RAW Artists Recognized in St. Louis Semi-Finals Showcase

 In Guide, Style

St. Louis homegrown artists come together to celebrate their talents, recognizing the nine local semi-finalists in the national competition.


Though this year marked RAW:natural born artists’ fourth annual RAWards nationally, the competition was the first for the St. Louis art community—and a dream come true for the winning artists. At the RAWards St. Louis semi-finals, artists in each of the nine categories were considered by a panel of local judges: painter and SOHA Studio & Gallery owner Julie Malone, KDHX Director of Production Andy Coco and St. Louis Post-Dispatch Fashion Editor Debra Bass. Guests were also encouraged to submit votes for their favorites in each category. Creativity was the most important element for the judges, according to Malone. Brilliant talent, stage presence and professionalism were also key factors.



Tiffany G. – Makeup

Winner in the makeup artistry category Tiffany G. (Tiffany Garner) was one of the first artists RAW shocase director Sarah Faragalla reached out to when establishing a network of local talent to launch RAW in St. Louis. An army veteran from a small town outside of Fort Leonard Wood, Garner cultivated her dream of makeup artistry while stationed in Baghdad. Working nights in a hospital, Garner got to know the Iraqi women who worked in the building. The women were curious about American cosmetics, and Garner shared fashion magazines with them during secret makeup sessions. She watched as the women lit up from within as she tweaked their appearances. When she returned from Iraq, Garner started school and practiced makeup artistry constantly‰ÛÓFaragalla and RAW were the catalysts she needed to take her portfolio to the next level. “I wasn’t able to showcase my creativity before RAW,” explains Garner. “RAW gives artists notoriety and respect, and gives accessibility to a network of key players in a variety of art forms.” Tiffany G. is on Facebook, and her work can be found at tiffanyg.viewbook.com.


Unifyah – Music

The finalists from the St. Louis RAWards moved on to the national competition, judged by a mix of creative celebrities and well-known industry professionals in each field. Two of them took home national titles . Meet the nine St. Louis semi-finalists, as we chat with them about where they’ve come from, how they got involved with RAW and what their plans are for the future.


Ikonik Photoart – Photography

Winner of Raw: St. Louis Photographer of the Year, Ikonik Photoart‘s Alan Webb started his career as a photographer with the simple need for art on his walls. “I quickly realized that there was more to it than having a nice camera,” he says, “but it lit a fire in me to learn more about the craft.” While his fashion and beauty photography for Ikonik Photoart shows off the more artistic side of Webb’s work, he makes a living on lifestyle photography. Webb found out about RAW through Facebook when several of his contacts started posting their statuses as RAW artists. Faragalla called him the very day he submitted his work, with the news that she wanted to feature him in the next show. Webb says that RAW has given him the chance to have his work seen by many people who wouldn’t have otherwise seen it‰ÛÓincluding the judges of the national contest. Even though Webb didn’t win nationally in 2012, he is optimistic for this year and says, “I still loved being a part of the showcase and can’t wait for the 2013 season to begin. I’ve already started conceptualizing what I’m planning to showcase in a show this year.” Check out Alan Webb’s work at awebbphoto.com, follow him on Twitter @Ikonikphotoart, or reach him at alan@awebbphoto.com.


RAW St. Louis Finalists

The finalists from the St. Louis RAWards moved on to the national competition, judged by a mix of creative celebrities and well-known industry professionals in each field. Two of them took home national titles . Meet the nine St. Louis semi-finalists, as we chat with them about where they’ve come from, how they got involved with RAW and what their plans are for the future.



Lady Ejay – Hair

The St. Louis RAWards title of Hair Stylist of the Year went to Lady Ejay, aka Ebony Johnson. She’s been cutting and styling hair practically since she could walk. “I do everything with hair,” she says. “Well, I do everything but braid.” Her mother is a licensed hair stylist as well, “so it’s in my veins,” and Johnson graduated from Grabber School of Hair Design and Nail Technology. Last year, one of her friends introduced her to RAW: St. Louis and showed her how to submit her work. In August of 2012, Lady Ejay had her first show, in which she styled hair for 25 of the hair accessories and fashion stylists’ models. “Everyone else whose work was shown that night did an interview, but I didn’t even get a chance, I was so busy,” she says. “It was still fun because the opportunity led me to meet other people who could use my work.” Johnson says that being able to tell people she is Hair Stylist of the Year really helps her freelance business. As far as the future goes, she’d like to open her own funeral home and work on hair and makeup for the deceased, but for her, “the sky’s the limit.” Lady Ejay is a freelance hair stylist and can be reached at msejohnson79@yahoo.com or 314.532.6347.


