Abby Ruhman — Voices from the GoPro Mountain Games, Episode 1

Voices from the GoPro Mountain Games: Episode 1 

Abby Ruhman

Abby Ruhman is a professional makeup artist with Alopecia Totalis who uses her body as a canvas to advocate for change when it comes to outdated beauty standards. Art and creativity are central to the Mountain Games: public art around town, live music happening nightly, the mountainous backdrop of Vail Valley, even photo booths set up for puppy portraits.

Abby was a big part of that too, and in her conversation with Gabaccia Moreno—they talk at the Mountain Games about how Abby finds inspiration in nature, provides some tips for those who want to wear makeup into the outdoors, and give us the opportunity to contemplate the artistry we bring with us when we step outside.

About the series:

Travel with She Explores for a weekend of adventure, art, music, and community at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado. Through conversations with four women outdoorists and through the ears of first-time Mountain Games attendee Gabaccia Moreno, listeners have the opportunity to experience the games from afar and contemplate adventure in their own lives. 

This special She Explores miniseries is made in collaboration with the Vail Valley Foundation with support from LifeStraw.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Find the episode below, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you stream podcasts.

Featured in this episode: Abby Ruhman

Hosted by Gale Straub & Gabaccia Moreno

A Production of Ravel Media

Resources

Sponsors:

All Four Episodes of Voices from the GoPro Mountain Games Are Available Now Wherever You Listen to She Explores

Music licensed through MusicBed

Podcast Art by Hailey Hirst


Featured in this episode:

Abby Ruhman

Gabaccia Moreno was on-site in conversation with Abby at the Mountain Games!

Photo by Pat Brady


Enjoy this episode? Rate us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. It’ll help other people find us. You can also share this podcast with a friend. Thank you for your support!

TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gale Straub – Narration:

This special 4-part series is made possible by LifeStraw. LifeStraw makes water safe to drink through their intentionally designed products for outdoor adventures, travel, and home. With every filter and purifier they sell, a child in need receives safe water for an entire school year. GoPro Mountain Games is proud to partner with LifeStraw to help make a weekend of adventure and community possible. Learn more at Lifestraw.com.

Abby Ruhman:

There is inspiration everywhere. It can be for me, the sun is a huge inspiration. I’m really drawn to those warm tones trees. I mean, if you take a minute to like look at a tree, it’s mind blowing to think that every little shape of bark fits with all the other shapes, like it is art nature is art. You know, so for me, those worlds just collide so beautifully.

Gale Straub – Narration:

You’re listening to Voices from the GoPro Mountain Games, a She Explores podcast miniseries made in collaboration with the Vail Valley Foundation with support from LifeStraw. I’m Gale Straub, and a couple of weeks ago, we sent Gabaccia Moreno to Vail with a field recorder to capture the Mountain Games and to interview four women she met there, who in their own unique ways, are emblematic of the spirit of the event. If you’re new to the Mountain Games, it’s a four day outdoor festival that celebrates adventure, art, music, and community. But don’t take it from me, take it from Gabaccia – fresh off her weekend:

Gabaccia Moreno:

Woof, what didn’t happen? It was so packed with fun everywhere you turn everywhere you walked by. There was literally something happening. If you were walking down the trail and suddenly you look over the river and there were kayakers or up paddle boarders, or, you know, people cheering, waiting for their person to, to swing by on the river. It was just a lot of energy. I think people were really excited to be outside. You could tell there were families, there were friend groups, there were coworkers hanging out. There was just a lot of excitement and energy just happening. I think for me, it was just the weekend was just happening.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Art and creativity are central to the Mountain Games, and Gabaccia saw it everywhere: public art around town, live music happening nightly, the mountainous backdrop of Vail Valley, even photo booths set up for puppy portraits. Makeup artist Abby Ruhman was there too:

Gabaccia Moreno:

I actually ran into her the first day and she was painting herself inspired by the GoPro mountain games poster.

Sound from the Games:

Oh hey! [Gabaccia and Abby running into eachother]

Gabaccia Moreno:

So she was doing this cool art. Then she had all these kids around her and just watching and inquiring to get painted on as well.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Abby Ruhman, or AbbyWrenArtistry on social media, is a professional makeup artist.

Gale Straub:

When you say full makeup, I know that for me, if I think of full makeup, I think of the foundation and mascara and lipstick and yeah, just someone being fully done up. But what do you mean when you say full makeup about Abby?

