Monday, 18 June 2012

My love for makeup ~ how it all started...

I have always been fascinated with makeup. Ever since I was a kid, I have always played with my mum's makeup stash. Mum used Amway Artistry back in those days, and she still is a loyal fan to them till this day. I remember destroying her red lipsticks when I was only 6 or 7 years old. I would run up to my parent's bedroom and get a rush of adrenaline when I got hold of her little makeup bag. I would then paint my lips the way I thought mum did as I observed her get ready in front of the dressing table and end up looking like a baboon in heat because I had too much pink blush on my cheeks (of course, because I applied my mum's makeup with very bad lighting. It didn't occur to me that natural daylight was best for makeup application).

 I would take mum's hot fuchsia nail polish (mum's very fashionable those days. I think she is the reason why I love colours with my makeup & why I love dressing up) and attempt masterpieces on the baby blue walls of my house. Oh what horror it was to have me as a child, hahaha. Of course, all my retarded artwork are now covered with new coats of paint during the renovation of my kampung house, thank God.

During my schooling years, from kindergarten right up till highschool, I was constantly performing on stage. I was quite a dancer myself. From traditional Malay candle dances to Chinese mountain tribal Alishan dances to modern dance (where there were lots of running man & frozen poses involved), naturally I was exposed to makeup at an early age. But if only there was makeup that was made organic or safe for children's faces. Because using makeup at an early age has a lot of disadvantages. Till this day I am still suffering from adult acne, hypersensitive skin, uneven skin tone & hyper pigmentation because of that. Back in those days, teachers would use expired makeup from Yardley or Zaitun or Avon and use them on all of the kids that were performing. The makeup smelt funny, they used the same unwashed puffs and applicators on everyone. And they thought that using something from their own personal stash would make it better. And they always used way too much makeup on little kids and teens suffering from bad skin. If only, if only. So during that time, I hated makeup so much because I hated how my skin suffered when I took the makeup off. And I envied all those people who could wear tons of makeup or make do with so little makeup and look fabulous.

I remember the very first makeup item that I purchased myself was a Bodyshop Lipstick when I was 17 years old. It was a natural brown colour, in a slim dark green tube. Although the colour made me look a little too old & it was so drying (it was a matte formula) that my lips peeled & cracked constantly, but everyone at school was wearing it and it was the most raved about lip product (followed by Dewberry/Musk/Vanilla perfume oils by Body Shop & Seabreeze Toners). Peer pressure.

In college, I still had to battle with bad skin. Sigh. It was a neverending story with temporary solutions that were like empty promises. I never wore makeup to classes and I didn't own a single makeup product. I don't know what happened, but during my first 3 years of college I didn't bother about makeup. But I did bother about my skincare and my acne medications. I guess my skin was so bad that I felt like no amount of makeup is going to make it any better or look any better. Then during my final year of college, I received a present from my friends on my birthday that changed my life. It was an assortment of makeup products in a lovely box, and boy was I ecstatic about it! I think word got out that I never wore makeup in public but I was always playing makeup games in my bedroom as a hobby (free sample sized makeup that I got from buying Clinique skincare or hand me downs from other people) . And thus I started my journey as a makeup enthusiast aka makeup junkie (uh-oh).

It started with The Body Shop products (naturally) and then I progressed to Ettusais, a Japanese makeup brand made for skin with acne problems. I think the reason why I like those brands was because of their not-so-adult packaging. I don't really like very adult looking makeup packaging so Sasa was also a treat for me at the time because everything was pink and fun and cheaper than most major leading brands. And I loved big jumbo coloured eyeliners at that time (I still do!) because they were very easy to use on my droopy single lids. And during that time, the makeup technique was so old fashioned and unsuitable for my eyes. I either looked like a panda, a very angry ladyboy or a tired person from those makeup trends. If only the current Korean/Japanese makeup was around that time, I think I wouldn't have been so angry at all the makeup counter girls or makeup artists that was so frustrated in their attempts of making my eyes look bigger and sexier. Bless them all. 

