Get To Know Karen Then, Make-Up Artist
Written by Shaun Lim Tuesday, 10 January 2017 20:56
"Everyone and anyone has to start off somewhere, be it small or big."
Editor's Note: In this feature, we get to know Karen Then. She's a makeup artist and body painting specialist based in Brunei. She has a YouTube channel where she shares online makeup tutorials, plus the occasional vlog. Check out the rest of her portfolio on karenthen.com and follow her journey on Instagram, @Karenthenmakeup and @karenthen.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a trained and certified makeup artist and body painting specialist based in Brunei. I graduated from one of the most prestigious make up academies in Hong Kong, MAKE UP FOR EVER. I also graduated in the MAKE UP FOR EVER Paris branch, the TV & Cinema make up academy. Despite having been certified, I constantly push the boundaries of my skills to new horizons and put tireless effort in improving my finesse.
As a professional makeup artist, I have worked with various people from different industries and backgrounds; such as singers, actors, models, wedding couples, corporate companies and a vast variety of domestic and international clientele. I have also conducted a couple roadshows, makeup workshops, and private makeup tutoring in Brunei, Malaysia, and hopefully Singapore and other parts of the region. I pursued my passion in hopes of bringing the art and finesse of make up to a new level. I pay much attention and devotion to the small details and focus on providing my clients the best.
Ultimately, I want to ensure client satisfaction above all else. So guys and girls, follow and/or subscribe to my links and I promise to keep you updated! Career and work aside, I enjoy keeping fit. I find a level of satisfaction working and sweating it out. I also enjoy the simple pleasures in life, and appreciate the small things, like playing with my dogs and going to the beach!
When did you decide that you wanted to be a make-up artist?
During my tertiary studies at the University of South Australia, I played and explored with makeup whenever time permitted. I somehow found myself so passionate about makeup. I often had friends over to make makeup tutorials and videos. I even helped friends with their makeup and hair styling for events or functions. I really enjoyed and was intrigued by the whole process; hence decided to pursue training after I graduated.
What fascinates you about this line of work?
Makeup is, to me, a truly magical form of artistry! I love seeing how makeup is able to transform someone’s appearance and attitude so instantly and effectively. It enables an individual to fully showcase their features and emphasises certain aspects of beauty not noticed in the absence of makeup. But most of all, it brings me great joy when I see my client’s satisfaction with my work; I enjoy them seeing themselves feel beautiful.
Share with us your experience abroad.
When I was younger, my family and I loved watching the TVB Hong Kong series; so I was naturally quite familiar with Cantonese. I could understand Cantonese, but I could never really speak it. As I started my training and building my career in Hong Kong in 2014, I had never thought that I could communicate in Cantonese so fluently.
I spent a couple years improving my spoken Cantonese and later found myself working with famous Cantonese speaking artists such as Zoe Ma, Jay Chou, Fish Leong, Kelly Chan, Joey Yeung, Hins Cheung and so on! I'm saying that the unnoticeable things and routines in life can bring out the most exciting experiences that life itself has to offer. It made me more confident even though I was in a place unfamiliar to me. Although I faced many challenges abroad, it brought out the best of me and my capabilities I had not known not going; as the saying goes, the sharpest of blades are forged in the hottest of furnaces and most extreme of pressures.
Apart from those experiences, the gigs I enjoyed most were the concerts. The environment of the backstage and concert climate somehow pushes through this adrenaline-like rush. It was tough, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. You know, the pressure that builds during the changing of the performer’s outfits and makeup styles between songs or performances; and the after feeling seeing that I did my part in making the whole event a success. The feeling is just pure gold.
What are some of the challenges you faced?
There can be plenty of sleepless nights working as a makeup artist. The grind begins long before the actual show takes place. As a makeup artist, I am always the first one in and the last one out. Other challenges involve picky and fussy clients. However, I am a really patient girl and I always want the best for my clients. So I take fusses and complaints as a gauge for my skill; the less there are the better I am I guess.
I have learnt that all these challenges come with the job, it's never going to be a smooth sail all the time. So far it's been good; as long as I keep my head high and my attitude cool, I'll always be able to work with anyone.
Where do you get your inspiration from and who are the people that inspired you through your career?
My main source of inspiration is that I seek out beauty; be it a beautiful person, place, friendship, object, or an experience. I know it may sound silly, but beauty somehow evokes an emotion of peace and love in me; and we all know that love is one of human kind’s strongest emotion. Through this, I believe it makes me express myself in a way that reflects what I deem to be beautiful. Hence, the result of my work must be beautiful.
With regards to the persons who inspire me; the persons who heavily inspire me are those who have mentored me in the academy and others from the industry. I also get inspiration from a pool of talented makeup enthusiasts on YouTube. It’s not really what these people have taught me, it's more of who they really are. It inspires me to see others who put so much determination and resilience in making their work an art form.
Any future plans and hopes to see something done locally?
One of my big dreams is to build and run my very own makeup studio. With the support from my family, close friends and with enough determination, I see that dream just around the corner.
Any words of encouragement or advice for young makeup artist enthusiast?
Always believe in yourself. Everyone and anyone has to start off somewhere, be it small or big. Put in the hard work, practice and continue to practice some more and you will be your own idol someday. Do not give up so easily on what you enjoy and strive for more. Work hard to achieve what you want and always aim for your best.