A Conversation with...

Nick Barose

Nick Barose is not your conventional makeup artist. A native of Thailand, Nick took an interest in the trade at an early age, practicing on his sisters and cousins with makeup borrowed from his mother抯 vanity. After moving to New York and learning tips and tricks from the best in the business, Nick has become a highly sought-after makeup artist working within the fashion industry as well as with celebs. When he抯 not readying models for a photo shoot or beautifying actresses, this diversely talented makeup artist spends his time expanding his notable photography portfolio and practicing Muay Thai. We talked with Nick to get a better understanding of this man of many trades.

Tell us how you got started as a makeup artist.
I grew up in Thailand with two sisters and lots of girl cousins that I would play with. As a teenager, I would go through my mother抯 vanity and play with her Mary Quant crayons and her hair pieces, trying to emulate the looks from fashion magazines. I would try the looks on my sisters and cousins and our housekeepers. Sometimes we would even do little fashion shows, and I would be the director. I would dress everybody up in clothes from my mom抯 closet and take pictures and pretend we were on a Vogue shoot.

I got my big break by writing to Kevyn Aucoin asking to be his assistant. I got to work for him while I was in my last year at Parsons studying Environmental Design.

What do you like about being a makeup artist?
I love that I get to meet so many people I admire and am inspired by. I抳e had the opportunity to work with photographers such as Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz on Vogue and Vanity Fair shoots. I also get to work with actresses I love watching on screen like Lena Dunham, Michelle Williams, Brooke Shields, Amy Adams and Vera Farmiga. As an artist, it is so great to be around other great artists from different fields and be inspired by their journeys, craft and work ethic.

Who are your beauty icons?
Grace Jones, Ava Gardner, Dolores Del Rio, Anna May Wong, Bianca Jagger and Greta Garbo.

Your job gives you the privilege of styling many gorgeous celebrities. Who have you been most excited to work with?
I love comedy, so I really like when I get to work with people who make me laugh in TV and film. I抳e worked with Anna Gasteyer, Lena Dunham, Wanda Sykes, Kirsten Johnston and Kim Cattrall.

Who is your dream celebrity client?
Sexy women with an edge. As you can tell, I抳e got a thing for brunettes! Alive, I would love to work with Angelina Jolie. Dead, Greta Garbo and Ava Gardner.

What are your beauty rules of thumb?
I don't really believe in rules; makeup is a form of expression. I love it when people use it to express themselves rather than trying to be like everybody else. One time a hairdresser抯 assistant showed up on a shoot with shocking pink eyebrows卆nd I loved it! I don't like cookie-cutter looks.

Your biggest makeup pet peeve?
It抯 the same as with fashion梬hen people get too obsessed with price tags, thinking that because a product is super fancy it must be good. I know people with really bad, clogged skin who swear by their $700 jars of face cream (which clearly don抰 work for them). Because of my job, I get expensive products sent to me all the time, but I use Cetaphil for myself, which I have to buy for $10.

Do you have any tips for matching your makeup to your hairstyle?
It's about balance梱ou don't want to overdo either. If the makeup is strong, then the hair should be less done. If the hair is done glamorous, then makeup should be simple so you won't look dated. I've done shoots before with dramatic hair, and I was totally okay with barely doing any makeup on the models. It's about the big picture.

What are some great makeup trends we can try out this season?
Strong, bold color combinations worn together, but two max. Try electric green or vivid blue liner with bold orange or red lips or nails.

We hear you are quite skilled in Muay Thai. How did you get started doing that?
I was born in Thailand, and Muay Thai is our national sport. Muay Thai means the art of eight limbs: arms, legs, knees, elbows. I used to learn it in school as a kid but wasn't so serious about it. Two or three years ago, I started training in boxing at my regular gym. I loved it but got a little bored because I wanted to kick too, so I started training Muay Thai with one of the best trainers in the world, Aziz Nabih at Sitan Muay Thai gym in NYC. It's such great exercise because you work out the whole body and you sweat a lot. It's really hard and takes a lot out of you, but the result is instant. Some days we do 1,000-plus punches and my arms can barely move the next day, but they look super ripped. It's a great sport for women卼here are lots of girl fighters at my gym that kick ass and look good doing it.

Any future goals with Muay Thai?
Maybe one day I'll fight in the ring卐ven though my agent always says that I抣l end up showing up to a big job on crutches with two front teeth missing. That would make for an interesting day of work!

You were previously selected by Vogue Italia and Art + Commerce to be a part of their PhotoVogue collection as an up-and-coming photographer to watch. When did you start picking up the camera?
My dad is really into photography. He took a lot of our pictures, so I grew up being around it and used to model for him and as a kid. I also loved to dress up my two sisters and cousins and take pictures of them. After many years of working on sets with amazing梐nd some not so amazing梡hotographers, I had an itch to pick up the camera myself. I抳e been taking classes at the International Center of Photography (ICP) for a few years. I love shooting real people, and I抦 very much inspired by people I know.

What is your favorite subject to photograph?
I love real people, portraits, street stuff and athletes. It's funny because doing makeup is my day job, but most of the photos I shoot don't really show makeup or faces. I usually throw dark shadows on the face or crop it out completely unless it's a makeup story, which I rarely shoot. I'm known for dunking buckets of water on people and letting their makeup run a little. I don't want to see a pretty face when I shoot.

Who are your favorite photographers? What do you like about their work?
Horst P. Horst: I love his use of shadows and how modern his images are, like the Nautilus Pompileus II or the Mainbocher Corset image.

Irving Penn: I love that he does fashion stuff, but he also does very interesting still life. I love how the still life shots he did for Vogue were always very smart. He would put objects in a shot together in a simple way, but they told a story in a big way.

Avedon: I love his personal work like the portraits of real people that might not be flattering but are really intense. The images are very opposite from his elegant fashion work. One of my favorite fashion images of all time is "Dovima with the Elephants." I love that he experimented a lot and seemed like he had fun doing it. I always see pictures of him jumping around on shoots like he's on 20 cups of coffee. I love his motion photos as well.

Edward Steichen: I just love all his images. His shoots are usually very dark and moody and are always mysterious. Sometimes you don't have to show everything and keep a little mystery for the viewers.

Helmut Newton: I love the way he loved women. It's real and not shocking for the sake of being shocking. I find a lot of fashion photos these days try to be sexually provocative. I'm not into those fake fetish-themed fashion photos. I like real stuff. "Shoot what you know well" is my mantra.

Raghubir Singh: I love his images of his country, India. They抮e real and beautiful, and because he's Indian, I don't think he tries to make India look exotic. It抯 the real India, it just happens to be beautiful without trying.

- JACKIE HYMAN

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