It’s a man’s world in the makeup arts

The Jakarta Post – Sun., 03/02/2008 – Lifestyle

Daniel Rose, Contributor, Jakarta

In the dimly lit lounge of a modern hotel in the Semanggi area, Philips Kwok, 29, opened his laptop to show photos of five women before and after a makeover. “See this line? What is this? I didn’t put it there,” he said in an irritated tone, almost screaming, while pointing at a dark smudge on the cheek of one of the women in an ‘after’ photo. “And the color of the blush-on didn’t pop up at all. That stupid photographer thought he could get away with simple lighting from one direction!”

The photos appeared in a bridal magazine a few months ago, and for Philips, the photographer’s recklessness had put his name at stake. He has been a makeup artist since 1997. Various magazines and advertisements use his artistic services and advice, and so do brides. A man of great determination and confidence, he could only afford to make one mistake. “It was a very long time ago. The client wanted a heavy composition, while I was thinking light,” he said with a sour grin.

Philips Kwok is one of the scores of male makeup artists in Jakarta. Today and probably since years ago, it is no longer surprising to see a man holding a brush in one hand—sequencing the right combination of color off of his palette—and putting on fake lashes with another. In fact, in Indonesia, it is just what people expect when they walk into a beauty salon. And that is why it is very hard to tell how many male makeup artists there are in Jakarta.

This, however, should give you a picture. Gerry Gerson Dorus, a freelance makeup artist, was celebrating his 34th birthday at his place in Pejaten Raya. There were at least six other makeup artists there, and they were all men. Putri Indonesia (Indonesian Princess) 2005, Artika Sari Devi, was also there. “She’s like a sister to me,” Gerry, who used to work for Mustika Ratu, the main sponsor of the Putri Indonesia beauty pageant, said. Every cosmetics company has its own makeup people, and Mustika Ratu has approximately 40. How many of them are men? “When I was still working there, there were around 30,” Gerry said.

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Gerry believes that women in Jakarta, especially celebrities, prefer male makeup artists to the female counterparts because the males are considered more creative in this particular area. “This reason alone puts the guys on top of the competition, which is why more and more men are attracted to working in the business of applied makeup.”

Philips seconded that opinion, adding that women simply feel more comfortable with male makeup artists. “A woman does not ask another woman to beautify her because a woman might not see another woman in a good way, but that’s just what they think, and that’s just how I see it. I myself think that women make better makeup artists because they have a sharper feeling. Make-up is partly about color. When it comes to dealing with color, your feeling plays a very important part.”

Gerry’s and Philips’s words undoubtedly raise a question. If women are that comfortable letting men decide what color of lipstick they should wear, whatever happened to the men-are-from-Mars-women-from-Venus formula? What are we missing?

“Isn’t it obvious? Most male makeup artists here are gay,” Septa Tri Yoga, 28, also a freelance makeup artist, said. “All over the world, when it comes to fashion, hair, makeup, making things look more beautiful, more sophisticated, more gorgeous, you can always bet on gay men.”

There is a truth in Yoga’s words. Gerry Dorus is an openly gay man, and it is as if he was meant to be a makeup artist from the beginning. “I studied the art of makeup on my own. When I was still a junior high student, I started experimenting by putting makeup on my mother and sisters. So I can say that being a makeup artist is my true calling.” Gerry has been a makeup artist for 18 years.

Ariel Naba, 32, one of the makeup artists present at Gerry’s birthday bash, is also gay. “Sometimes I also put makeup on myself, just for fun,” Ariel said. “But I can’t have makeup on and walk around in public. Being a makeup artist allows me to make a woman look more beautiful, and knowing that she can show it off to everyone is a reward in itself.”

Philips explained why it is very easy for Indonesians to categorize the profession of a makeup artist as gay, and why that is not very flattering. “Here, many trannies work as makeup artists, because they are used to putting makeup on themselves. Moreover, other professions aren’t readily available to them. People think they are lowly, vile. This is why when men work as makeup artists, people will be quick to judge their sexuality and stamp the lowly and vile sign on them too. While in developed countries, the profession of a makeup artist is almost as prestigious as that of a fashion designer.”

When he initially became a makeup artist, Philips thought he was degrading himself. “Now, I don’t care what other people think. I have come to a level in my career where I can say that I am the luckiest human being in the world.”

sidebarTips and trends: The naked truth

The Jakarta Post – Sun., 03/02/2008 – Lifestyle

Daniel Rose, Contributor, Jakarta

The “natural look” has been around for some time, and it is going to stay a little longer. So quit reminiscing about the good old days when you could blink and stop a cab with your fake eyelashes. It is going to take a long time before the return of that era.

Nobody knows for sure when the natural look first gathered momentum. Some say it started in 2000, others say it is later in 2005 that the Krisdayanti look—heavy makeup, thin eyebrows—was no longer happening. None of our sources agreed on one single color that is likely to be hip this year, which is good, because that means you can run through a range of colors that complement your overall look.

So, since 2000 or 2005, what has the natural look come to today?

When it comes to foundation, powder, and blush-on, all of our sources agree that the lighter the better, especially for a casual look. Teenagers need not wear foundation, but this is not a strict rule. When you think you could really use its help, go with a liquid foundation, and finish off with talcum powder. For women on formal occasions, choose a stick or cream foundation, cover it up with a light touch of talcum or compact powder, and finish off with a thin layer of pink, lavender or peach blush-on.

As an alternative, go with soft brownish colors for a warmer vibe.

For the eyes, this year’s trend allows you to be more dramatic, not so much with the eye shadow, which still settles with silver and purple, as with the eyeliner and mascara. Go wild with those two. Many girls still like smoky eyes, so go with black, brown, or very dark green. Things have also gone dramatic for lipstick with the return of vintage reds, ranging from maroon to reddish-yellow to fuchsia.

The natural look forbids you plucking your eyebrows, let alone trimming them, unless they have gone too bushy. Comb them, and give a tinge of color if you like. The trend in eyebrow lash tint is, again, light colors such as blonde and soft brown, or greenish-brown for brunettes.

For the cautious, get ready for all things purple sometime this year.

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