Instagram is overloaded with makeup videos from the "no-makeup makeup" look to a "three palette full-blown glam beat." And yet, there is still space for emerging independent artists to be appreciated and recognized. These creators are standing out and the mainstream beauty media is taking notice. Take Tania Kwok curator of her personal platform @luciphyrr. Perhaps what is most eye-catching about Tania's work is how uniquely expressive she is with her makeup looks, delivering new designs and colorful palettes to the inspiration of her fans. Her looks might look a little eccentric, but something about them seem to fit quite perfectly on the canvas of her face. We wondered, how did she manage to accomplish this? Tania speaks at length here about the evolution of her skincare and makeup practice: she embraces her unique Asian features and works to make art out of her ever-evolving visage. It may seem like she appeals to the east-Asian woman finding a way out of the maze of western society beauty standards, but on a deeper level she resonates with all women coming to self-acceptance, expression, and confidence.
Female Hercules: Many of your makeup looks are quite dramatic. Do you wear any of your looks in public?
Tania Kwok: If I have places to be and have enough time to conjure up a look, then I wear it out. I am proud of most my work and I’ve grown quite used to people giving me longer-than-usual glances. If anybody has found my looks distasteful they certainly haven’t brought it to my attention, I think this helps me in wearing unconventional makeup in public – nobody ever shows a negative reaction directly. In fact, I get a lot of compliments, beyond a look appearing nice or not, I think people acknowledge and appreciate that I am unabashed walking around with makeup that’s uncommon.
2. What objects/places/people inspire your makeup looks?
I think shapes are mostly what inspire my looks, I find shapes in lots of objects everywhere and anywhere; the spout of a teapot, the cliché horns of a devil, a simple semi circle, lines, sillouettes etc. Viewing other creators’ works and experiencing their art inspires me to create more of mine, I’m not necessarily inspired by their style but the fact that they are thriving in their own work.
3. What are some memories you have of the solidification of your early work as it was developing that felt like a pivotal moment?
When I posted a certain blue/purple/glitter look, it felt like the beginning of this creative passion in me – that my makeup ideas excited me and that they were my own, not influenced by the social media that I consume regularly or by another creator’s style. I had so many ideas and focused more on my content, I began posting higher quality content I was truly happy with.
4. You have discussed on a couple of occasions (on your social media) your battle with skin breakages. This is something to which many of us can relate. How has it evolved over the years? Does skincare play a part in your creative process with makeup?
I’ve had patches of skin dilemmas during my high school years due to puberty, birth control and other factors. I used to use any cleanser, sometimes a toner and then a moisturizer. None of the items I used had a specific purpose but just something I thought I should be doing.
The past year or so I’ve been educating myself more on skincare science rather than listening to the myths and whispers that beauty marketing tries to sell us. Now every product I use has a purpose and targets a specific skin concern I have like acne, scarring, PIE and sebum production.
Skincare plays a part in my makeup but not creatively, it has helped me stop wearing foundation in an effort to appreciate my skin and its health more.
5. Tell me about the differences between painting on skin as opposed to on canvas.
Canvas is stationary, uniform in texture and dimension. You can manipulate anything on a canvas to your liking.
Skin moves, it’s got many different textures and fluxes incredibly in dimension. You have to work with skin and understand that everything can change depending on viewing perspective.
You can use anything on a properly primed canvas but resources regarding skin have to be skin-safe. Another difference is permanence, you can frame a canvas and put it up for display for centuries but work on skin is always washed off.
Regardless, I think both are wonderful surfaces to work on because of their differences.
6. Many of your looks are composed around the eye. Why?
My relationship with makeup has always been eye-focused. As an East-Asian woman living in a western society, I’ve grown up perceiving beauty on Eurocentric features and as Eurocentric features. There was a pressure on me, not only from the public/media but from myself, that I had to fit into this deep-crease, almond eyed box. All the beauty trends were based off features that I didn’t have, from arched eyebrows to sculpted eyes to sharp cheekbones and thin noses. Even in Eastern media, the idea of double creases and big eyes was flourishing.
Although the media I consumed didn’t aid much in alleviating my insecurities, I am by no means blaming the media I was exposed to for the insecurities I had, these stemmed from within myself during years of my life I craved to be relatable to others. Insecurities will manifest themselves into anything it can get ahold of,
and during those years I happened to be mostly immersed in makeup/social media. Most makeup I saw was eye focused, it was what I tended to practice the most but all these tutorials and campaigns weren’t on mono-lids. In an effort to recreate these looks, I put makeup on as if my eyes weren’t or I added/removed features so they would look more like the eyes I always saw. I spent so much of my time as a young teen using makeup to assimilate. My mind always had ideas similar to “if I don’t have a crease, I can make one”. I was so focussed on creating features, that I didn’t recognize I began correlating those traits with beauty. In those years, my idea of beauty was imitation.
As I’ve grown older and have had more experience with makeup on my own face, I’ve learnt to appreciate my features more and mostly my eyes, the part of my face I tried to change the most. I’m taking advantage of them, I’m learning more about my lid space, the ways my eyelids fold, the way they move and how makeup travels with/on them. My eyes are unique to me and I will always understand them best. I’ve come to the point where I can confidently say that nobody could work on my lids as well as I do. My looks are focused around my eyes because I now find power and confidence in their intricacies in which I could only know.
7. Do you have an unrealized project in mind that you have yet to execute or perhaps lack
the resources to create?
I don’t have any big projects but I’ve had this concept in my mind for the longest time that I haven’t yet executed well enough yet; the recreation of a snake skin pattern. I’m not sure if it’s my skill level or approach limiting me or my lack of makeup and tools but one day I want to create it to a satisfactory level.
8. Is there any preparation or planning that goes into constructing a look?
If I have a fleeting idea I usually draw it out very roughly in my notes app. Sometimes I will develop a look just as I’m putting it on.
9. How do you feel about the minimalist “no-makeup” makeup look?
I absolutely love it. I adore the look of refined skin and enhanced features, I think it is a super realistic method of applying makeup for everybody. It is easy to achieve but can still make you feel confident, attractive and even artistic as it requires a bit of precision and paying attention to fine details to perfect.
10. What’s next for you?
Hopefully more consistency and the maintenance of my creative grind. I don’t have many goals regarding my makeup page other than to maintain posting regularly and creating looks that I love. Right now I’m posting every 2-3 days, I don’t mind if that drops to 1-2 times a week as long as I keep it consistent.
Most of all, I just want to create work that I love. I don’t want to let anything influence my work except for myself and I hope to keep it that way.