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The talent: Karen Yiu, make-up artist and body painter

Dervla Louli

 

Make-up artist and body painter Karen Yiu has worked with the likes of mainland actors Zhou Xun and Huang Xiaoming, and on reality television show America's Next Top Model.

You must have some interesting stories from behind the scenes. Care to share any? "I have thousands of them … enough to write a book! I had always wanted to work on [America's Next Top Model] and, when it finally happened, it was like a dream. I went to Macau and worked on six models. It was a hot day and we were shooting inside a temple with lots of lighting and no air conditioning. I did everything by myself as my assistants wiped the sweat from my brow - it was like perfoming surgery as they passed me brushes. There was no room for error as the film crew watched my every move and recorded every word. I felt like I was sitting the biggest exam of my life. It was strenuous but I loved the experience and I'm so proud that I was featured on the show."

When did you get into body painting? "I started in 2005, when I went to the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria. This year will be my ninth trip. It is a form of living art; I can design, create and get inspired by everything. With traditional make-up, you must stay within the limitations and boundaries of the face. I love make-up, but I'm always looking for ways to reinvent the art."

How do you stay focused? "The first few years working with celebrities I felt overwhelmingly nervous, but hid it and no one noticed. After eight years my confidence and experience outweigh any nerves. My background in social work also helps me get through stressful situations."

You're known for your bright pink hair. How did that come about? "My hair stylist, Norman, created my signature pink hairstyle five years ago when I first started working as a make-up artist in Hong Kong. He said my look didn't suit my profession and I needed a change. He was right; I was wearing glasses and still looked like a social worker. If you work in the fashion industry you need to have a strong look that people easily associate you with. Now artists, photographers, models and everyone else in the industry that I've worked with remember me."

What is your idea of the worst make-up faux pas? "I think orange fake tan is the worst, because it lasts for such a long time and you can't remove it instantly. At least with make-up, if you make a mistake you can wipe it off."

 

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