5 next-generation makeup artists on making it in beauty

Dreaming up looks for fashion's buzziest brands and painting pop culture's freshest faces, these five artists represent the makeup industry’s new guard.

by Blair Cannon
26 September 2016, 4:00pm

Kanako Takase
Since moving from Tokyo to New York at 22, Kanako Takase's career has only shot upwards. After interning for Pat McGrath, she started to mine her own individual style, mixing mediums and crafting painterly, colorful beauty looks that experiment with everything from grunge motifs to face jewels. The most important thing, she says, is "not to be afraid of going opposite to 'trend' when you have a chance to explore," especially when the looks are being created for people she trusts. Takase adds, "I started my own career this year after four years of working with Yadim" - for whom she worked as a first assistant - "and I just feel blessed by what's been happening around me so far." In a short time, she's managed to work with Chloë Sevigny, Julia Cumming, and Daria Werbowy and brands including Hermès, Diesel, and Topshop. Takase is ever-modest, though, adding cheerfully and rather poetically, "I'm looking forward to working with people who can push me out from my comfort zone and meet the new version of me."

After over a decade in the industry, NYC-based makeup artist Ingeborg has worked with everyone from Chanel Iman to Dounia Tazi for a variety of major publications. Recently, she created Zosia Mamet's look for i-D's Female Gaze Issue. She says of the industry, "You really, really have to absolutely love people to do this, as you are so close to them (literally) on a daily basis," adding, "thankfully, I love people!" For Ingeborg, those people include the likes of designer Matthew Adams Dolan - a Rihanna favorite - with whom she just worked on a lookbook and film. "All the talent was locally streetcast, something I really enjoy," she says of the models discovered in the deep south. "I love working with large groups of talent, and unexpected situations really bring out the best in me," she explains. "I also have one particular [person] on my radar right now, Isabelle Hupert. She just did a play at BAM and I think she is the ultimate chameleon, the ultimate transformer." She elaborates that having a muse over several years "and really digging deep" into the relationship would be a dream. Finding that muse shouldn't be hard since Ingeborg is already teaming up with some of the world's brightest up-and-coming talent - whether that's for Kenzo campaigns or emerging New York brand Vaquera's runway shows. Ingeborg says it's all about collaboration, finding "teams of people [she] genuinely love[s]."

Allie Smith
Allie Smith is becoming a major creative force in the beauty world, working with virtually every youth fashion publication, i-D included. She's created dewy complexions for an Opening Ceremony x Jacquemus lookbook, given Iris Apfel a red lip for & Other Stories, and painted otherworldly sapphire eyeshadow on St. Vincent's Annie Clark. Fresh off the NYFW train - it's only her second season working shows as a key makeup artist - she's now focused on a beauty story with photographer Mark Lim, "inspired by politics." Aside from Lim, whom she calls a personal favorite, Smith dreams of working with heroes like Cass Bird, Meryl Streep, Carrie Brownstein, Proenza Schouler, and hair superstar Holli Smith. To get where she is now, Smith says, she's had to learn "to not be afraid of fucking up and remain open-minded" and to "push through the initial discomfort of doing something off or 'wrong.'" At the same time, she says, "there are always gigs or opportunities that come up that make you feel like you're onto something good, which is really gratifying."

Phoebe Walters
In a few short years, Phoebe Walters has built an impressive resumé that includes editorials in Italian Vogue and shows at London and Paris fashion weeks. Her simple yet genius experimentation with curls of hair and string have also found themselves on the pages of DIY publications like Aesthetic Zine. While painting faces for the Gucci, Ashish, and Phiney Pet spring/summer 17 runway shows this month (often in assistance to Isamaya Ffrench), Walters revealed that she is also currently working on a personal project. "I have always had an interest in looking at color and the relationship color has with the person viewing it," she explains. "I would like to collaborate with lots of different artists." Her dream creative conspirator is photographer Mark Borthwick, whom Walters says she admires for his work with Margiela. For now, Walters continues to perfect her craft through assisting and collaborating. She says the most important lesson she's learned is the necessity of having confidence in one's work. "If [speaking out on the job] doesn't work, that's fine," she says. "But at least you won't regret not saying it!"

Emi Kaneko
Emi Kaneko is not exactly a newcomer, but she is a true innovator in the beauty industry. Her creative mind and diverse experience have led her to craft sleek, fashion-forward makeup looks for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger campaigns. Kaneko says her priority is to always keep inventing. "I think it's very easy to take a look you've seen on the internet and replicate it, especially now," she explains. "It's like buying the cheap knock-off version. But the process of coming up with an original concept is like finding a real gem at a bad vintage stop. It's so rewarding." Fresh out of NYFW, Kaneko says she has plenty of ideas brewing, and while she continues to to push new concepts she likes to remind herself, "even if it doesn't work, it's just makeup. I can take it right off." In the future, Kaneko would love to work with Rihanna, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Yayoi Kusama. But she notes that she's already working with incredible people: "the other day, I got to work with a full female dream team. It was amazing because I felt like it brought a different perspective and energy to the shoot."


Text Blair Cannon

kanako takase
makeup artists
allie smith
emi kaneko
phoebe walters