Gabaccia Moreno:

Abby is a master of makeup because she has alopecia totalis, which means she’s lost all of her hair. She uses her whole upper body as a canvas. And that goes all the way back on, on her head and her neck and everything. So it’s just this very beautiful sight because she’s a walking work of art. And you wonder, how does she do it on herself? It’s probably, you know, obviously all her years of experience in makeup and especially in the past year, as she’s done more makeup on herself. So it is just this present, living art. That’s what I mean. When I say Abby Ruhman shows up in full makeup.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Abby as living, breathing art is also advocating for change when it comes to outdated beauty standards. Gabaccia described her as the kind of person who just makes you feel better in their presence, and this comes through in their conversation, too. They sat down at their hotel at the beginning of the Mountain Games to talk about Abby’s art, how she finds inspiration in the outdoors, and more.

Gabaccia Moreno:

What brings you to the GoPro mountain games?

Abby Ruhman:

This is actually my first time at the games. Um, my partner, Wade and I drove out. We did a six day long road trip from Los Angeles all the way out here to Vail, Colorado. And it has been quite the journey. It’s my first time, but I will surely be back because this is one of the coolest outdoor gatherings, wild, adventurous events that I’ve ever been to huge fan so far. Oh, nice. What is it about it that you like the most so far to be honest so far, it’s been the people I have met so many cool people and the games are obviously awesome. They’re obviously really creatively done and super full of lighthearted fun. And you know, like the doc dogs, like there’s so many great events that are really, really fun and uh, and well organized. But so far the people that I’ve been able to connect with from the different media teams that we’re working with to the people just attending the games. I met so many cool little kiddos today and I did some face pain on people and I just am like, I’m meeting so many cool people. My heart is just overwhelmed. Okay.

Gabaccia Moreno:

I got to stand in line for that face makeup stuff. Yeah,

Abby Ruhman:

Let’s do it. I’m super down

Gabaccia Moreno:

What word would you use to describe the energy of the weekend?

Abby Ruhman:

Oh, the energy of the weekend. I think the energy has been electric so far. I just, I feel like every time I meet someone and I get to hear their story, or we talk about what’s going on or how we can collaborate or work together, I just feel like it’s in the air. It’s like electricity is in the air. I love it. And I think it’s so important to have those connections now after the year that we kind of just had, it’s been really, really nice to reconnect with just other humans again. So I’m soaking up every little bit of that.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Ah, yeah, that sounds really wonderful. Could you share your make-up origin story?

Abby Ruhman:

Oh my gosh. Yes, it is a long one. Are you ready? So ready? No, I’ll I’ll try and keep it short. Yeah. I grew up in rural Montana, a little town called Paulson, maybe 4,000 people. And it’s in Northwestern, Montana, just a few hours south of glacier park. So really beautiful area. And I grew up in the mission, mountains, hiking, biking, um, exploring with my family, all that stuff. And after high school I went to school to study psychology. So I went to the university of Alaska up in Fairbanks and I lived in the frozen cold Tundra for about five years and yeah, I got my degree and I thought that that was going to be my path. And soon after I just kind of realized like, this is just not for me, I need more art. I need more color in my life. And so I had always been really passionate about makeup.

Abby Ruhman:

I had always done crazy makeup on myself and been really interested in learning new tips and techniques and stuff like that. And it was actually my mom one day, she was waiting for me to put on false eyelashes. I think one day she was like, you know, you could probably do this professionally and I don’t know why, but it just didn’t occur to me that I could maybe make a profession out of it because I was just so passionate about it. It always seemed like such a hobby. And my mom was the one who, and it’s ironic because she has never worn a trace of makeup, does not own a makeup bag. So like an old school hippie doesn’t even hardly wear lip balm. So she’s just the sweetest ever. But she was the one who encouraged me and said, you know, you could probably do this.

Abby Ruhman:

So, you know, you’re really good at this and you really love it. You should really pursue it. So I looked into makeup schools and I, my dream school, which was John Casablancas Institute in Vancouver, BC. So I was working as a bartender at the time. And I started saving up from my three jobs. I got two more jobs and just started saving all the money I could. And I moved to Canada. I got a work and study visa and I just went for it. I studied fashion and beauty makeup there. So I learned a lot about runway makeup and how to do editorial and really cool creative, um, special effects makeup, and how to work on other people. And the biggest thing I took away from that was really hygiene. How to sanitize, how to work as a professional, not just an enthusiastic from there.

