Viva Lokella!

Artist expounds on the origins of her style
Jennifer Bartlett relaxes with her four canines: Violet, Ruby, Slater and Pearl. Photo by Michelle Cuppy.

Jennifer Bartlett is a Jill-of-all-trades; an accomplished makeup artist and hair stylist who specializes in creative color, turning her customers into vibrant works of art. She’s a part-time burlesque performer and the lead singer of the West Michigan-based alternative rock group, Lokella. She’s also a poet and emphatic lover of dogs – two Boxers, a Pomeranian and a merle Poodle make up her puppy squad.

She does it all while sporting a variety of fashion-forward, unique looks (and hair colors). Bartlett shares more about her style and what it means to her.

Jennifer Bartlett performs a piece on the piano. Photo by Michelle Cuppy.

GR Mag: What do your tattoos mean to you and your self-expression?
JB: I fell in love with piercings and tattoos from a young age when I associated body modifications with non-conformity. I was acutely aware of the stereotype that my looks placed me into – quiet, blonde bookworm girl who was possibly easy to manipulate. Internally, I was rebellious and desperately wanted nothing to do with the status quo. So, despite everyone telling me not to, I dove into a world of subculture that felt much more accepting. I figured, if I’m going to be an outcast, it’s going to be my decision. Each piercing and tattoo went on to mark my independence and in turn, it connected me to so many more like-minded individuals.

GR Mag: How do you express your style in other areas of your life?
JB: Growing up with a father who loves remodeling and a mother who has a knack for beautifying her spaces, I fell in love with the idea of creating a home that fit around my visions instead of looking for ways to belong in the world. Witnessing their DIY projects, in 2019 I finally decided I wanted to try my hand at making a great house a home that I felt a strong connection to. In doing so, my self-expression transferred to home projects and the reward has been greater than I could have dreamt, even despite some expensive hard lessons I’ve learned along the way. Now it’s hard to ever want to leave our house that feels like an extension of everything I have learned and everything that I am.

GR Mag: How would you describe your go-to look?
JB: More times than not, my look is unapproachable gothic-museum director – all black, high heels, turtleneck, glasses and an expression that says, “You can look but please don’t touch or speak.” Then the fun part happens; I smile and open up and watch people become surprised by how warm and welcoming I actually am.



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Ever since Pasha Shipp could talk, she's been dreaming up colorful stories. Fantasy creatures, mysterious kingdoms, enchanted forests, you name it. As she reached adulthood, she decided to take the magic out of her head and put it down on paper. Pasha has been writing for Grand Rapids Magazine since November 2015, and has loved every minute of it. She has a master's degree in Communication and a bachelor's degree in Film Studies from Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University respectively. When she isn't daydreaming and writing stories for the magazine, she's exploring the many hidden treasures of Grand Rapids with her fiancé.