Some artists use oils to create paintings. Others use acrylic or watercolor. Alexis Fraser—or “Lipstick Lex,” as she’s known to her 20,000-plus Instagram followers—uses lipstick.
Fraser, 35, wasn’t always a lipstick artist. In 2011, she and her husband, Josh, relocated from Chicago to Josh’s native Canada. In the two years that it took for the couple’s permanent residency applications to be processed, Fraser worked on her craft.
“It was a blessing in disguise, because I had time to create art of all types—painting, sculpting, building,” she says. “I did it to pass the days, and then would post what I made to Facebook.”
At the time, she was dabbling in “a lot of unconventional methods—crazy stuff,” she recalls, like painting with beer and wine or creating pet portraits out of dog food. She posted time-lapse videos of her process to YouTube. Then, in 2012, she began working on a 5-foot-by-7-foot portrait of Marilyn Monroe. “This piece needs to be epic,” she thought. “How can I create a portrait that correlates with her?”
The answer, it turned out, was lipstick. “It felt so feminine and appropriate, so Marilyn,” Fraser says.
She began working on the portrait, sealing it with actual lipsticked kisses. Her husband filmed the entire process, and the video they posted gained thousands of views and set Fraser down a career path as a lipstick artist. In 2014, she branded herself “Lipstick Lex” and built her first website.
When the Frasers moved to Sarasota in 2017, she says, “I got active creating content, being on top of social media, reaching out and soliciting myself for jobs.” The work has paid off: Fraser has since been featured on Good Morning America and Access Hollywood, and in USA Today and Business Insider. She paints live locally at Café Barbosso twice a week, and recently appeared at events for Sephora and IT Cosmetics in Los Angeles. On Instagram, she posts photos and videos of her work and dispenses upbeat advice, like “Five tricks to feel damn good about yourself!” or “Love yourself more and your life will love you back.”
Her portraits are pop art in style. Recent subjects include David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, Meghan Markle, and Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi. In March, Fraser opened a gallery in the Rosemary District, which she hopes will become a showplace for her work, and a community space for music, workshops, parties, food and drink tastings and more.
“It’s taken me a while to figure out how to do this, and what works,” she says. “Once I started setting the bar high for myself, everything started to happen. My work is made with love to spread the love.”
The Lipstick Lex gallery is located at 1419 Fifth St. in the Rosemary District. For more information, visit lipsticklex.com.