Abby Ruhman:

I, I moved, I met Wade, which is a whole other story that I in Canada. Yeah. Yes. In Canada. It was funny enough. We’re both from Montana. Did not know each other at the time, but so then we moved back to Denver and I, I continued working as a makeup artist there. I worked at New York fashion week and we did lots of, you know, Denver fashion week and a lot of different, really cool creative projects there, but strictly working on other people at that time, I wasn’t really working on myself.

Gabaccia Moreno:

So how did that start?

Abby Ruhman:

Yeah, that was such an evolution. And it really started with losing my hair. I have alopecia totalis, which is an autoimmune disease. It’s actually fairly common, but I think a lot of people hide it. A lot of people wear wigs or hair extensions, which, um, I definitely wear hair extensions for the longest time, but I actually had alopecia in high school.

Abby Ruhman:

I noticed clumps of hair falling out in high school. And it was such a weird time because I was 15 years old. So you’re trying to just figure out who you are and who you want to be. And lots of comparison with other women. But yeah, my hair just started falling out in the shower, but then after high school, it grew back, it was the strangest thing. It kind of grew back in. And so when I met Wade fast forward to, you know, several years ago I had long blonde hair. And so I looked very different than I look now. Yeah. It was in 2018 when we were living in Denver, I noticed that my hair was like really thinning out handfuls and handfuls in the shower. It was pretty traumatic. And I was like, oh, here we go. Again. Like I’m, I’m buckling up for this reoccurance of my alopecia.

Abby Ruhman:

And I had had bald patches reoccurring over the past 10 years since high school, but it hadn’t gotten so extreme to where it all fell out. And in December, I think it was December of 2018. Most of my hair had fallen out by then. So I was wearing hats and scarves and stuff like that to try and cover up my bald patches. But they just got so bad that it was most of my scalp. So when I weighed in, I were at home and I was like, you know what? I think I’m just ready to not deal with this. And I’m just going to embrace it and let’s do it. Let’s go bald. And he gave me a shot of rum and then he took the Clippers and yeah, we shaved my head together. It was, it was awesome.

Gabaccia Moreno:

And you look amazing. Oh, thank you.

Abby Ruhman:

Oh thank you, that’s so sweet. It’s. Yeah.

Gabaccia:

Like if, you know, if you wouldn’t talk about you having alopecia, like I would think that this is just your look that you choose.

Abby Ruhman:

Right, it’s so funny. Cause I get that a lot. People are like, oh, I love your haircut. And I’m like, thank you. It’s not really on purpose, but it works.

Abby Ruhman:

So yeah, it’s, I’ve, I’ve grown to love it and I’ve grown to really obviously accept it. I, you know, it’s become a huge part of my career now because I’ve been focusing much more on advocacy now and on just really spreading the message that whatever it is, whatever, whatever challenge it is, whether it’s visual or, you know, physical or something like that, I’m hoping to encourage people to face it, head on with courage, not just like accept it, but wear it proudly, put it on a flag and wave it around and be like, this is who I am.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Yes. And you’re definitely leading by example.

Abby Ruhman:

Thank you. I love that. Try my best.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Yes. Um, how did your skillset evolve to all the range of creations that you do? I mean, I think like one of my favorite things I’ve seen on your Instagram is that makeup piece where it’s the shark that it’s eating you, but like it’s painted on you. It’s so cool.

Abby Ruhman:

I love it. That you know of that looked, that was such a random one, but yeah, the, I think like the skillset just over time, it’s just like anything, the more you do it, the more ideas UK and the more your skillset evolves. And to be honest, it was a lot about learning about tools too, using smaller brushes to get more precision and learning more about the best paints to use. I mean, it’s always kind of been like that for me. It’s always been about working with what I have because I, you know, I didn’t come from a lot of money and I was always kind of just using what I had to make it work. And so over time it’s been awesome to be able to upgrade things like that and get better lighting and camera to take my photos with instead of my phone. And you know what I mean, things like that. So it’s just been an evolution over time.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Oh, that’s really cool. In what ways do you find inspiration for your artistry in nature?

