Art as we know it, is a way for people to express themselves, their emotions, thoughts and realities on different canvases. For make-up artists, their canvases just happen to be faces, a backdrop for them to interpret several stories either by using bright eyeshadow colours or drawing thin or thick-set brows, these artists tend to transform, improve and sometimes completely but temporarily alter a person’s look in order to tell the intended story. The crafty profession demands patience, attention to detail and an undying passion for the skill.
The editorial makeup art scene in Lagos is increasingly in demand, considering the attention its fashion and photography scene is equally receiving. The market is beginning to look beyond the simple looks and is now interested in magnifying the narrative by working closely with the creative directors, fashion designers, photographers, and sometimes musicians and filmmakers.
To get an insight into what the scene is really like, we got in touch with Editorial makeup artist and creative director Ayopo Abiri on her experience so far in the industry. The young artist tells me that she has been practicing makeup for a long time but only started taking it seriously in 2018 after she moved to England. She developed in the craft by perfecting what she refers to as ‘glam make-up’ up until she came across @honeydon.t on instagram who gave her all the inspiration she needed. “I literally just fell in love with her page and I was like I have to learn how to do my make up like this”.
By utilising her access to Youtube, Ayopo claims that she had to practice over and over again to get one look that she really liked. Further down in our conversation, we speak on the artists creative process and what it is really like when she’s coming up with these ideas; as witty as I expected she responds saying; “Ada, let me not lie to you I’m such a scattered person, I could just be chilling on my bed and I’ve probably had a bottle of wine and I’m like hm I think I should just do some makeup.”
Following up with a question on where she draws inspiration from, she responds by pointing to a fan in her room and assuring me that she already has a look off of it, and continues by adding colours and oftentimes punk subculture/aesthetic.
Ayopo’s recent work with musician Lady Donli on her music video for the song Corner drew positive attention to what the she had under her sleeve. A video that depicted women empowerment coupled with its promotion of the old nollywoodque vibe. It is fair to say that Ayopo interpreted the story with the subtle but vibrant and individually discrete looks of the characters in the video.
Telling the story on how she got the gig, she opens up that it was motivated by a tweet asking clients to book her which followed Donli’s simple but active response of “I got you”. Touching more on her experience working on a video shoot set for the first time and on a look that she had only done on her face, Ayopo tells me; “when that day came i just winged it.”
Furthermore, she does disclose that it was indeed a stressful but fun encounter and it helped that she was assisted by her friend Omotayo Coker. Our conversation quickly opens the gate to the editorial makeup artist industry in Nigeria and she actively exclaims that she does not think the craft is remotely respected.
“Even as little as tagging, I feel like every artist should be respected and they do not do that to us..you have to remind photographers and videographers to tag you and it shouldn’t be so”
There have been long and tiring conversations on peoples’ ignorance towards certain creatives. For instance clients insisting that they deserve to be underpaid because in Ayopos words “is it not just makeup”. She has proven herself as a multidimensional artist from pulling off drag makeup to glam and punk. She continues to tell more stories with the colors, contour blends and in some cases eyebrow shapes.