Vodka Bacon Studios – Visual Art

Nelson Perez, founder of Vodka Bacon Studios, took home the RAWard in the visual artist category. Social worker by day, artist by night, Perez strives to maintain a whimsical and fun approach to art and life in a world where it can be all too easy to focus on the negative. He says, “I enjoy life, and I share that feeling through art. Every time someone tells me that one of my paintings makes them happy or that it reminds them of a good time, I realize that my message got across.” His RAW story began with a simple Etsy store, through which Faragalla discovered his work got his information and got him into a show. He is grateful that she did, and says that his experience with being a semi-finalist has not only bolstered his confidence, but has gotten him commissions, including designing the label for a private winemaker. In the future, Perez would really like to be able to bring his two passions‰ÛÓart and helping people‰ÛÓtogether. “It would be great if somehow I could do a community arts project, working with youths. Anything helping to beautify a community.” Check out Vodka Bacon Studios on Facebook or contact Nelson Perez for commissions or with questions at vodkabaconstudios@yahoo.com.


Haus Designs – Fashion

The RAWard for St. Louis Fashion Designer of the Year went to Haus Designs by Sierra Moses (also a 2011 Project:Design! contestant). Moses started her fashion design career over ten years ago; as a teen she went through what most do: an “awkward” stage. At this point, she began to use fashion as a way to reinvent herself. “I wanted to be on the outside what I was on the inside,” she says. Now the owner of her own brand, she is a part of the entire creation process. “I love designing, shopping for fabric, sketching and making samples,” she says. Moses’ future plans are to expand Haus Designs and to introduce her men’s collection and a plus size collection. “Being a RAW: St. Louis finalist validates my brand. I think it shows the general public there are people who trust in Haus, and they can trust in it too.” Sierra Moses is on Facebook and can be contacted at hausdesigns@yahoo.com.


Ashleyliane Dance Company – Performing Arts

The RAW: St. Louis Performing Artist of the Year award went to Ashleyliane Dance Company. Artistic director Ashley Tate, founded the company in 2007, and has herself been dancing since she was three years old. She says that although she is a shy person by nature, being on stage is a creative outlet for her. “I am always comfortable and at home when I am performing,” she says. Having a background in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, jazz funk, musical theater, hip hop and contemporary, Tate’s choreography for any production pulls not from a particular genre, but instead blends many. “I definitely like to keep everyone guessing. I think labels tend to stifle creativity,” she says. Faragalla reached out to her last summer and Tate, always open to new opportunities and looking to build her audience, signed on without hesitation. Ashleyliane Dance Company has performed three times at RAW events, and of winning in the semi-finals, Tate says: “I believe that not only does it fuel and motivate our drive to keep working hard; it has also really helped us to reach new audiences and hopefully get more people dancing!” As for her dream job, Tate says she is in it. ” I want to travel the world, sharing my work and be inspired by the work of others.” To find out more about Ashleyliane Dance Company, visit the website at ashleyliane.com, or email ashleyliane@gmail.com.

(Photo by Peter Wochniak.)


Lauren Ratcliff – Film

Not only did Lauren Ratcliff earn the title of RAW: St. Louis Filmmaker of the Year, she also took home the title for that category at the national RAWards. There are many benefits of being a national winner‰ÛÓRatcliff received a package including consultations, products and services, not to mention the opportunity to showcase her talents across the nation. Besides being a nationally recognized artist, Ratcliff is also getting to do what she says is, “the only thing I can’t imagine living without. I’ve always had my hands in paint and been attached to a sketchbook.” She dabbled in paper stop motion and claymation before college, but definitely honed her skills while in school at Savannah College of Art and Design. Ratcliff found out about and attended the first ever RAW: St. Louis event and signed up “just for kicks.” Little did she know where it would take her in a few short months. She currently works for 90 Degrees West as an animator and designer, and says she might start her own studio one day, but it’s too soon to tell right now. As far as the world of animation goes, Ratcliff says she’s a generalist right now; she works with design, illustration, 2D animation, and stop motion. “At the moment I’d like to add new techniques to my animation arsenal,” she says, “and see what direction is most fruitful.” Visit Lauren Ratcliff’s website at laurenratcliff.com or get in touch with her at lratcliffdesigns@gmail.com.


Hyper Haute Jewelry – Accessories

Creator of Hyper Haute Jewelry Erica Dunk also took home both the local and national RAWards titles in her category, accessories. Dunk went to school in LA for Fashion Design and Marketing, but when she moved back to St. Louis, she began to experiment with making necklaces. One day, she wore one of her creations into a Paul Mitchell salon and they asked her on the spot if she could make accessories for one of their shows. Excited, she wanted to impress by doing something totally different‰ÛÓshe came across a gold chain lock, which she decided could be repurposed into a necklace, and the rest is history. She loves combining things like broken mirrors, glass, and crystals with metals like brass and stainless steel. Designing necklaces is her favorite, because she says she can “go real big and crazy with it.” When her assistant mentioned RAW to her, she was very hesitant at first‰ÛÓtired of fashion shows‰ÛÓbut eventually she decided to go for it and make a profile. Now, she wonders, “What if I hadn’t done that?” RAW has put her name out there, and she recently met with Lisa Kline, owner of the LA boutique by the same name, and will be launching her line on lisakline.com on Feb. 15. Erica Dunk’s jewelry is also for sale at hyperhaute.com, and she can be contacted at Erica@hyperhaute.com.

(Photo by David Kilper Arkitography)


Photo credit: Courtesy of the artists, except where noted.

Recent Posts