Due to my frustrations, of possessing so many makeup products and yet not knowing how to utilise them to bring out the best of my natural features, I eventually signed up for Level 1 basic makeup course at Makeup Technique International School (MTI) while I was still working and living in Bangkok, Thailand. Eventhough I was gigging every day and night, 7 days a week, I felt stagnant as everything was a routine. I was playing music everyday and getting paid for doing what I love but I craved for an outlet to express my creative side. I wish I could draw but I couldn't, so I thought maybe I can learn to apply makeup on myself nicely in a variety of ways. And I was hooked! I was so happy & excited even though it meant that I won't be getting any sleep the night before after my gig because the classes that I signed up for were Saturday classes for part time students. Saturday classes were usually 6 hours long, starting at 9am with a lunch break in between. And guess what? There were no makeup classes conducted in English. I just went for it anyway, because the courses were way cheaper than the ones we have in Malaysia and somehow, the makeup techniques & standards in Thailand were way more advanced too. I am so glad that I took up the classes as the teachers were very nice & patient as they understood that I couldn't read or write Thai but only understand spoken Thai. So I would scribble notes down to my own understanding in English and ask questions whenever there's a certain Thai term or phrase that I didn't know. I took lots of photos of the models and the makeup demo shown in class and I always sat in front so that I can observe better. In makeup (to me anyway), the artist doesn't have to say much and I would still be able to learn the techniques as long as I am able to observe what the person is doing. And Level 1 makeup was so much more than just a basic makeup course, because it also covered Bridal Makeup and basic hairstyles for dinner/bridal. 
And I am proud to say that I did very well for Level 1 makeup, even with my language handicap. And I progressed to Level 2 makeup as well, which covered makeup for media, stage, fashion & photography. That was money well spent on extra education as it is now one of my tools of trade.

Trying to complete my drawing for the class exam the next day. This was already wee hours of the morning because I could only do this after my night gig.

This was Che's room. She was my female singer & always graciously went as my model for free. She also helped me draw the faces for me to colour onto. Told you I couldn't draw.

Meet Che aka Roshelle. She's a fantastic performer. And here she is modelling my look for the Stage Makeup exam. I decided on a 20s inspired prostitute character. Hmm. Something about me and my fascination with courtesans.

This was for the Fashion Makeup segment of the exam. The teachers didn't like my single silvery white dot on her lower eye. I liked it.

I booked a room at a backpacker's inn at Khaosarn Road (where I worked nightly) to complete my graduation portfolio. These girls (except for the lady in green) were my band's loyal fans and helped out by being my 'before & after' models.

This is what happens during my makeup classes and when you get to sit on the front row. A different model is used in each class.

This was when I didn't manage to get front row seats. However, you can still watch & learn pretty well because they always used a camcorder to project it on the television for everyone to see better. The teachers also wore headsets or microphones pinned to their clothes for us to hear better.


When I first relocated back to Kuala Lumpur from my 6 years of performing & living in Bangkok, Thailand, the first band to have me help them with their photo shoot was Mili'z, thanks to the recommendation of Melina. Mili'z was no stranger to the indie music scene at the time but I had no idea that Malaysia had such a thriving independent music scene. I had not heard them perform before and had absolutely no idea about their music direction (which I feel is really important as it helps with the inspirations & ideas for the look that the band might want to go for). Luckily, my assistant for that day was my youngest sister Yvonne and she was rather well versed with the local music scene, so that helps a little as she filled me in a bit on their music.

Mili'z were Michelle Lee, Ling and Ronnie Tan. 

Mili'z (from left to right) Ling, Michelle and Ronnie.

I loved this brick wall on their chosen location. So dreamy and the colours were awesome.

At the time, Michelle had long brown hair with blonde highlights. We gave her loads of tight curls which were then loosened with a rat tail comb to give her a slight afro texture to her hair. I was still fresh-from-makeup-academy-mode so I think that explains the strong angular eyebrows & blusih grey smoky eyes, but as years go by I find that my school's technique (I went to the best makeup school in Thailand -Makeup Technique International or MTI for short) is still the best for great eyebrows & eye makeup.

I love her big hair & her light brown eyebrows. The falsies I had her put on was one of my favourites. Cannot find them anywhere else but in Pratunam Market. Super cheap & better than MAC or Shu Uemura's.

