In the fashion world, a body can act as a canvas for different artists and their visions. From photographers, to clothing stylists, to makeup artists, the body is a canvas for creativity. For Ayami Nishimura, makeup is a field that allows for endless experimentation, visual discovery, and development of new looks. With over 20 years of experience in the fashion and beauty industry, Ayami continues to push the envelope with her magazine cover looks and new ideas. Her latest endeavor with POLA is the next step in her artistic journey, and we’re excited to see what’s in store.
Check out our interview with Ayami below, and get a sense of how she views her art and makeup, what young aspiring artists should do to propel themselves, and what her new work with POLA entails.
What did your life look like in the past, and how does it look today? Where do you see yourself in the future?
I’ve been working in the fashion and beauty industry as a makeup artist for over 20 years, mainly on photo shoots – it has been a continuous learning journey. I am happy now to express what I’ve learned so far with POLA Colors as a colour director, creating products for them which just launched. I will be working on developing colors, products and lines going forward and making visuals including makeup tutorial videos and image photos & videos. I hope that my tutorial videos will educate women about how to use the products to help them look and feel more beautiful.
What excites you about working as a makeup artist? What are some of your goals, and how do you aim to achieve them?
Working as a makeup artist allows me to express my creativity and my interests in makeup. I really enjoy creating the collections for POLA and I would like to create a whole visual image based on my ideas for the future. I think it is good for training to make tutorial videos and short visual image videos to express my own ideas and to talk about my perspectives on beauty, fashion and makeup.
Can you tell us a little about your book, and specifically, what it was like to create each of the images? What was your process with Rankin like? Organized, or more carefree?
Rankin was very open about my ideas and always encouraged me to follow my vision. I emailed him to explain my concepts with a few references and he was always excited. I was lucky to have support from set designers and stylists to make my ideas come to life. Although it was lots of fun, it was hard to organize shooting dates with Rankin. Otherwise, I enjoyed every single part of the process when it came to creating the book. I planned ideas, shot with Rankin, chose images with him and then sat down with re-toucher to finish each image too.
Which of the images in the book are your favorite, and why?
It’s hard to select 1 image as a favourite because I love all of them. I think I really like the two images with the colourful dotted makeup. I was inspired by African mask art and really wanted to make this idea come to life with makeup. I did one on a black girl and another on a white girl and I think it looks very original and very fun. Also I love the image where black liquid runs over black girl’s face, it’s a very simple and strong image to catch your eyes.
As someone who has lived in three of the largest and most influential cities in the world — Tokyo, London, New York — what does each of these cities mean to you? Which one is your favorite, and why?
I love city life, I just like where people are and how fast everything happens. Each of these cities has a strong personality and each is unique. I love all three cities for different reasons. I love Tokyo because it is intense and high quality about lots of things, a very unique city with generous people. London is just amazing, I love English people – I love their sense of humour, music, arts, fashion and I feel comfortable with how time moves a little slower in this city. NY is challenging, I am still working on it. I love the energy in New York, life is very fast and you can do lots of things very quickly.
It is nice to experience all of these different lives.
You’ve worked with such an incredible range of people, from Goldfrapp to Top Models. Can you tell us who you most enjoyed working with? What were some of the best stories you remember from these experiences?
I enjoy meeting different people and doing makeup on them. Alison is one of the most creative artists I’ve ever met in my life and also a very warm friend. M.I.A is strong and clear about what she wants to have. Once, I was on a two day video shoot with her in London and at the end of her first day, she decided she didn’t like how the visual looked. She spoke to the director and on the second day, she changed the whole lighting and direction. Now she makes her videos herself.
Models, I always love them. They are sweet when they are young and new and they learn with their experiences. I think most successful models are very intelligent people and are strong minded.
Any advice for young aspiring makeup artists? What can they do to launch their careers, anywhere they can look to for insight or inspiration?
I think it is very fun for young people to work in the fashion industry. We all love beautiful things, don’t we? You don’t worry about not making much money when you are young. I think they should just enjoy working on shoots and keep working hard on finding their own style. Later, when they need to stand on their own, they are required to have their own vision and things should come from inside them, not only references.
What does it mean to be a woman during a time like this? What makes you feel empowered to do your job well?
I just think each of us needs to be strong and respect ourselves. This is an important and pivotal time for women. Now, women are standing together and supporting each other more than ever. I don’t feel that the times have changed, it’s that now people are aware of what is happening when in the past it was hidden. I hope that this newfound awareness will lead to some real change.
What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve recently faced as an artist? How did you overcome?
A: POLA Color direction is my first foray into product development. It is enjoyable but took lots of my time to research, make decisions and explain my thoughts to people. Also the lipstick image shoot which I did for them was totally my project from beginning to end — I chose the location, the photographer, the model and worked on my idea and got 8 amazing pictures and made a film.
How did you go about launching your new line of lipstick with POLA? How did this collaboration happen, and what do you feel you achieved through this?
POLA B.A is a long established and respected skincare line that’s been around for 35 years. As a complement to their existing product line, they wanted to launch a line of makeup. Someone from their lab saw my book and he contacted me to discuss the prospect and one year later we decided to work together. I am very happy with my color direction and I would love to get more involved in their main advertising visuals in the future.
Thank you Ayami, for taking the time to talk to us about your work and for believing in the future of women’s shoes! Don’t forget to take a look at our shop for the perfect pair of flats >>