Ana Takahashi may be a beauty school dropout, but she’s now doing better than ever. What stands out from her make up looks is that they go way further than the all-too-common highlighting and contouring. Her inspirations come from film, art movements and high fashion garments, like Romeo + Juliet (1996), Rococo or Alexander McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2016 collection, and she somehow manages to capture the essence of these and evokes them on the canvas that is her face. This is why she’s garnered a ton of attention through her social media, but it’d be a crime to only call her an Instagram makeup artist; the kind of looks she creates can be considered works of art.
Could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Ana Takahashi and I’m a 19-year-old make up artist from London. I’m Japanese, Spanish and Brazilian. I used to study Make up and Prosthetics at university but I recently dropped out to pursue a freelance makeup career – and I've never been happier.
Could you define your aesthetic in a few words?
Painterly, pleasing to the eye, fun.
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I’ve seen that you started posting make up looks on Instagram a while ago now, and gradually you ended up getting hired for projects. When did you have that defining moment when you started calling yourself a professional make up artist? Was it after taking one particular project?
When I first started freelancing, I never talked about my Instagram or my age because I wanted people to take me and my work seriously. I was quite lucky in that I met loads of cool people on my first shoot, so my portfolio looked professional from the get-go. So I'd say I've been calling myself a makeup artist since my first professional shoot.
What is your creative process like?
The longest part of the process is finding pictures. I have collected inspirational images for years and take a lot of my own too. The subjects could be random things like a bar of soap or a lucha libre mask. I usually have a very vague idea in my head and a few reference pictures. I sit down and get all my makeup out and map out the main shapes. There’s a lot of trial and error with my painterly looks; sometimes, I will end up having four layers of makeup because I paint over certain parts so many times. I never envision the end result but I will always know when it is completed.
You used to go to art school, and that feels very apparent when examining your work, as there is a very painterly aspect to your looks. Do you ever think of going back to working on other mediums?
For sure, I want to go back to doing oil painting, which I'm very fond of. I find it so therapeutic, and there are actually loads of paintings that I never finished, so maybe this is something I will share with my followers in the future.
Also, what do you reckon is your favourite movement form art history? And do you see that reflected in your looks?
Eighteenth-century Rococo. The use of elaborate ornamentation and pastel colours are a common theme in a lot of my looks, and I often search for still life paintings as references for the painted flowery looks I have done. The Wallace Collection in London is an amazing gallery for finding beautiful Rococo painting, architecture and furniture.
On your social media, we can see the inspiration behind your looks. For example, you’ve been inspired by Alexander McQueen’s and Balmain’s collections when it comes to fashion, but you’re also heavily influenced by cinematography, which really surprised me. Which would you say are your favourite movies, aesthetic-wise?
My brother works in the film industry, so he has heavily influenced my love for it over the years. Some of my favourites for cinematography are the Tree of Life, Birdman, The Fall, Her, Singing in the Rain, Romeo + Juliet (1996), Stand By Me, the original and new Blade Runner, Star Wars Episode IV, and every Wes Anderson movie. 
What would be your favourite look you’ve ever done? On you and on another person.
My favourite look of mine is the flowery pearl one that was inspired by the Balmain dress. It was the look that started my career and I spent almost six hours on it, so I'm glad it paid off! In terms of looks I have done on other people, as I work with other creatives on shoots, I find I have less control over what I want to do so I don't have a favourite yet, but I do have a lot of exciting projects coming out soon that I love.
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What would your dream collaboration be?
Working with makeup brands to create new products has always been a dream of mine. I’d love to work with brands like Mac, Pat McGrath and Glossier to create products tailored to super creative/avant-garde makeup lovers. It's definitely a pipe dream at the moment!
What do you think the beauty industry will look like in the next five years? Is this current social media obsession with beauty just a fad?
I think we’ve only just seen the very beginning of the online obsession for beauty, as there's an infinite amount of directions you could take it to. I have seen a few e-makeup artists who use digital effects to enhance makeup, which is fascinating, and I wish I could do it but my technological skills are appalling! I also think that the next generation of makeup artists will be extremely influential, as we are the first generation who have used Instagram during our adolescent years, making it a crucial part of our life (whether we like it or not).
And where do you see this taking you in the future?
For me, the coolest thing about my Instagram is being able to reach out to people I really admire and getting to work with them, so hopefully, the future will hold many more amazing collaborative projects.
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