ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF MAKEUPBRUTALISM @makeupbrutalism
INTERVIEW KASHA LASSIEN @kashalassien
In my research, I found that you were born in Budapest, but have lived in quite a few places like Berlin and London. From your travels and places you have called home, what has been the collective message or take away that you have implemented into your art and the way you see beauty?
You gain perspectives – every country has a different story to tell or a different lesson to teach. Budapest made me realise that for me it’s more valuable to be average in a large ( and in this case large means important ) city, than to be the large in a small city. I was a well established makeup artist living alone in a beautiful flat with a luxurious lifestyle but I was BORED running in the same circles. There was no space to grow and no opportunities to experiment. I had to move away to prove the potential I believed I had in me. Here in London, you are free to jump from one task to another if you are brave or confident enough. Even if you are a makeup artist profession wise, you can have the opportunity to art direct, to shoot editorials, have exhibitions etc. People are free and let you be free too. To stay realistic .. you will have flatmates and probably struggle a bit too, but everything has its price.
How did you get your start in the beauty/fashion industry?
I had this vision about myself as a kid: that I will work in the fashion industry. It was just a foggy idea, not a real plan, but heavy enough not to have real plans and ideas for real life. I was lazy to find my real self.
After high school I went to an art-school ( studied styling there ) where I realised I have no talents while everyone else around me was good or interested in something. I realised how lost and desperate I am. I worked as a styling assistant afterwards, wanted to be a photographer (but had no courage to start), dreamed about my own magazines (did nothing to make it come true) – everything was one big chaos. AND THEN one of my friends asked me, “why not makeup?” I attended a makeup school and BUMM I arrived.
I was a makeup artist for 10 years. It felt so comfortable, I was not afraid anymore. After the first years of practising I started to question the rules instead of following them blindly, but it was not visible from the outside in the first years. These were only my personal concerns – which grew bigger and bigger I wanted something more, something different. So one day, after working on set, after another smokey, eyeliner or natural look I went home, took my little mirror and started to work on my own face. It was around 2017. These eye-closeups were the base of Makeupbrutalism.
The “ugly makeup community”: tell me how was this community birthed and what is this community all about?
People always assume there was a certain awareness behind all the decisions I made with uglymakeuprevolution or makeupbrutalism, but the reality is that with every new question, press releases and collaboration it just became big and I had to follow the flow. I never had the intention of becoming an artist / a creative other than a makeup artist, UNTIL I accidentally became one by asking questions and playing around with concepts at home. For me it was that – sitting down and playing – this is how the hashtag uglymakeuprevolution was born too: it was a conversation under one of my posts, a joke, nothing serious. When I realised it became popular I made an account with the same name and started to post similar aesthetics from all the posts tagged. It is kind of a curation, but most likely support for people who think a little differently about makeup.
You were able to use Instagram to gain visibility back in 2018, how do you feel like the platform has changed since then in the way it allows artists to showcase their art?
Instagram is a weird place, it can make you believe magnificent things, which are only true for that very moment – even you wanna grab and keep it, you can’t. It can make you famous, viral, it can make you a living, a career, but it can chew and spit you out in the next second.
Now that what I do is not in trend anymore, my content is in a ‘sensitive category’ somehow (I was reported several times ) my reaches dropped drastically – which resulted in my online reality being completely different in many ways, from what it was a year ago. There is this thick feeling in the air that it can be over anytime soon, which is pretty scary for someone like me, who stopped working as a MUA ( don’t wanna go back ) and has clients exclusively from Instagram.
There is a bit of an ongoing conversation amongst artists about Instagram and its censorship and how it may not be an ideal place for artists anymore. What are your thoughts on the topic of Instagram censorship?
Even before instagram systematically did, people started the censorship. I find it honestly amazing how confident people can be without any knowledge or expertise. How everyone is so self-centered that they believe only their reality exists and that they have the right and drive to make sure everything should be about them. They want to be the HEROES under every post or if its not available .. even the villains, but they need a role desperately. I truly believe people made instagram a miserable place in the first place. Because what is art ( or content in this case ) ? Its “self”expression – its about the self – not about the audience. When I uploaded something – it reflected me, my thoughts ,my questions, my concepts but everyone else used this reflection as a mirror and they hated me for what they saw there. For creative people whose biggest strength is their own voice/vision, this is just unnecessary noise.
