How do you introduce yourself – who is Yadim?
Yadim, addict / alcoholic, human being
Tell us about your early life, background and what are your thoughts on what led you to where you are today?
You know, the usual, trauma, a search for approval and validation with some genuine love sprinkled in. I had a very supportive mother who always nurtured my creativity. Was bullied a bunch in middle and high school for my queerness. Found rave / club culture in high school and found community and acceptance, even if that came with the use of drugs. It probably saved my life.
What were your earliest sources of inspiration that stay with you to this day?
My mother was my first inspiration. I used to watch her get ready in the mornings. My mom is a makeup artist. Watching her transform herself every morning was awe inspiring. It was the 80s. So it was a lot of makeup and hair. My mother was basically a drag queen. She was like my own Mexican Barbie doll. Later when I found rave / club culture, I found endless inspiration there. I got into dressing up as a club kid. Used to make my own outfits for raves and my favorite part of that was spending hours doing my makeup. It was not cosmetic makeup. My friends and I used to go to art supply shops and we’d cover ourselves in glitter and paint and go out. It was about being subversive and weird. The stranger the better. Playing with gender tropes before it was cool. Celebrating our queerness. Music also played a big role. Madonna was a huge inspo for me when I was young. Nirvana was also pivotal. My sister used to listen to Culture Club and introduced me to them. Through that I found out about the New Romantics of 80s London and later the club kid scene of 90s NY. Kevyn Aucoin was also a huge inspiration for me. His books allowed me to dream of a job in makeup.
You have been in close contact with so many iconic artists in various fields. Who are some of your favorite collaborators, both behind and in front of the camera?
That’s so hard to list. My work with Lady Gaga with Inez and Vinoodh really stands out. Working with Rihanna was also really fun because she’s not afraid of experimentation. The five years I spent working with Alessandro Michele on all the Gucci projects with Glen Luchford were incredible. Other favorite collaborators are Carlos Nazario, Lotta Volkova, Johnny Dufort. Working with Francesco Risso for the Marni shows is super special and exciting. Any time I get to work with heroes of mine I feel really grateful. David Sims, Mert & Marcus, Zoë Ghertner. All so special and talented.
You’ve mentioned in the past that you don’t want to get stuck in a box, i.e. being known for one style or type of makeup alone. That being said – can you name a few things that you feel describes what makes your work and world unique to you?
I think the willingness to adapt to each individual project is really important to me. I consider that malleability is a huge strength. From the most minimal or abstract to maximalist glamour. I love to play with it all. I hope what makes my work unique to me has more to do with the kind of human being I am than with the makeup I do. I hope my heart defines me.
What do you consider your strengths and what would you like to improve on?
One strength is definitely the above; adaptability. I also like to work quite quickly which is definitely a strength in todays industry which doesn’t typically offer the luxury of a lot of time. The willingness to delegate tasks and trust my assistants is also a strength, though that takes time to build trust and training. Something I’d like to improve on is the ability to let things go. Perfectionism is not my friend. I used to think it was. I thought it made my work better. But now I don’t think that anymore. I don’t care how “good” or “bad” the result is, if I’m not being kind to myself and others in the process then it’s poison. I’m working on being engaged with the work I’m doing while at the same time practicing loving non attachment. It’s imperative that I don’t take myself or my work too seriously. It’s just makeup.
Can you talk about a moment in your professional life where you felt that feeling of “ I have arrived. I have made it to where I wanted to be” And where did that help you go next?
I’ve had many. When I first moved to NY and met Amanda Lepore and started doing her makeup on the weekends to go out clubbing was one. Assisting some of my makeup heroes was another one. Getting to work on all the Gucci projects was like five years of “I have arrived.” These days I don’t really feel like I’ve arrived anymore because I’ve realized that the journey never ends. I think my ambition eventually got me to a place of doing some much needed inner work. Madonna said it best, “I realize that nobody wins. Something is ending, and something begins.”
On the flipside of the previous question – could you share with us something that helped you move forward at a challenging time ?
Getting sober was a huge part of where I am now. I hit a pretty low bottom with drugs and alcohol. When I got sober, I learned to practice some serious self care. I have to put my spiritual, emotional and physical needs first, otherwise I’m not good to anyone, especially not to myself. Recovery along with the intentional use of plant medicines as a form of therapy have been the greatest catalysts for change for me.
What keeps you inspired – where do you look to renew your love and lust for this craft?
The endless eccentric personalities I get to collaborate with. Films. Club culture is still always inspiring even if I don’t really go out much anymore. I think it’s vital that queer nightlife exists. Books. Nature. So much to be inspired by daily if I allow myself to see it. I mean I can stand on a corner in NY or London and just people watch. There is so much creativity in the world.
How do you define beauty ?
Beauty is undefinable. There are as many different definitions as there are people on this planet. It’s perpetually open ended which is why I love it so much.
Making sustainable choices and keeping the planet in mind in all parts of our lives has become so much more important to us all. What are your thoughts on this – personally and professionally?
Personally, I have had deeply meaningful experiences with ayahuasca that have shown me how interconnected everything is. We are nature. There is only nature. We have simply forgotten that, especially in the West. I think the more awareness and consciousness we can bring to the impact we have on the planet the better off we’ll be. I’m not worried about Mother Earth. She was here long before we were, and she’ll be here long after. The real consequences that will result from our own ignorance will fall on us as a species unfortunately. Professionally, I try to be as conscious as I can be regarding the products I use and how wasteful I am. I think eco conscious brands like Submission Beauty are playing an important role in how we think about cosmetics and the planet.
How do you navigate keeping yourself grounded in an ever changing and increasingly demanding industry?
Meditation. Even if it’s just five minutes at a time. Having moments throughout the day to find stillness. Nurturing connections with people who can call me out on my shit. Letting go of the need to control everything. Allowing the flow of Life to guide me. Connecting with nature as often as possible. Reminding myself constantly that I’m not defined by my job and that I’m not more important than anyone else.
What does self care mean and look like to you?
It means really listening to my intuitive heart. Listening to my body. Being very involved in my recovery and attending recovery meetings and giving back to that community is vital for me. Having things and relationships outside of work that bring me joy. Meditation. Self-inquiry.
Do you have a life mantra and/or spiritual practice?
There’s only One of us here.
What are you excited for right now?
Excited for my continued growth and expansion in all areas of life.
What would you like your legacy to look like ?
I don’t think about that very much anymore. I guess I just want to be remembered as a compassionate and loving human.