By Dakota Parks for Downtown Crowd
When people think of art, images of white canvases covered in complimenting hues and hands-off museum exhibits come to mind. When people think of makeup, they might immediately think of Tai Frasier's makeover montage scene to an iconic pop song in the film Clueless. For Vy Nguyen, a Pensacola native, art is a hands-on venture with new canvases every day. As a makeup artist, Nguyen utilizes palettes, brushes and blenders just like a traditional painter— except the faces of her clients are her canvases. As a child Nguyen always loved to draw and dreamed of being an artist when she grew up. Midway through studying for medical school, Nguyen decided to pursue her passions full time and become a makeup artist. Her work can be found showcased on her Instagram @ngvyenxo.
Where did your knowledge and passion for makeup and beauty originate? Did you receive instruction or are you largely self-taught?
I am fully self-taught when it comes to makeup. I started dabbling with makeup in high school. The first makeup tutorial I ever watched was how to do winged liner by Michelle Phan. At this point I honestly watched it because it was interesting. That was when the beauty world started to change. I found more interest in makeup in my early twenties and became obsessed with it. I would buy a new product every other week. I mostly learned by seeing different makeup looks on people through Instagram and would try to replicate the look myself. I was asked to do bridal makeup for the first time ever in 2012. It blew my mind that someone thought I was good enough to do makeup for such a special day. I think that was when my passion and love for makeup started.
Who are some makeup artists that influenced you or helped guide you as you established yourself?
Some artists that have influenced me are Mi chelle Phan (of course, she started the You Tube makeup tutorials!); Desi Perkins; Lex from MadeYewLook; Mykie from Glam&Gore; and Patrick Ta. Makeup is a very competitive industry.
Did you have an affinity for other artistic outlets before you found your passion in the industry?
When I was younger, my favorite thing to do was draw. I would draw every day after I came home from school. I remember telling my parents when I was in the third grade that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. They didn’t take me seriously, of course. When I reached middle school and high school, they pushed me to take classes that would help me go into the medical field. So, I did as they asked: I stopped drawing and taking art classes. I was torn because I wanted to make my parents happy, but I knew that I would never be happy if I continued in the medical field. I finally found it in me to tell them I wanted to do makeup full-time. They were heartbroken, and I could see it in their eyes. But now, they see how happy I am and how good I am at what I do. I believe doing nails, makeup, lash extensions, and permanent makeup (tat too) is another form of artistry. I may not paint on a paper canvas, but I do paint faces and nails, and that’s basically the same thing, right?
How do you find inspiration in your day-to-day work: choosing color palettes and designs?
My everyday makeup looks for myself, and for my clients, are more natural but also glam. I love neutral/ warm tones, soft pinks and nudes. I rarely do dark heavy makeup for myself or my clients unless it’s requested to achieve a certain look. Most of my clientele come to me because of my soft tones. I like to call my look a “soft glam.”
Your work is largely focused on beauty make up, but your Instagram has some spooky, gothic style FX makeup looks. When did you start branching into FX makeup?
My interest for FX makeup didn’t really start until the last couple of years. For Halloween for the last 7 years, I would always try to search for different makeup looks to do. I always found FX makeup so interesting and challenging—I think that’s why I started doing the looks because they were a challenge. I mainly do FX looks just on myself to challenge myself and see how far I can go with it. I get my ideas from different makeup artists on social media. The looks tend to be dark and somewhat scary, but I feel like that’s mainly what FX makeup for Halloween should be: to see how scary I can get.