Face to face

Tina Mokuau

I recently ate dinner at the excellent Vietnamese joint Pho 21, in Northwest Reno, and spotted an eye-catching green-and-pink postcard flyer that read “Makeup Artist.” Hmm, I thought, makeup, that’s an artform we don’t cover nearly often enough in the pages of the RN&R. So I took the flyer and called the number. The makeup artist is Tina Mokuau. She can be reached at 772-0366 or at tinamakeupartist.com.

Tell me about your business.

It’s pretty new, under a year old. I’ve always loved makeup, so I started doing freelance makeup artist work. So far it’s been great. I’ve done weddings, and fashion shows, and personal makeup for special occasions. And I enjoy doing lessons, because a lot of times women get overwhelmed by makeup, and they don’t know what to do with the products, because there’s a million out there, so it’s nice to have somebody go over it with you and put your makeup on and show you step by step what you can do to make it more simple. That’s basically what I do. And makeup for photography or whatever the need may be.

When you give lessons, what’s some of the advice you give?

I really like to concentrate on blending, so that you make sure that you look natural, and a lot of anti-aging tips. I think everything begins with good skin care. You want to make sure that you take good care of your skin, because no matter what amount of makeup you put on it, it’s not going to cover that up. We can do miracles with makeup, it’s just that it’s nice to have the opportunity not to have so much makeup on your face. That’s basically what I concentrate on, and I like to answer whatever questions they have. Because a lot of times they have problems—maybe they’re not good at putting eyeliner on or they’re not good with their eyebrows or whatever.

What are some mistakes that you see a lot of women make?

Well, that it looks really obvious that they’re wearing makeup. It’s not blending well into the jaw line, so therefore it looks like a mask. A lot of times they don’t realize that their face is not just one flat color. Their skin has various tones to it, so sometimes you need to use more than one foundation and blend it in, because of being in the sun or maybe you have a little redness here and there. Therefore, your skin has different tones to it, and sometimes I see women just using one flat color, and we’re all more dimensions than that.

Have you ever done makeup on a man?

You know, I haven’t had the honor yet. I’m looking forward to it. They do use makeup artists a lot, on news for television, photos, modeling jobs. I can say that, at this point, I’ve only done men that would let me play around with them, but not professionally. I’ve done boyfriends in the past [laughs], and I did my mom’s spouse. Just for fun.

What’s one of the stranger makeup jobs you’ve done?

I haven’t done anything really strange—not to me, anyway. That depends on what you think is strange. Sometimes the situations were uncomfortable. I did a fitness show, and they gave the people no place to get dressed, so we did makeup out in a hallway, with just whatever we could find to sit on. Since then, I’ve learned a lot, and now I have my own makeup chair that I bring to jobs.

When you do brides, you’re with them right before their wedding. Do you find you need to soothe their nerves?

Sometimes. Most of them are very happy and excited, and I think it’s just a matter of keeping them calm and giving them confidence that everything is going to be fine and they’re going to look beautiful. Mostly they’re just worried about things going wrong.

Have you ever had something go wrong?

No. Not in my area, anyway! [Laughs.]

What makes makeup a unique artform?

Well, aside from doing makeup I also do regular art—or, I don’t know what you would call it—art not on the face. I like to paint. I like to draw. I like to collage. … You can transfer some of those techniques onto using makeup on the face, such as, I learned a lot about color theory in art school. And color theory works as well when you’re doing somebody’s makeup. It helps you with the use of colors, what’s good on the skin tone, and the blending techniques, and all those things you would learn in art school, you can transfer to doing somebody’s makeup.

And makeup is art you do right on the body, like tattooing.

Right. We’re one huge canvas, and I think—of course there are men who wear makeup—but most women are fortunate that we can do that. We get to play with makeup and express ourselves artistically that way too, aside from doing a painting or a picture, we can do ourselves daily.