Abby Ruhman:

I love that question so many. Um, yeah, so many different ways. I think something about being rooted in Montana, like having, coming from a place like Montana, I feel like I’ve just been so connected to nature my whole life Wade. And I both feel strongly about that. He’s more in the adventure side of things, but I really feel like there’s so much creativity in nature that sometimes we overlook because our lives are crazy and moving fast and we’re trying to coexist with nature. But I always find that when I slow down and take it in whether that’s hiking or I’m trying to keep up with Wade on a mountain bike, I try my best things like that, just out in it there’s inspiration everywhere. It can be. For me, the sun is a huge inspiration. I’m really drawn to those warm tones, like golden hour Hughes and oranges and reds and pinks.

Abby Ruhman:

Um, those are my favorites and trees. I mean, if you take a minute to like look at a tree, it’s mind blowing to think that every little shape of bark fits with all the other shapes, like it is art nature is art. You know, so for me, those worlds collide so beautifully and it’s something that it’s always been really interesting for me because growing up in a family that was so active, like makeup artistry and the outdoor recreation worlds, they don’t really come together very often. And so I think it’s, it’s a cool thing to kind of try and bring them together. And I think that’s where a lot of my inspiration does come from. Like we were at the grand canyon a few months ago, I think in March and I was absolutely blown away. It was my first time seeing the grand canyon and I was just, I was emotional.

Abby Ruhman:

It was unbelievably beautiful. And we got there for the sunrise and it was just like, it was one of those moments that lasts a lifetime that just kind of like takes your breath away. That’s so cheesy, but it’s so true. Like, wow, how lucky are we to be living in this, on this earth, in this amazing place? Like it just a lot of my creativity, I think, comes from moments like that that are just deeply emotional. You know, to be honest, that moment at the grand canyon was one of my favorites when it comes to nature, just because I was, it’s such a different landscape that I’m used to growing up in Montana. I saw so many mountains and mountains are beautiful, but they’re like, I’m more familiar with them, you know, same with like pine trees and, and, you know, leaves and all that stuff. But the desert landscape and that really kind of like arid dry landscape is so unique to me still, I’ll never get used to it, but I think that’s why it struck me as such a inspirational moment artistically, because I was just like, wow, this feels like I’m on Mars. You know? Like it just transported me to a totally cool mindset.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Did you get a makeup piece from it?

Abby Ruhman:

Yes. So I ended up, I spent about four hours and I actually did my makeup in the front seat of our truck because that was

Gabaccia Moreno:

at the grand canyon?

Abby Ruhman:

At the grand canyon. Yeah, because it Was so windy outside. I sat in the front and I was just looking out at this sun coming up and I spent about four hours a night. I did just kind of an abstract, really cool pop of color look with totally different colors that I had never really combined before. And I was listening to music. It was just this moment of just major inspiration and a lot of colors I’m inspired by what, what my surroundings were a lot of reds and pinks and oh my gosh, the terracotta of that earth. Like, it’s just unbelievable.

Gabaccia Moreno:

I know you just brought me back to my first time at the grand canyon, which is also related to my first trip with my partner.

Abby Ruhman:

Oh, really? I love that.

Gabaccia Moreno:

And same, We just got there at sunrise and yeah. Breath away. So how are you bringing your artistry to the games this weekend?

Abby Ruhman:

Yeah, I’m stoked to be at the games with my paints because I’m doing a few different things today. I brought my face paint down to the town square. I saw you there and yeah, it was really fun. I just, I set up under a little umbrella and I just brought my mere with me and my paints and I sat down and I was taking inspiration from kind of the poster design of the mountain games. So the whole GoPro mountain games logo. It’s a really cool image with this mountain, this black mountain and then an orange swirl that kind of represents water kind of swirling through the mountains. And I knew that I wanted to use the blues and orange of their logo colors. Yeah. So I covered my chest and my arms in blue and use, you know, these, I guess kind of complimenting swirls with orange and white. And I painted a little kayaker and I have a mountain bike around there and

Gabaccia Moreno:

There’s like one coming down your chest, the other one it’s climbing up.

Abby Ruhman:

Yeah. He’s going on a ride. Of course I painted my head that’s for me because I have this bald canvas. It’s perfect. Why not paint it?

Gabaccia Moreno:

Do you have any tips for wearing makeup outdoors?