We gave Ling wavy curls but the main idea was to give them both big hairstyles but of different textures. On Ling I think I gave her dark jade green smokey eyes but for some reason it looked pretty similar to Michelle's bluish grey smokey eyes. After this photo shoot, many months later, I got to listen to Mili'z live on stage. And boy was I blown away! And boy did I wish to do another photoshoot with them because I had so much ideas running through my mind! This band was an awesome treat (and still is. I think you can still check them out on MySpace & Youtube) to the ears and proof that our local music has so much talent and deserves so much more love. Thank you Mili'z for including me & Yvonne in your journey. We are so proud to be part of this.

Froya In Progress

There's something about helping my friends out with their band photo shoot or press release picture shoots. I enjoy them immensely. I am really blessed that these super talented friends of mine have such faith in me to help them with their makeup, hair and styling. Every photo shoot is a challenge, an adventure and somewhat like an art project for me (since I can't draw but a friend of mine somehow enjoys my artwork attempts and will ask me to draw something for people to guess from time to time). I try to imagine how their music and their image can merge together, to deliver a message in the right direction. 
Yikes. I have no idea what I am trying to say. 

Umm. In a nutshell, I just want them to look good and if they're happy with it, I am super happy because I got the job done.

This is one of my recent works that took place on the 5th June 2012 at WASP Studios. 
Presenting Froya aka Michelle Lee. Froya is one band you wouldn't want to miss and they will be the talk of the town very very soon, mark my words. Amazing talent, beautiful songwriting and very fresh sounds. This would be the second time I've worked with Michelle Lee. We were both up by 5am and started to work on her makeup & hair after our McDonald's breakfast with some cool & interesting music playing from one of the computers at her workplace. The photo shoot ended around 12.30pm and Michelle was very sweet to let me nap on her office sofa (and feed me lunch) before I head out to my next shoot of the day. These are just some of the photos taken by Eric Ooi, her photographer of choice. I cannot wait for the other amazing photos to share with you all!

Michelle bought this new dress just for this shoot. I gave her natural looking makeup (it's great that she's got a great complexion so makes it really easy for me) and enhanced her eyes with brown shadows, eyeliner & falsies. I also flat ironed her hair straight first, then curled them & gave her an exaggerated side parting.

Haha. I actually placed the paper rabbit model on top of her head as we were trying to be quirky. She looks cute & childlike here. She's working some retro hair and outfit here, I think it suits her personality. I added some black dots, big & small around her eyes for a funkier look. I have a lot of ideas in my head at the moment, I hope I do get to explore them on her in future.

Another quirky one. This was taken in her office room where she works as a composer for WASP.

One of the first few photos taken that morning. She's got a really nice, sweet smile and the reflection from this baby grand piano was really cool. That piece of beaded headband around her head is one of my favourite accessories in my personal collection. I think I got it from Sg Wang.

One of the outdoor shots at WASP. She looks lovely here, but she was braving every single mosquito bite here. Couldn't tell, huh? The mosquito repellent I sprayed on her (yes, I come prepared!) wasn't very helpful. I think the mosquitos at her workplace are of the invincible kind. Both the photographer & me got attacked as well. Next time I should have a fog machine for this.
This was one of my ultimate faves! Check out the flare that Eric Ooi caught! And look at how natural Michelle is, and at the same time it's fairy-tale like. This picture says a thousand words.
Michelle. Are you trying to tell the paper rabbit something? 
This is such a cute shot. Look at how mischievous Michelle looks, and the rabbit looks innocent but somewhat cheeky.
And the rabbit was also caught with the flare of the sun! Here comes the sun, do do do do...

The Froya rabbit that was couriered in time for the photo shoot. Tune in for more magical Froya photos the next time! Till then, check them out on Facebook and follow them @FroyaMusic via Twitter. You can also check their music on SoundCloud. Support local music!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

My Girls.And.Money Moment with Johnny McGeorge Part 3

I like playing dress up and I love costumes. *cue Village People's YMCA.




Welcome back Sharon Chong. Yes. That's my yellow Korg M50. Every musician has their baby.

Ahem. Well, that's the last picture from the photoshoot experience I had with Johnny. Although I am nobody compared to the rest of the girls he shot for his Facebook page, he made me look like a million bucks. Even with my horrible skin condition and supremely non-exercised body. Now, if I can look like this...imagine YOU!

My Girls.And.Money Moment with Johnny McGeorge Part 2

Voila. Hot pink heels from Korea that I got during my working days in Macau.

The Gothic Lolita look. Kinda. The ghostly smoke effect is from Johnny's cigarette.

