The face of beauty is physically changing, and with it, the crafts that surround it must evolve as well.
Apart from avant-gardism and high fashion, a makeup artist’s goal traditionally—and historically—has been to play up pretty features like large eyes and a pouty mouth, to downplay imperfections, to smooth out textures: to idealize a standard of beauty.
As cultural lines blend, and a new generation of ethnically-mixed people emerges, a new standard of beauty is emerging, and it is in essence not a standard at all. It is diverse and endlessly varied.
Makeup artist Jasmine Merinsky sees the new wave of individually unique people as the future of her industry and a new challenge for young artists like her. Her collaboration with TRIM is a foray into this new frontier; she and Kriza have challenged themselves to portray attractiveness while not relying on traditional indicators.
On one shoot they took the eyebrows completely away using blocking methods common in drag makeup, and the stunning results are proof that playing with—or removing—markers of what is aesthetically normal doesn’t need to be ugly.
Being allowed to be artistic and to express her own ideas has been the most rewarding and the most challenging part of Jasmine’s TRIM collaboration. Along with Kriza, she has creative control on this project, and it’s given her a chance to explore her own theories about glamour. Freedom is not something generally given to makeup artists. The craft takes an aesthetic eye and a lot of skill, but it’s a service, and it’s collaborative—a makeup artist works with the stylists and the photographer to realize someone else’s vision. The makeup is integral to the whole, but is usually the last thing that happens on a shoot and the aspect with the least amount of artistic license.
How does creative freedom feel?
It was really overwhelming at first, because when Kriza was asking me, ‘what do you want to do, what do you want out of this,’ I was like, ‘well, I have no idea.’ Then we started getting into different concepts to recreate, and things I wanted in my portfolio, and it all became very controversial very fast, because I love to go there, [laughs] we had all these concepts coming up like cultural boundary breaking. We’ve gotten to this point now where we have a vision, and it’s hard to communicate, but once it’s there it’s exactly what we were looking for. That’s why this has been such an amazing experience, as well as so different for me, because it’s just about me and what I want to do creatively and my vision, and not feeding off of anybody else. It’s been a very cool, unique experience.
What inspires you about beauty and makeup?
I feel like there’s this specific face that people put on that’s so repulsive to me, with the shading and contouring and making everything look the same. There used to be an approach to makeup in the 1930s where you were constantly trying to make everyone’s face look oval and look like this image of beauty, through highlight and shadow. Nowadays, anything can be beautiful, from no eyebrows to overly large lips to a huge gap in between the teeth, to freckles, to no eyelashes at all, there are so many versions of beauty now and I love to play up on those. I’d rather have everyone look completely different and be beautiful because of it.
What is the role of a makeup artist?
I think that makeup can be used in a really positive way, and I think that it has a lot of negative associations with it because it has a lot to do with a person’s insecurities. A great mentor of mine used to say that in order to be a good makeup artist you had to be witchy, you had to have witch-like senses where you could see into a person and know what they’re wanting and what’s going to make that experience positive for them. I didn’t really know what she meant, but now it makes a lot of sense. It’s almost this intuition that you have where you immediately have to gain that person’s trust, and once they trust you, you develop a look or you develop something creatively, and it flourishes, as opposed to them fighting it.
What is the future of makeup art?
Just making people look fucking weird, basically. Because everything’s been done. What do you do when your career is based off of image and making new images but we’re constantly recreating old images?
A new creative career can be a balancing act between two worlds. Trying to make a name for yourself in your field while paying the bills with what is usually a completely unrelated job is hard, and a lot of people remain in this limbo for years, not able to or not confident enough to commit to either world. At some point there needs to be a leap of faith, a moment when a decision is made that it’s time to become what you’re striving for, whether you’re ready for it or not.
This is what separates true artists from the wannabes: the willingness to gamble with your livelihood, or the unwillingness to be something that you’re not. Jasmine made the jump at the turn of 2012 when she decided that if the world was going to go down in a fiery inferno like the Mayans said it was, she wasn’t going to be a bartender when it did.
Was it worth it? Did the gamble pay off?
I remember thinking, if the world is going to end, I’m not going to be working this shit job anymore. I’m going to be a makeup artist when I die. All my friends and family are like, what the fuck are you doing Jasmine, do you have a job yet? I’ve found myself now maintaining this balance of doing what I want creatively, doing those projects and collaborations for me, with no pay, and then doing commercial shoots that I don’t necessarily get as much out of but that pay the bills. Just when I start to panic, something comes up and I get an amazing job and it all works out.
Do you identify as an artist?
I do definitely identify as an artist and the more that I accept that, the easier it is to say ‘this is it, this is who I am, so I better accept it instead of fighting it.’ When I was 22 I had a shitty year trying to be somebody else. I was thinking I wasn’t going to do makeup anymore because it wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. I got to a really low place and then snapped out of it and realized how awesome it was—‘this is a great situation, it’s just a matter of doing it.’ I try to expose myself more now to artistic people and artistic scenes, and that makes me feel comforted, knowing that there’s other people like me and that it’s not a crazy idea to think that this is something that I’m going to do for the rest of my life.