Chameleon Tendencies

I’ve known Tayen for a few years now–she even helped my husband and I with some great marriage counsel when we were still wet behind our “dating” ears. This one is so multi-faceted that I’ve even heard others ask “What DON’T you do?” I feel the same sometimes when I’ve been with her from art show, to church conference, to bible study, to animation project, to photo shoot. She is a great girl to have in your tool belt and as a source of encouragement and  support.

Tayen is someone I’ve always known to come through and that’s why I love sharing a vision with her. You’ll see that I’m in a few of her photos and I’ve also hired her for my personal photography gigs. We’ll drop a few of her “hats” and focus on her role in the fashion industry in order to get a few golden nuggets you and I can use in our day-to-day.

Having started out pretty young in the fashion and bridal industries, will you delve into some details about your first day “on the job” and how much you’ve grown since then?

well, i do remember my first day doing a bridal show, which was when my education of hair and make-up styling began. the mother of a friend of mine opened a bridal boutique in l.a. and asked a few of my friends and me to model for her at her opening show. i thought, “pshaw!  i can’t model!  i’m 5’5″ and have no boobs.” but with a little encouragement from my friend, my curiosity overcame my fears.

recalling the frenzy and precision of the make-up and hair stylists at the show makes me thankful for the years of hands-on education now. that first day was a flash of chiffon, color, and hairspray. i have indeed learned a great deal about patience and taking direction since then. today, my highest priority during a shoot or event that i style is the balance of artistry and client satisfaction.
Artistry definitely shows in your work, and I love that your styling has such a chameleon-like quality. How did you come up with a diverse taste and fashion sensibility?
honestly, all these things you say about me is news to me. thank you. i suppose due to my commitment-phobia, i’ve tried my hand at all curious styles and techniques.  perhaps my A.D.D.-ness is a factor as well. i grew up adoring audrey hepburn’s elegance and sophistication, yet am also a product of 80’s glam and pop.  in addition, i was a teen during the 90’s grunge and hip-hop height, so naturally i do tend to run to that love affair once in a while. to truly boil it down, i’m discovering that having a constant sensitivity and attraction to aesthetic experiences keeps me inspired and adventurous.
Curiosity has been a major factor in your ability to do hair, makeup, styling, and accessorizing. Is wearing multiple hats during your project something you enjoy being able to do or was it born more out of necessity?
i do very much enjoy doing these things. it’s like playing dolls with real people–a little girl’s dream come true.
Speaking of dolls, many models out there are new to the privilege of getting their hair and makeup done. What are some tips for them to become the best canvas for a makeup artist?
i’ve been on both sides of the creative process–the artist and the client. so i’ve come to learn that what i know as an artist, i need to apply as a client. though most people know the reaction or feel of what they wish to produce, the reason to hire an artist to execute it is to rely on the artist’s creativity to produce it. therefore, the most fun gigs (for the client as well as for myself) have always been those in which both parties were open to each other and tried to keep from being too locked down to a particular detail.
one of my favorite clients said, “i want something romantic and feminine. and something that says ‘me'” and then we chatted a bit about her life and i got to know her. i knew very easily what we could do and i brought some new ideas to the table that she never thought of before. they pushed the envelope a bit, but were totally her. sharing what you absolutely hate is also a good idea, since it’s impossible to list all the things you might be open to.
That’s a great example of the balance between the client’s wishes and the artist’s execution. I know that most artists at a shoot aren’t this accommodating, so how have your clients responded to this?
generally, i think (or at best, hope) that my brides feel special and encouraged. i try to make the entire process as lovely as possible. a wedding day (and season) is stressful enough. they don’t need a diva make-up artist stressing them about their style. so i try to lift them up as we work together, and they’ve really enjoyed their sessions so far. for fashion shoots, i hope that i’ve done the same. most times, models can easily get dehumanized. i hope to address them as co-workers and encourage them. i think they respond with confidence and appreciation.

Besides the pairing of your client and being “in the moment”, is there a certain magazine, blog, store, location that you go in order to spark your creativity?

there are no particular publications that i seek out for inspiration…but i do enjoy fashion magazines. vogue and harper’s bazaar have been my faves since high school. i think i get inspired a great deal by watching people in l.a., nyc, or seoul.

not necessarily their styles, but their behaviors. i also get largely inspired by aesthetic experiences from which to build a story. for instance, i was eating the most divine gelato one day which was pistachio but a very mild beige color and began to imagine sitting at a fire-place in a cabin, eating it with enormously fluffy boots, my hair sleeked back and up in a tall pony tail and several tiny cat-sized deer scattered about the room.  one day, i’d love to do that shoot. any designers out there make fluffy boots?
Since you have a great mind for high fashion concepts, is that the type of shoot you naturally gravitate towards?

one side of me adores bridal because of what it means. but the other side loves high fashion because of what i get to do. i suppose as far as the work itself, i prefer fashion shows or shoots because we’re creating a product and an experience, and i get to be the director of my product. and when i’m not the director, at least everyone i’m working with has the artistry and highest standards for the product in mind.
By putting all of these skills together and mixing them in a creative pot, what would you say is your ultimate goal in the fashion industry?
i would love to work with different designers and magazines to put on fantastic shows and campaigns. ultimately, as fashion goes, because i’m more of an illustrator and narrative creator, it would be fulfilling to design ad campaigns and fashion shows that marry my style sensibility with my animation/illustration work.
If only we had the money to produce the many ideas we have! However, most of us here are on a budget and it’s hard enough just to put a great outfit together. Please give us some advice on how to do that and where we should look first. 
yes, i’m always on a budget. priorities are key in my life. i do a great deal of repurposing and altering my own pieces. the most important thing is to keep a few great basic pieces on which you should invest, and then embellish on them. for instance, i make sure to spend good money on my basic little black dresses, a good winter coat, some cardigans, a pencil skirt, a few solid button-up tops, and a great blazer. there are others too: like a few good t-shirts, well-fitting jeans, great boots, an evening heel, and a good pair of sneakers, but i’m sure most people already invest in those things.

then i do my seasonal shopping/mix-and-matching. i’ve been a forever 21 shopper since 1995. of course you can never go wrong at ross or marshalls if you’re in the right neighborhood. neighborhood is crucial, folks. don’t underestimate the bargains at nord rack or anthro during sale seasons. and target is great for those basic necessities that are comfortable and cute. as for websites, i only do vintage shopping online because i’m a very hands-on type of person. my go-to vintage shops are on ebay. i have a delightful little bright blue number from the 1960’s that i’ve worn for 5 years now which only cost me $15.
So what makeup goes with these great outfits we’re putting together? It can be overwhelming walking into a Sephora or Mac type store and having to choose your staple items, so can we get a cheat sheet?
i do believe in investing in good basics. i say invest in your make-up base, foundation, something for the cheek or for contouring, eye-liner, and mascara. foundation is important because it’s the thing that has direct contact with your skin. also, it determines the difference between geisha and starlet. and of course nothing is worse than clumpy, flakey eye-liner or mascara. i’ve used black liquid eye-liner every day since i was 15 (that’s 17 years) and so i’ve become somewhat of an expert at them. so far, i have yet to find a better liner than korean brands. from the application to the lasting qualities, american brands can’t compare.
View Tayen’s portfolio on Facebook and don’t miss out on her personal art as well! (Photos courtesy of: Jennifer Sosa, Shelly Eve, Mike Kim, and Kytia L’amour)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. tayen says:

    my dear, how kind you are.

    thanks for the encouragement and love, tia! you’re a golden nugget if i ever saw one.
    love you!

  2. You’re very welcome, Miss Tayen!

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