Today, makeup artists are an invaluable part of the creative team for most photographers and videographers and when it all comes together, we create magic.
Makeup for me is a form of art, a medium I use to express myself; if I could put it this way, it is my voice. Every clean face that comes and sits on my chair, which I would like to call, the chair of transformation, is a canvas before me. A chance for me to express and create what I feel is beautiful and relatable to the person I am standing in front of.
I know, there’s this question I get asked a lot, you are probably thinking about it now “What do you get out of it, really?” Apart from the money, haha… I get a chance to create from scratch, I mean, that to me is very satisfying.
Then there’s the best part of it. The joy that comes with the person’s reaction when they get to see themselves. The happiness, the confidence, and the smiles that brighten their faces when they see themselves after very long anticipation are priceless.
But just the brush strokes and mirror don’t do justice to the hour I spend complementing God’s work, that is why the camera is a natural ally. As creative or makeup artists we need a medium to express our creativity, hence photography. This is a very essential part of my art with the help of another creative. This is where the photographer comes into the picture, pun intended.
As a makeup artist when looking for a photographer, I want someone who is able to capture my work as it is and give the necessary credit to the extra effort I put into the details. Someone who can capture a masterpiece as it is without my skills or his/her skills overshadowing each other. It is very simple, the makeup artist puts light and shadows where necessary using makeup, and the photographer does the same with the lights. When we work together, we create magic!
I have always been a makeup artist even though I used to work in a sales job before and did makeup gigs on the side. As time went by, my side hustles grew and my clients became so many that it was now difficult to juggle between my sales job and being a makeup artist. I knew initially I had to decide which felt like gambling with my life.
The choice to either continue with my sales job that was comfortable and had a consistent salary or risk it all for the unknown was not easy, I pushed it off for months. I was supposed to renew my contract with my employer but one day I just woke up and quit, and that was it. The first step of my journey as a freelancer makeup artist; but that leap of faith opened so many doors of possibilities and it has been nothing but amazing.
As a makeup artist, this isn’t just a job for me, it isn’t just something that earns me a living. It is so much more, there’s much depth to this. Working at ProStudios, I treat beauty products and makeup as merely just tools that I use to present and showcase my skills. And as I pioneer a makeup school at ProStudios I hope to pass on this skill which is becoming mainstream as an art that compliments photography.
Initially, not everyone embraced makeup as an art. For a long time, it had been frowned upon, only done during weddings and on special occasions. For many, makeup was seen as a sort of mask or illusion that hides your true face, something that told apart a ‘kienyeji’ from the modern Nairobi girl.
But the world is changing, makeup is becoming an everyday thing, an assertive way of building your confidence, and highlighting your contours into a beautiful image of yourself. Coupled with the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram that ushered the age of looking good in selfies which have fueled the art of highlighting your best features.
With its mainstreaming, makeup has grown into a multibillion business that has women at its centre including Kenya’s Suzie Wokabi who founded Kenya’s leading indigenous cosmetics brand Suziebeauty after a successful career as a television makeup artist in Los Angeles, California. Kenya has also been attracting the biggest brands with the recent Linton’s franchise of singer Rihana’s Fenty beauty stable entering Kenya, one of the only eight countries in Africa now officially.