Winning makeup artist enjoys brief homecoming


POSTED: Thursday, January 29, 2009

Visual artists may have trouble facing a blank canvas from time to time, but at least they're spared the makeup artist's dilemma—a canvas with attitude.

; “;There are some girls who don't take the makeup well and they talk back,”; said Nolan Makaawaawa. “;When they get critical I just tell them, “;You're not paying me, you're not supposed to talk back.”;

Most of the time, though, his subjects have no reason to complain about Makaawaawa's work. Last month, the Hawaii-born makeup artist won top honors in the Lifetime TV reality series “;Blush: The Search for America's Greatest Makeup Artist.”;

He's back in town visiting family, his trip paid for out of his $100,000 cash prize. Along with the money, most of which he's banking with the intention of using it to fund his own cosmetics line, he also won the opportunity to work as a makeup artist for an upcoming InStyle magazine photo shoot, and a contract with Max Factor.

Makaawaawa grew up on Oahu with a love of the visual arts, drawing and painting, that later gave way to a love for performing. He moved to LA to pursue dreams of working in the entertainment industry. While there, his appreciation for the visual manifested itself in working with the canvas of the human face, with its one crucial limitation, that is, the tendency for most to fear painting outside the lines. To step outside those boundaries of eyes, lips, cheeks and nose would be to render the human somewhat alien.

“;A lot of women don't want to see a big transformation. But there's a big difference between beauty makeup and avant garde makeup,”; he said. The TV challenges required both, testing the skills and creativity of 10 contestants chosen from across the country.

Luckily for Makaawaawa, he'd had a lot of experience while working for M.A.C Cosmetics, a company known for its dramatic, divalicious style and its association with the entertainment and fashion industry.

“;It was definitely my school,”; he said.

He had just left the company in early 2008 after nine years when he was called to audition for the TV competition.

“;When I left M.A.C it was because I had a vision that I had to go for it on my own. I dived head first into the industry, working for free with photographers and on music videos. Someone had referred me, so Lifetime called.”;

All the while, he was known by his first and middle names, Nolan Robert, which was easier for non-Hawaii types to pronounce than Makaawaawa.

“;In all the years I've been in LA, nobody has ever gotten it right,”; he said. “;It's funny to hear them try to say it. They always add more Ks than there is, and they don't know the W is pronounced like a V. But on the show, I wanted to use my name because I gotta show I'm from Hawaii and that's where my roots are.”;

He was intimidated when he found out about the scope of the show, which drew videotapes from 10,000 hopefuls from across the country.

“;I was kind of nervous, but it was also kind of fun. It was important for me, during the show, to remember how important it was for me to stand by my work and do the best I knew how to do.”;


Watch episodes from ”;Blush”; at www.mylifetime.com/on-tv/shows/blush.