We had the good fortune of connecting with Noni Britton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Noni, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?

In my experience, my “work-life balance” is more like “work-work balance.” I recently left my day job (yay!), and with that has come with challenges of discipline. I’m not going to get fired if I wake up late or if I miss a deadline, so I have had to learn to be firm with myself to make sure I get my projects and work done on time. Everything I do now is related to art — whether it is illustration, drag, or fine art, I’m always working, which I love doing.

I try to limit access to distractions, such as streaming services and phone apps, because other than marketing on them, they really are wasting your time. I usually watch a movie with dinner on the weekend, but I don’t watch shows because I’m then committed to finishing the show / season, which is a waste of my art time. My balance between work and life is usually a breather from one style to the next. Because I work in so many styles, I usually need to take breaks to get into the mindset for my next project, so I try to sketch, read an autobiography (my favorite), or take walks to break up my day.

I have 3 separate bodies of work that I create — fine art (Kae Britton), drag makeup (The Mannequin), illustration + apparel / products (Dekaylee). I run an Etsy and Threadless shop for my illustrations, create process videos for my drawings and drag makeup on YouTube, take on commissions, and market across my social media accounts. All of that is my work and my life, so I honestly don’t really have “work-life” balance because I enjoy doing all of my art and it doesn’t necessarily feel like working.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

Inspired by Frida Kahlo, I have been making self portraits since high school, when I set my intention to be an artist. As a nonbinary person, I explore gender transformation and the physical manifestation of how it feels to be nonbinary through self portraiture. I interpret the infinite genders beyond man and woman through grayscale by using graphite and white charcoal on toned paper. As we begin to have more media representation and national conversations about gender, I’ve realized many people do not understand what being nonbinary means. I feel it is my obligation to help others to understand it through a visual representation. I use myself as a visual model, much like a mannequin (also where I get my drag name from).

I’m not sure how I came across drag online, but I knew instantly that I wanted to pursue it. I got into “drag” every Halloween since 8th grade, but wasn’t sure how to go about doing it more professionally. In college, I began participating in the amateur drag shows on campus with my friends, and started hanging out with Ginger Ambrosia, my drag sister. She showed me where to get stage makeup, how to apply it, etc. My twin (Rachel) and I then started a series called “Art is a Drag,” where I created different characters through makeup, and Rachel photographed them. We hosted the exhibition in art galleries and had drag shows at the opening reception to showcase drag as an art form. We also had the opportunity to bring drag to Electric Forest through their Monarch Program in 2017. As we continued to perform on campus, and then in local shows, I realized I loved the makeup process more than performance aspect, so I stopped performing altogether to focus on makeup transformation. I now do drag occasionally when I am inspired to do so, and have made my main focus my fine art and illustration.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We just got our very own Hamburger Mary’s (drag queen restaurant) here, so I would definitely bring them there! I’m a big fan of this carry-out Mexican restaurant, Tacos El Cuñado, and Aroy Thai, so we’d definitely get some grub there. Honestly, I’m not super crazy about going out or going downtown, so just walking around Heritage Hill to look at the gorgeous homes and Fulton Street Cemetery for the gorgeous headstones. The butterfly exhibit at Frederick Meijer Gardens is pretty nice, and a show at the Pyramid Scheme is always a good time.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My twin is my cheerleader and support. They are also an artist, so we have a great situation where we both encourage one another and are able to critique and help with executing projects. I’m extremely lucky to have been born with my best friend and creative partner, because together we have everything we need for success.

Rachel Britton Photo:

Chet Zar is my mentor, and he has taught me to market myself better, use social media wisely, and to create more traditional work. I am excited to continue working with him for my fine art and to learn from his art career.

Chet Zar:

Website: http://mannequinstudios.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/nonikbritton http://instagram.com/mannequindragartist http://instagram.com/dekayleeshop

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mannequindrag

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dekayleeshop

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCkmbf6shOd90IEYPrSriwg

Other: SHOP: http://dekayleeshop.etsy.com http://dekaylee.threadless.com TIK TOK: https://www.tiktok.com/@mannequindragartist https://www.tiktok.com/@nonikbritton

Image Credits
Rachel Britton Photo

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.