This MUA creates vibrant eye looks inspired by nostalgic cartoon characters

Mi-Anne Chan pulls inspiration from all our favourite shows like 'Sailor Moon' and 'Kim Possible'.

by Jenna Mahale
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25 August 2020, 1:02pm

If there’s one thing Mi-Anne Chan feels strongly about, it’s the idea of wearability. The 25-year-old, who previously worked as a beauty writer at Refinery29, dislikes the idea of editing one’s use of cosmetics to a standard of socially acceptable, but understands the rationale behind it in certain circumstances.

“There are some people that can't wear certain looks because of where they work, or because they just don’t feel comfortable,” she reasons, “but I also think that you can wear makeup just for the sake of it being pretty, or fun, or weird! And it doesn't have to have any deeper meaning, and it definitely doesn't always have to be something you can wear for work.”

Makeup, for Mi-Anne “can be something you literally wear for three minutes, take a cute picture in, and take off. And what's wrong with that?” Growing up on a steady YouTube diet of Michelle Phan and Fleur De Force, Mi-Anne found that her accumulated beauty knowledge came in clutch when she interviewed for her first editorial gig at W Magazine. “I did not know anything about journalism back then, she admits,” but she did know a hell of a lot about skincare. “I really got that internship because of YouTube!”

We spoke to the video director — whose short and colourful clips have likely popped up on your Instagram feed before — about her influences, evolving relationship with makeup, and more.

How would you describe your style?
I would say it's bold, colourful, and graphic, but it can also be very soft. Maybe “whimsical” is the best word. On the spectrum I think I tend to veer toward pastels, lime greens, lavenders, light blues, and then also bright oranges and neons.

Where do you find inspiration for your looks?
I'm very into colour stories, like I’ll see an interesting-looking old Chevy and take something from there. I actually find a lot of inspiration in homewares too. Like people's colourful cabinets, or interesting pottery — I get a lot of inspiration for colour from pottery, and the way that different potters weave different colours into their things. And even in terms of shapes, I'll look at a lot of pottery and cups and candlestick holders to see what kind of colour palettes I want to use. A lot of the time though, l just get inspiration from TV.

Can you give me some examples of the TV shows that inspire you?
The way they do makeup on Euphoria is so my vibe — I love that that really resonated with people. It was just nice to see it! Awesome teens wearing cool, crazy gemstones. People wearing makeup because they want to wear makeup, and in such an interesting way.

I’ll often pull inspiration from cartoon characters too, like I just did a Sailor Moon inspired-look. Serena's not even my favourite cartoon character from that show -- I really like Venus -- but I chose her because she's always crying, or being dramatic about something. So I did a whole tear look inspired by that, just because it looks like such a release, she's just pouring her emotions out.

I’ve also just been editing a video of a look inspired by Shego from Kim Possible. Shego was my favourite character! Well, she wasn't my favourite, but I had a major crush on her. She's seared into my memory as just an anti-hero of that series. And her look was just so iconic, with her bodysuit and her hair. She's such a boss.

What do you think it is that draws you to cartoon characters so often?
I think nostalgia is obviously an important piece of the puzzle here -- it's nice to remember those times. I think a lot of my friends and a lot of my audience are of a similar age group. So it's nice to do these looks and get the responses back and see that people loved these characters as much as I did.

Cartoon characters also always have the best colours. You know what I should do next, now that I'm thinking about it? A look inspired by that scene in Sleeping Beauty, when the two fairies -- the blue and the pink one — are fighting over what colour Aurora’s dress is going to be and they're having, like, a paint battle. That would be cool. I have to rewatch that scene now.

Do it. So how would you describe your relationship with makeup?
It's like a very committed partnership! I actually didn't really start experimenting with bold, playful colours and shapes until about two years ago. When I first started working in beauty -- in 2013, 2014 -- it was all about ‘no-makeup' makeup, that was the world we were living in. Now it's so exciting, because things are getting so editorialised; people are wearing flowers on their eyes for no reason.

I see makeup, for me personally, as a fun and cathartic way to force mindfulness almost? I kind of like cooking in that way too, like if I feel anxious I need to do something with my hands. It occupies me in a way that will take my mind off whatever is making me spiral out. I think makeup plays a similar role in my life.

Did lockdown change anything about that for you?
Makeup's always been a mood-lifter: everyone feels themselves when they look good. But during quarantine it became so much more apparent to me that I can literally be going nowhere, just be wearing it in my house, and have it be an awesome look that I'm proud of. It will make me feel better -- even if no one's there to be like, “Oh your eyes look great today!”

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