I had no dark vampish lip colour for this shoot. So I improvised with a creamy NYX Black Bean Jumbo Eyeliner topped with Estee Lauder's Pure Colour Lipstick in Berry Truffle.

That prop next to me was an actual mouse trap. It stank of salted fish. I tried not to look sick.

Crouching. Just crouching. None of that movie taglines.

I loved this look. Simple, effortless yet so gothic cool even with the pigtails.

Experimented with something here. Smudge.

My Girls.And.Money Moment with Johnny McGeorge Part 1

Alrighty then. This is the moment where I share with you my amazing collaboration with the infamous Johnny McGeorge. No amount of adjectives can describe him and his work. Okay, maybe I can try in 3 words : talented, patient, unpredictable.

These pictures were shot in 2 to 3 hours on the 27th March 2012 at various areas of my own home. And I almost cancelled the photoshoot with him because my skin breakouts just got worse (I kept blaming the microdermabrasion treatments, until Johnny pointed out "Maybe it's like facials? Your skin has to get worse before it gets better?" and just because of that, I knew that I would be comfortable doing the photoshoot with him) We took loads of pictures, but Johnny did advise that less is more, so here I am sharing with you the wonders of makeup, image styling, hair, props, fashion & amazing photography skills!

This look is Karen O (from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) inspired.

The head dress was handmade by my friends from Team HamsterDamnAged. A few years back, I debuted as a singer for a project band called HamsterDamnAged. We (Stephanie, Melina and I) were housemates back then and it was one of those fun things we decided to do together. From an open mic stint organized by Reza Salleh at the Cloth & Clef (it closed down the very same year) until we reached full fledged Yeah Yeah Yeahs tribute cover band status, my music career and my life changed. And so did my image.
One of those 'hamaigadss' moments because I personally think I looked quite ravishing here. My legs looked really long & slim here. And I loved the flare from the sun. It was such a fluke. This was taken outside my home, near the kitchen.

This one was an even greater fluke because there was a sudden breeze. As directed by Johnny, I kept twirling and turning slowly countless of times. Needless to say, I destroyed my beautiful strappy Red Indian leather ballet flats that I had from my Bangkok years.

I like how I don't have to smile and yet I can look quite nice here. Notice the slight breezy action. My hair was being very obedient here, even right after all that twirling.

This was taken at one of the white walls of my home. Here I added my blue melodion and my pink Hello Kitty ear muffs. The wind effect was from my own fan. This is still the same makeup look from the outdoor shoots with the head dress before.

Super Random Makeup Projects

Auburn photoshoot with  Stephanie Chan, Izuan Shah & Izzat (now with Hujan), back in 2009.

Auburn's first photoshoot, back in don't know when, 2009.

Shireen & Zein's KL wedding reception, 26th May 2012. (Shireen was a junior from my highschool & a close friend of my younger sister's. Still waiting for the professional photos, this was from a friend's blackberry camera shot. I know. I need a good camera.)

Velvet, 2010. This is one of my many bands, we perform mostly Chinese numbers & English oldies in an acoustic setting. Members look familiar? Photo taken by Hanafi Estranged. Apparel by various treasures found in the infamous Berjaya Times Square.

This was for my first Globalifestyle International In-house catalogue photoshoot, 10 April 2012. A big thank you to Serene Chong aka Mrs Nanda for thinking of me and requiring my services.

Everybody, meet Jennifer. She's the model for this collection. Hair was also done by me. Unfortunately, I couldn't conceal her wrist tattoo well enough as I wasn't aware that I had to do so. If I get more challenging makeup work like this in the near future, I will invest in either the heavy duty Kryolan/Kat Von D's Tattoo Concealer/an airbrushing machine soon. Angelina Jolie, here I come.

That is me in 'makeup artist' action. In my most comfortable 'Chinese Aunty' ensemble because I was not feeling well during the shoot. I always braid my hair so that they are out of my face.

Location look familiar? This outdoor shot was taken at the Marmalade Publika. Photos are taken by Joe, who is Serene's colleague. I should find out his full name and credit him soon.

A slight change of hairstyle, lippy and more brown eyeshadows. The hair and makeup looks for this photoshoot was inspired by Kate Spade & Orla Kiely. Very retro, very fun.