Blanche Macdonald Makeup Graduate-turned-Instructor Win Liu Mixes Fashion, Film and Full-time Flare!
“I’m jealous of Makeup Artists who can narrow it down to Fashion or TV and film,” laughs Blanche Macdonald graduate-turned-instructor Win Liu. “I love working on both! I’m represented by the model and talent agency, Lizbell, and I’m also an IATSE permittee, which means I get to work on union shows like Arrow, Warriors, Motive, Almost Human and Wayward Pines. That’s great for me. I get the best of both worlds!”
Every job has its perks for Win, whether it’s the challenge, the people or just seeing the end results. If she’s doing a Beauty application or Special Makeup Effects, she throws herself into her work with the same effervescent enthusiasm that first brought her to Blanche Macdonald.
“I’d studied painting and fashion, and was working in fashion, making couture collections for private clients. I just didn’t see fashion as a full-time career. I woke up one morning thinking ‘what else can I do with my hands and brushes?’ Later that day I walked into Blanche Macdonald and asked if I could talk to someone about the Makeup Program. Jaye Klippenstein showed me some portfolios and I said, ‘OK!”
Win started her studies convinced that she’d focus on Fashion Makeup. That was the plan. Right up until she took Jen Folk’s Special Makeup Effects class.
“I was sure that I wanted to do only runway,” smiles Win. “Then Jen showed me a whole new world. She came in on the first day of class and said, ‘Ok guys, today I’m going to teach you to make a dead finger.’ We made a bloody latex finger and that night I brought it to a pub to watch a hockey game. I left the finger on the table and freaked out the bartender. After that I was totally into prosthetics and makeup effects.”
That instant passion took Win to two IMATS Character Prosthetics Finals, taking the Third Place Trophy in Los Angeles by turning her brother into a monstrous version of Henry VIII. Win had natural talent, but she also embraced the Blanche Macdonald philosophy that it’s never too early to start acting like a professional.
“I volunteered my butt off. Everything and anything. I was volunteering at a gala at Shoppers Drug Mart on Dunbar Street when I was still doing the Makeup Fundamentals module. I was so busy doing makeup after makeup. Two weeks later I received a phone call. The voice on the other end said, ‘You don’t know me, but I saw your work at Shoppers and I like what you do. Would you like to join the Lancôme demo team?’ I was with Lancôme for four and half years, eventually becoming their Senior Demo Artist for Vancouver. That all came from a day’s volunteering!”
Win’s fast track into Lancôme’s Beauty Team went hand-in-hand with her entry into the world of Special Makeup Effects. She’d barely completed the Effects module at Makeup School when she was bringing those skills to the world with Vancouver heavy metallers 3 Inches Of Blood.
“After that I was asked by Jon Hennessey to be the key artist for the background performers for Marianas Trench’s ‘Haven’t Had Enough’ video. It was a great vote of confidence and I was so grateful for the opportunity to work with Jon, Jenna Kuchera and other wonderful Blanche Macdonald grads.”
People know about Win’s skills now. As an IATSE permittee, she’s at the front of the line whenever a BC makeup department is looking for an artist who’s both versatile and great company.
“I’ve worked with Danielle Fowler on Arrow a few times. I’d go to the trailer and it’s full of Blanche Macdonald grads! Leah Ehman was the key on the second unit and I assisted her. I did one scene when I had to quickly makeup an actress’s hands and feet to make it look like she was a corpse. That was some fun colouration!
“A lot of the time people I’ve worked with before request me personally. On Warriors I did an episode with a lot of background actors with prosthetic limbs. Part of my job was to cover up a lot of sleeves, hands and knuckle tattoos. Tattoo artists have sued TV companies for showing their art without their approval.
“I did a commercial for Scion that ran in movie theatres. It was great to see that on the big screen. With moving images, hard days of work go by in seconds. With print you can indulge for as long as you want! They’re two different kinds of thrill. I love both!”
She deserves her indulgence. Win’s passion for fashion is what made her excited about Makeup to begin with, and campaigns for Kit and Ace, Fidelity Denim, Oak + Fort, Eliza Faulkner, Lonsdale, VOVO Design and Tonic Active Wear and features in magazines like Flare, Hypebeast, Cake, Factice, the Georgia Straight, Fresh, Press, WedLux and BonBon form just part of her always-expanding résumé. That eye for high fashion has also taken Win beyond Vancouver, all the way to backstage at designer shows at New York and Toronto Fashion Weeks.
“Jon Hennessey invited me, Jenna Kuchera and Oz Zandiyeh to New York Fashion Week a year and a half ago to work with him on Raif Adelberg. In New York I recognized the face of a facebook friend who I’d never met, Ido Raphael a makeup artist from Israel. We became real friends, kept in touch and Ido asked me to help when he was keying his first New York Fashion Week show for Katya Leonovich. It was fabulous!
“In Toronto I was assisting Grace Lee, Maybelline Canada’s leading Makeup Artist. I’d been introduced to Grace, so I sent her an email and she asked me to come out and help. Assisting her really opened my eyes. She made me realize how much more than artistry was required to be a great key makeup artist for such a massive task; dealing with non-stop medias, interviews, recaps for bloggers on the makeup looks she created, designers' requests, and addressing key points and concerns with her team. She showed me how important it is to be generous and gracious with everybody.”
The thing that links all Win’s creative achievements is the artistic eye and unbridled enthusiasm she brings to everything she touches. Which is exactly what led top Canadian agency Lizbell to her door.
“I always consider myself pretty lucky. But luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, right? That's the Pisces in me!” she laughs. “The calibre of Liz's models and artists are at such a high level. They make me proud to now be a member of the family.
“Being represented by Lizbell gives ‘validation’ to my career. It means my work has been recognized and a team of professionals is willing to work with me on a new level. That potentially means bigger projects, organized events, celebrities and opportunities of working abroad. I’m beyond excited to embark on this great partnership!”
Positivity comes naturally to Win. Which is why she’s the perfect fit to teach makeup fundamentals and makeup for fashion to the next generation of great artists.
“I always ask for more from my students. I want them to learn as much as they can and then try something they thought they’d never do and break the boundaries. Makeup School is the perfect environment for that. You can’t really make mistakes. You’ll always learn from them. I want them to be all they can be and more. I tell my students that once you understand the rules, you’ll know how to break them.
“What I learned at Blanche Macdonald, and what I teach now, is how important it is to always be professional. You’re working for the photo or the show, not for yourself or to showcase your skills. It’s vital to know what everyone wants and how you can reach that goal collectively. That means showing your warm personality but not being too chatty. You can be professional and still have fun at the same time. That’s one of the main things that I tell my students. It doesn’t matter how much you know or how good a Makeup Artist you’re going to be. Leave your ego at the door!”