L ast fortnight, we spoke to celebrity agent Geetha Andandarajan about the perks of being on a first-name basis with top Malaysian celebrities.
This week, we’re celebrating all there is to beauty. Men and beauty don’t exactly go hand in hand, but professional makeup artist KF Bong proves otherwise. With a knack of paying extra attention to detail, and a flair for translating art and inspiration into his work, it’s no surprise that he’s one of the most sought-after makeup artists in the country. His work is often published in top fashion and beauty magazines in the nation, like Glam, Female, Citta Bella and EH!, and he’s given his magic touch to some big names in the entertainment industry, such as Ning Baizura and Taiwanese singer Della Ding.
Emmagem caught up with Bong (as he’s affectionately known in the industry) for a casual chit-chat.
So, tell us – how long have you been a professional makeup artist?
I’ve been a makeup artist for more than eight years now.
How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I’ve always had a soft spot for fine arts and fashion – at one point in my life I actually wanted to be a fashion designer. While I was still ‘discovering’ my path in future, I became friends with the people who worked behind the scenes, namely the makeup artists, manicurists and hairstylists. It was then I discovered that makeup could be incredibly challenging, and as they say, the rest is history!
How would you describe your personal style?
For me, makeup is more than just an art. I like playing with colours and textures to bring out something I have in mind. It’s all about the details!
What’s your favourite colour?
White, because it’s like an empty canvas. Add another colour to it, and it becomes a whole new shade altogether. I like how versatile it is.
Pros of being a makeup artist…
I get to experience new things and places. Once, we shot a fashion spread on a private island. It was amazing! I’ve also shot at usually off-limit places like a navy port, and an airport hangar. Being a makeup artist, you also get first-hand information on new products, and you get to try them before anyone else does. And above all, nothing beats the feeling of seeing your work published in magazines. There’s just something about the thrill of flipping through a magazine and thinking ‘hey, I did that!’.
Cons of being a makeup artist…
Working hours can be long and unpredictable. Sometimes, you’re required to start work at 3am, and I’ve experienced 20-hour shoots, which is physically and mentally taxing. You also have to be a good team leader, especially when working backstage for fashion shows or events. Relationships with people in the same industry can also get complicated as artists can be emotional people.
When you’re not busy transforming women into stunning beauties, what do you do?
(laughs) I’m actually more of a homebody! I spend quite a bit of my free time at home. Maybe it’s because my job requires me to be out all the time, so when I’m not working I like to stay home and relax.
What’s your advice for budding makeup artists in the industry?
Be hardworking and disciplined – your job is not a party or a holiday, always be disciplined and punctual. Call times can be unpredictable, as you’re sometimes required to work through the middle of the night.
Expand your contact base – the more people you know, the better. Be friendly (but not overly so!) at public events, and leave a lasting impression on others. Be good-natured to people, even if they’re nasty. You never know when you’ll meet again under different circumstances.
Always be humble – when you have the chance, study other people’s work. Read more international magazines, and don’t ever think that your work is the best, because there will always be someone else who can do more than what you can.
Keep an open mind – even a simple glass bottle can be a source for inspiration. For example, the sunlight that reflects off the bottle’s surface can be translated into glowing, radiant skin.
Don’t let your emotions affect you – no matter how you might be feeling, don’t let it ever interfere with your work. Producing great makeup is your responsibility, so always carry your own weight.
Tips from a pro
Bong shares his expertise on faux pas, trends and more.
On common makeup mistakes women make
1) Using the wrong shade of foundation
“To find your perfect shade, try foundation along your jawline or neck, not the back of your hand (which can be darker than your face!)”
2) Going overboard with false lashes
“False lashes should be longer than your natural lashes by 20 to 30%. Any longer than that and it tends to look a tad too theatrical for daily use.”
On playing with colours
1) For upcoming Christmas soirees
“Try metallic textures to draw attention to your features. Choose one focal point and amp it up – be it your skin, eyes or lips.”
2) Pastels for Asian skintones
“Pinks with grey undertones are flattering on Asian skintones. If you’re less adventurous, coloured eyeliner is a fun way to update your makeup.”
3) Vampy lips are still the IN thing!
“Instead of red, go for deep lip colours like maroon and chocolate to create an edgier, sexier look.”
(Photos: all courtesy of Bong)
Next fortnight: Stay tuned for Part 2 of our ‘Men in Beauty’ exclusive, featuring professional hairstylist Klement Ang in our next installment!