We have witnessed a shift in social media platforms every so many years form myspace to facebook to vine to twitter to snapchat to Instagram to now, Tiktok. How has that shift from Instagram to Tiktok effected accounts like yours – makeupbrutalism?
I always had an identity crisis. I always knew that I’m not an influencer, since I don’t wanna tell people how to live, what to think, what to buy etc but I never had the courage to call myself an artist ( for me thats a more complex topic ) So I settled with the idea of a content creator. But since Tiktok became so huge and all the makeup content turned into singing dancing tutorials – it turned out there are rules and trends people should follow in order to stay successful – It turned out I’m not a content creator either. I’m just not that fun to dance and sing.
Can you briefly walk us through your creative process for – say – your productlessness series?
The whole “productlessness” series started as a question: ‘What is makeup’ ? After some research I made my definition “Makeup is colours and shapes in the form of paint and/or application on the skin in order to separate or to belong” – which made me realise I don’t even have to use makeup products ( based the idea on some of Path McGraths runway eye looks ) to create a makeup look – so first I started to mimic classical shapes ( winged eyeliners ) with ‘non-products’. Meanwhile I deconstructed the word eyeliner: lines on the eyes – which part still belongs to the eye area ? Is the ‘eyeliner’ a certain shape or location ? Is an eyeliner limited to only the eye area ? Can you draw an eyeliner on your forehead, chin etc ?So I arrived at deconstructed shapes and mixed those two .. deconstructed shapes with non products … which ended by me putting anything on my face and calling it a makeup look. Welcome to the chaos.
What do you consider the most important piece (to date) you have made and why?
I’m extremely sure I never did anything important ‘for the world’, but def have some pieces which are extremely close to my heart. Like my NEO SHIBUYA TV collaboration – wherein videos were broadcast on 9 billboards on the world famous Shibuya Street for 5 days. It was so unbelievable. Also the poster which is now on the streets of Stockholm after Kamraterna bought it for their new play, Idomeneos, playing in the Swedish folkopera. These things make me feel super proud of myself – and believe in my future as a visual creator.
What social questions have inspired you in the past and currently?
I felt the need to disconnect humans from perfection in my own head. As a woman I always felt attacked by the fact that “women should look beautiful” – like it’s our main or only value. I’m not just a face and especially not just a body. I’m a human with intelligence, concept, humour and the ability to mix it into a successful life. My mom always told me she is smart not beautiful – which was almost rebellious back then. Probably thats the base of my fight against the importance of beauty, which turned into the need to redefine, reshape.
Even though your work is different from beauty standards of the past, do you ever feel any pressure to stay on trend or to top your last creations?
When I work on commissions – it is always a bigger pressure, since brand deals, collabs coming with contracts, deadlines, zoom meetings, compromises, requests .. its a different type of creation and standards I have to meet – but I have to say I’m pretty lucky to have clients who are truly interested in what I can offer. So yes, this is pressure, but its more like the pressure of being a ‘freelancer creative’ When I work on my own concepts, those are fun and games, no weight on my shoulders. It’s not my intention to stay on trend at all. I know for instance that most of the things that interest me at the moment – more design oriented approaches – will not bring the likes. But its not the goal, because as I said earlier its self-expression, not entertainment. I only used trends to make fun of them.
What does it mean to you to know that you are helping to redefine beauty standards?
I personally believe this kind of “extreme makeup”, Avantgarde makeup was a huge trend last year and yes I see how many makeup artist shifted in this direction. BUT if the mindset, the whole attitude does not stick with people in the long run – it means it was just a trend – and not redefining sadly.
What changes do you hope to see in the beauty industry in the next five years?
The biggest change for me would be me not being a part of it anymore, or at least not only as an instagram account. The plan is gaining knowledge and confidence as a creative director and photographer – mixing every medium in my works, being limitless and creating my own bubble with exhibitions, books etc. I try to manifest a future where I exist as a creative entity – big enough to provide myself and my future family the life I had as a kid for example. Having my own studio, working on collabs, concepts, traveling a lot, attending art scholarships, teaching, workshops .. that’s the dream. AND yes, most days it looks impossible, but I try to believe in myself and my decisions, that It will leave me somewhere important. I will never stop work for it.