In Vancouver, Canada, lives a makeup artist whose talent was almost buried behind the routine of everyday life. An accident, a fleeting photo, gave her the idea to try her hand at a new field and it became a prophetic decision. Now Mimi Choi creates so realistic, as well as frightening types of makeup, which many people take for bizarre optical illusions and do not believe that it is just a game of paint and light.
We met Mimi at the biggest beauty event of the year – InterCHARM exhibition, where the girl had a two-hour public talk and a master class. Even after the intense communication with the audience, Mimi was the most cheerful person in the world: you could see from her glowing eyes that makeup is really her passion. And she doesn’t even have a primary art education: until the age of 28 she worked as an elementary school teacher!
First question: what do you call your creativity – makeup, illusion makeup, art, or something else?
My art can be called many different things, and everyone really calls it different things, but for me makeup is art. I would say it’s the art of illusionary makeup, or surrealistic makeup. I mostly use decorative makeup when I work, so yes, it’s more like makeup.
Lately, no one is surprised by colored eyebrows or black lips on social media. Do you think it’s just a fashion trend or a shift in the perception of the beauty of the human face?
I think people use different ways to express themselves: someone writes, someone draws, someone dances. Why not express yourself in makeup? In my opinion, you can wear whatever makeup that makes you happy as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. If you want to have black lips, blue lips, purple or pink eyebrows, go ahead, as long as it makes you happy.
Many people copy your work, and some even steal ideas. How do you feel about such “copycats”: do you ban them or do you think that imitation is the best form of flattery?
I’m very flattered when people copy me. When I first started my blog and was doing “blurry” faces or lots of painted eyes, there were many makeup artists who replicated my technique exactly, but didn’t tag me. Or I was tagged, and when their work went viral, those people removed the tag.
Of course, I’m human, I have feelings too, and I often wonder what’s behind such “stealing”. It’s not very polite to disrespect the ideas of others. A word of advice to all makeup artists: if you are inspired by someone else’s work, be sure to acknowledge the original source and its author to respect their right to be creative. But in general I think that such “thieves” are just insecure and have their own complexes inside, so I understand that everyone has their own reasons.
Do you have makeup that gives you confidence?
I usually wear pretty natural makeup. Skin care is very important to me: I moisturize my skin all the time. If I don’t apply foundation, I make sure to touch up my skin with concealer. I love false eyelashes: I don’t even have to apply shadow, I just glue on a bunch and I feel better because my eyes look brighter. My makeup depends on how I feel: sometimes I go bare-faced, sometimes it’s a full-fledged beauty routine, I have no restrictions.
What three beauty products can’t you live without?
An eyebrow pencil to make my eyebrows more pronounced.
If I have my eyebrows drawn, have a little bit of concealer, and my skin feels good, then I’m good to go.
What advice do you have for young girls who also want to put their makeup or creativity online, but are too shy and afraid of being judged?
I think we need to stop focusing so much on our fears: how people will look at you, what they will think, that they won’t like the work and so on. If an occupation makes you happy and doesn’t harm others, there’s no reason not to do it. The people who should be in your life will stay; those who won’t like your work – well, they’re not your friends. Just be yourself and focus on what makes you happy: dancing singing, makeup, just do it!
What advice would you give to yourself as a fifteen-year-old?
When I was a teenager I was terribly afraid of my future, I didn’t know who I would become or what road I would take. I would say to myself, “If you are kind and pay attention to the things that make you happy, the Universe will eventually give you that path and you will do well.”
Mimi rarely uses complex makeup, almost all of her works are based on elaborate shadow play. She uses deceptive perspective, making the viewer see three-dimensional objects on a plane and non-existent elements where they can’t be. It turns out so convincing that you want to grab an axe and swing away from the “demons” in which she reincarnates with the help of paint, brushes and a bit of talent.