Mary Anne Carter is hard to miss: On the day she sat down with Seattle Weekly, her short crop of black hair was shellacked to her head with gel and flecked with chunky gold flakes of glitter. Her eyes were outlined in a dark slash of liquid eyeliner with meticulously drawn-on Twiggy lashes, and she sported a sequined coat, a leopard-print blouse, and a sparkly phone case.
It doesn’t end there. The 27-year-old artist and designer’s unique sense of style can be found in her line of hand-printed tanks, Ts, totes, and enamel pins under the name Jesus Mary Anne Joseph (jesusmary annejoseph.com). Her work, available at the boutique Rose Gold and online, features tongue-in-cheek feminist quips, like “It’s Not Just a Phase” and “This Bitch Face Does Not Rest.”
At the center of her line is screenprinting, a skill she started to hone at age 10, by way of an art class. These days she spends about 30 hours a week screenprinting at Pratt Institute and teaches a printing class for teens. She likes the medium for its practicality and its ease of reproduction. “Screen-printing isn’t always regarded as a fine art, and I’m OK with that,” she says. “I think art should be duplicated. Access is really important to me.”
The name of the line is a playful nod to Carter’s Catholic upbringing: Until fourth grade, she thought her Catholic school teachers were saying “Jesus Mary Anne Joseph.” That irreverent, slyly subversive sense of humor pervades much of her work.
Carter’s subtle, winking sensibility is also present in her “Femme” designs, which include an illustration of two broken-off nails on an otherwise manicured hand. Like a modern hanky code, the inside joke telegraphs its message only to those in the know. Says Carter, “I love that as a symbol because it’s recognizable only to people who are at least an ally, or understand what’s going on. So I can march that bag around my family, and nobody is thinking of it as a sex joke.”
Carter attributes her affinity for striking style to the port-wine birthmark on the left side of her face, which forced her to develop a preternatural level of confidence at an early age. She says, “I was asked what happened to my face so many times, several times a day. I quickly decided the best defense was a good offense, so I incorporated it into my look and never shied away from bold things.”
In addition to prints, Carter also carries a glitter hair gel called Holy Hairdo, which she proudly displays during our interview. As with screen-printing, Carter is attracted to glitter for its unassuming nature and its ability to spread easily. “I think glitter is cool because it’s relatively inexpensive and accessible, and eye-catching and dazzling,” she says. “We have wars over diamonds and precious gems, but since glitter is mass-produced and inexpensive, people don’t think of it as beautiful.”
“Just imagine a glitter factory for a moment,” she adds. “I hope that’s the afterlife!”