Abby Ruhman:

Oh yeah. Tons of tips. Where do I start? It’s funny because I think a lot of people, like I was saying earlier, they think of those worlds being so separate, like makeup in nature or being outside and doing makeup as I should take my makeup off because I’m going to be outside. But for me, you know, I don’t have any natural eyebrows or eyelashes, so I have to draw my non from scratch every single day, every little line. And so for me that really helps bring out my femininity and it’s a fun experience. And I think that’s a good summation of how I see makeup in general is it’s artistic. It’s not a vanity metric. Right. But more of an expression, just a really fun outlet to flex creativity, you know, in terms of wearing makeup outdoors. I love sunscreen. I’m a little bit neurotic about it because I think my younger years I could have been wearing a lot more of it, but so that’s number one is like a really high SPF.

Abby Ruhman:

Um, is that where you start that’s number one. Yeah. After skincare SPF, and then I do my makeup and then I reapply sunscreen over top. I’m a little crazy about it, but I’m pretty exposed with no hair. So, but then yeah, a great skincare routine. So making sure that your skin is prepped underneath makeup is something that I could not recommend to people because if you know, if your base looking good and your skin is feeling really healthy and hydrated, that’s something I felt right away coming into Colorado is so dry. So, so dry compared to California where we live now immediately, my skin is just like begging for moisture. So a great moisturizer. And then if, if you like to wear foundation, I always recommend a good long-lasting powder foundation for the outdoors because it does look a little bit more natural and it just wears away nicely versus as liquid or cream foundation. Sometimes those can, if you’re sweating and moving around and doing a lot of activity, they can kind of move around a lot.

Gabaccia Moreno:

They’ll move around with yeah, exactly. They’ll redo your art. Yes, exactly.

Abby Ruhman:

But a powder foundation is great because a lot of them have SPFS in them. So you can find some really great powder foundations with some protection from the sun, as well as a little tint and coverage. So if there are any blemishes or anything that you’re interested in covering powder foundations are great for that last but not least setting spray that is like next to sunscreen. My favorite step is just absolutely drenching myself in setting spray and then fanning it down so that it locks everything in. But it also helps any makeup you have on your face, like settle in and adjust to your skin so that it doesn’t look any bit of powdery or kinkiness setting spray to top it off.

Gabaccia Moreno:

I’m officially going to try this. [inaudible]

Abby Ruhman:

Those are my top tips for the outdoor makeup scene.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Thank you. No, I appreciate it. Well, congratulations. It really seems like you guys are having fun with the work, which is what else can we ask

Abby Ruhman:

For? Right. Thank you so much. Yeah. We’re, we’re really grateful to be busy and more than that, just to be doing what we love, man. That’s what it’s all about. We’re fortunate to be both working in the fields that we love the most. Yeah. Like you said, what more can working, ask for this is great. Thank you so much for having me. I love what you guys are doing. I’m really creating an awesome space that is bursting with inclusivity and positivity. So thank you for what you guys are doing. It’s really awesome.

Gabaccia Moreno:

And thank you for coming into that space too.

Abby Ruhman:

Yeah. Thank you. We’ll see you next time.

Gale Straub – Narration:

This was episode one of our four part series, Voices from the Go Pro Mountain Games.  All four episodes are available in our feed now. Episode 2 features Ariel Tweto.

Big thank you to Abby Ruhman for taking time out of the Mountain Games to chat with Gabaccia. Follow along with Abby on Instagram @abbywrenartistry.

Special thanks to our sponsors for making this 4-part series possible.

There’s no wrong way to get Outside – take it from Go RVing. Their platform amplifies the voices of adventure campers, leisure campers, foodies, tailgaters, outdoor enthusiasts, families, digital nomads and everyone in between. Head to Go RVing dot com to find the right RV for your outdoor lifestyle – it’s time to go on a REAL VACATION.

Nature Valley is a proud partner of the outdoors. From creating the first granola bar, meant to be eaten outside, to committing to make all their packaging fully recyclable by 2025, and to their sponsorship of Vail Valley Foundation, Nature Valley provides delicious fuel for our time in the outdoors. Learn more at NatureValley.com

The GoPro Mountain Games is a project of the Vail Valley Foundation.

This episode was hosted and produced by me, Gale Straub. In the field interviews and on site recorders done by Gabaccia Moreno. Interview editing by Julie Hotz. Music licensed via Music Bed. Voices from the GoPro Mountain Games is a She Explores mini-series and a production of Ravel Media.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.