Interview by: BECCA GILMARTIN
One of the beauties of working as a makeup artist is the emphasis being on the latter word artist. Perth based Hendra Widjaja is the perfect example of talent blurring the boundaries of conventional makeup and art. A self-taught makeup artist of 20 years, he has worked with some of the industry’s best. His client roster includes household names such as Jennifer Hawkins, Rachael Finch, Naomi Watts, Samantha Jade, Michelle Williams and top Western Australian beauties including Nicole Trunfio, Gemma Ward, Bridget Malcolm and Jessica Gomes. Let’s not fail to mention Hendra has shot with photography favourites such as Nicole Bentley, Simon Lekias, Russell James, Steven Chee and Gavin O’Neill to name a few. But it isn’t just Hendra’s impressive career that has captured Laud’s attention. Hendra works on the beautiful medium of handcrafted dolls. As a makeup artist who maintains a career without a website or a strong social media presence we are proud to shine the RISE light on this quiet achiever based in Perth.
How did you get into makeup artistry?
I’m a self-taught makeup artist with twenty years in the industry. I fell into the industry by accident whilst studying fashion design. Every Graduation show I was happy to help out with the models makeup whilst my friends would help finish off my sewing. The models introduced me to their agencies and I started testing. So by the time I graduated; I was assisting many great makeup artists and working freelance.
What inspires you as a makeup artist?
The face sitting in front of me. BEAUTY inspires me. Beauty is everywhere when you look carefully. It sounds corny but it is true. Open up your mind and heart and you͛ll see it!
What motivated the move into makeup from fashion design?
The power of transforming one’s look through painting. I’ve always been painting since I can remember- on canvas and paper- but it was very solitary. Through makeup you meet new people all the time. It’s very direct feedback when you work face to face. There are lots of interactions with other creatives.
What have you been working on lately?
I’ve just finished a very exciting four day shoot with an amazing Creative team for the 2017 Western Australia Ballet. It was very ambitious and conceptual close up makeup and beauty slide projections. I͛m very excited for its release. I’ve also just been confirmed to do the Key Director Makeup for nine shows for M.A.C Cosmetics and Artists@Play during Telstra Perth Fashion Festival this coming September.
Tell us more about how you got started with doll work?
My very first doll paintings began when I was 11 years old. It was my Jem & The Hologram dolls and a few other Barbies. I used my Mum’s nail polishes and nail polish remover as a dilution/remover. During the times when my parents decided to stop buying me dolls because I needed to grow up as a “normal” teenage boy, I remember wiping the smiles off the painted dolls and trying to replace them with sombre expressions. My doll collection started up again in 2004. They’re more expensive this time around! LOL!
The dolls that I create now are more of Art Collectors item, complete with miniature couture. They are customisable and not mass produced. I collect Enchanted Dolls By Marina Bychkova, Popovy Sisters dolls and Superdoll London.
I get asked all the time why I love collecting and painting these dolls. In my normal daily work I love working with other creatives, collaborating and bouncing off ideas to produce an image/story behind the girl. With the Dolls; it’s my solitary time and I can challenge myself to be the photographer, hairstylist, fashion stylist, manicurist and the makeup artist. I have found my escapism in the dolls. Plus, the makeup I paint on these dolls is permanent, so I suppose that makes them miniature makeup archives for me too.
What are some things that you have learnt about makeup via working on the dolls?
I’ve gained so much more knowledge and ideas from painting and customising these miniature art forms. I understand more about photography, silhouettes, wig making, airbrushing, how certain type of paints/pigments sit on certain undertones, transparency, textures, and how certain tones come up on digital cameras and lighting etc. The way I see it now is that real fashion models on a shoot are my living dolls for the day. Having said all that, I don͛t like to work solitary in my normal daily work. I love getting new ideas and collaborating with other creatives. Aesthetically I love mixing it up, everything from glamour to raw and everything in between and beyond beauty.
What would be your five favourite products in your kit?
1. M.A.C Cosmeteics Prep+Prime Highlighter Pen
2. Armani luminous silks
3. My Airbrush Iwata neo Air compressor, Gun and Temptu Silicone bases
4. Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler
5. M.A.C Cosmetics Paint Pots
You are a rare artist who doesn’t have a website. What made you make the decision to rely on word of mouth and social media?
I didn’t make the decision, it just happened that way. I think I can get away without having a website because Perth is small and I’ve been doing this for 20 years – so the word has got around about me. Now with Social media the world seems even smaller and your work spreads to a wider audience.
What would you like to see change about social media influence on the Makeup Industry?
When people use intense bright lights/ring lights for posting social media makeup content. They end up using too much product, liners and overly contoured faces for the make up to show in camera. This can be misleading to the public on what a realistic makeup should be.
What advice would you give to a brand new makeup artist about to embark on their career?
Really LOVE your craft and keep learning and playing! Assist as many artists as you can and collaborate with other creatives. It’s good to paint faces but don’t get lost in the painting. Step back and see the girl in front of you for who she is and what her story/role is for the shoot.
What’s a makeup trend you know many women are going to regret in 10 years’ time?
The InstaBrow and stencilled brows. In 10 years’ time it will be interesting to see what we’ll all think about that brow trend!
Follow Hendra on Instagram: @hendrawmakeup