Seams, Confessions, Personal Style

Top 10 Stylist Confessions with Kirsten Bode

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Kirsten Bode, who goes glamorously by her last name (“Sounds like bo-dee. It just stuck.”), is a creative to the bone. She’s an artist, photographer and—when it comes to partnering with Bare Necessities—stylist.

Some of her body-painting works appear in Howard Schatz’s book 25 Years of Images, and she recently collaborated on Visceral: The Dark Side of Love, Lust and Infatuation, contributing a film noir-style story about two men in love in the 1940s. Says Bode, “I like my work to have a message behind it. It’s my language; it’s how I speak to people. I’m always surprised at what people get from my work.”

Of course, when you wear as many hats as Bode does, equilibrium can feel elusive. “Balance is the hardest part, but I get excited to problem-solve. I’m grateful to do something different each day, whether it be hair and makeup or painting and taking pictures—I’m just happy to be creating,” says Bode. “Plus, I find that each process feeds the others when it comes to ideas and concepts.”

Read more about her days, her work and what feeds her free spirit…

Confession #1: You already know what stirs your soul.

I was born in Long Beach, California, and grew up in both Los Angeles and Reno, Nevada. I also spent a few years in San Francisco before moving to New York eight years ago. I knew very young that I wanted to be an artist. My mantra is, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.”

My parents inspired me: With my mother being a hairstylist and my father being a special effects set painter for motion pictures, I had the privilege of going to various Hollywood movie sets. My dad would drop me off with the hair and makeup artists, and the experience of watching them transform the actors has always stuck with me.

Confession #2: Inspiration is all around….

I idolize the Golden Age of Hollywood. The storytelling of Alfred Hitchcock, the sex appeal of Jean-Luc Godard and the genius mind of Orson Welles inspire me to no end. The lighting, the women, the dramatic hairstyles and sets…I just melt for it. Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot are my style icons. All the passion and hard work that go into making images—whether it be still images or motion pictures—I love the glistening glamour of it all.

My first love is painting. My happy place is the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a Monday morning. When I was living in San Francisco and working as a hairstylist, I met a fine artist/Chinese medicine man/yogi while taking a walk through my Chinatown neighborhood. This man fascinated me. He became my friend and art teacher. His walls were covered in beautiful oil paintings and sculptures. I would trade him work in the studio for classical painting techniques; he would chain-smoke and play guitar while directing my painting.

All of this is to say: Never underestimate the power of a good stroll and some curiosity.

Confession #3: …but inspiration can be fleeting.

The challenge of being an artist is staying motivated and being able to push through a project even when you’re questioning yourself. I think having an open heart and mind and a positive attitude are the most valuable characteristics needed to be able to produce work with consistency.

Confession #4: I couldn’t create without coffee.

A typical day at the studio for me: I wake up, then my boyfriend makes me the biggest, blackest cup of New York coffee you’ve ever had, which fuels my morning of checking emails, petting my cat and/or getting started on a project unless I’m shooting, in which case I’m carefully constructing my hair and makeup kit to best suit the day. If I’m not working on-set, I’m usually going to meetings to plan shoots or retouching my own images.

Confession #5: You can’t make art in a vacuum.

I think really knowing your team and their strengths and having great communication is key. Keeping positive energy flowing and just having fun makes a shoot more successful. I enjoy creating with people I love, and I’m grateful to be surrounded by so many creatives who really help each other. I love my job because I get to work with so many wonderfully talented people, like my family at Bare Necessities.

Confession #6: Staying healthy is the secret to success.

The healthier you are, mentally and physically, the more energy you have to keep creating. I try to get in some stretching and exercise about halfway through my day. I also love boxing and yoga. Those are my methods of de-stressing and getting myself feeling strong and confident enough to keep going.

Confession #7: Keep the end goal front-of-mind.

I’m driven by my desire to see things change. The process, from the start to the finish, is very exciting. From an idea, maybe you made a drawing, and from that drawing you made those images come to life, and that moment is exciting to see. A dream come true, if you will.

Confession #8: It always helps to get a fresh perspective.

I love traveling, experiencing different cultures and trying new things; I think it’s the best way to clear your mind and start fresh.

Confession #9: The biggest risk is not taking risks.

Don’t wait. Procrastination and fear are hard for anyone to overcome. If you have an idea, large or small, you must be willing to fail to create anything innovative.

Confession #10: Always dress the part.

I’m big on classic hairstyling, so I’m a fan of setting the hair properly. You also can’t go wrong with a can of Elnett, and I can’t live without Oribe styling products. My secret is a great-fitting bra. I love feeling sexy under my clothes. It’s for me. Lingerie is my guilty pleasure. My favorite brands are Panache, Dita Von Teese and L’Agent.

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Brooke Glassberg
Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, calligraphy, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.
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