"I love creating out of nothing": Owen Sarmiento on being a celeb MUA
They say the world is different through an artist’s eyes: it’s bolder, more colorful, and full of life. This is certainly evident in the work of celebrity makeup artist Owen Sarmiento, who is regularly called upon to transform the most famous faces in the entertainment industry. His client list includes the likes of Yeng Constantino, Kim Jones, Jolina Magdangal, Arci Munoz, and Angeline Quinto, and his name is ever present in magazine spreads and covers.
We wanted to learn more about how his makeup unfolds beauty in its cleanest and most natural form, and we were thrilled to find that this industry bigwig has a warm and accommodating persona! Read on to get inspired by Owen’s story of painting faces, pushing limits, and venturing into the world of beauty.
Who is Owen Sarmiento? Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Ever since I was a kid, I have always been into the arts. I did a lot of crafting, I sketched, I sewed, I decorated, I designed. I spent all my free time creating and being creative. I was born into a poor family but I was very resourceful. I love creating out of nothing.
Who are you as a makeup artist? How were you inspired to pursue this career, and who inspired you?
As a makeup artist, I have always pushed my limits. I love trying different looks and keeping a wide range of makeup styles. As a kid, I most enjoyed sketching women's faces. I would even use real makeup (my mom’s) on paper until I realized I could apply it on my sister instead! It was during this time that I first laid eyes on the works of the great Fanny Serrano. It was really seeing his makeup genius that I started to dream of becoming a makeup artist and of being good at it. I would spend hours and hours in recreating the looks he created for his muses like Lorna Tolentino, Sharon Cuneta, Vilma Santos and the like.
How did you begin your journey in the world of makeup?
I was 9 years old when I did my sister's makeup when she graduated in her prep school! I’ve never stopped learning and teaching myself since then. Professionally, it was in 2007 when I joined MAC Cosmetics Philippines to be a retail makeup artist. I was based in Marionnaud in SM Mall of Asia.
We hear that you also love to paint. Is this a factor that you consider important to how you view colors on a person’s face?
Painting came a little later actually. It was in June 2015 that I first did an actual painting, and it was more of a necessity. My partner and I were looking for paintings to hang on the walls of our house then, and while there were many beautiful paintings (both affordable and expensive), they meant nothing to us. So I decided to make the paintings myself and discovered how to manipulate acrylic paints.
When it comes to makeup, it takes years of experience to know the right colors to be used on someone's face. Knowing the basics of color theory is important but the color spectrum for makeup goes beyond that. Being able to analyze the base and undertone of a certain color is another story, and creating colors that are not immediately available in your makeup kit is a challenge. Textures and finishes and coverage also play an important factor so one must train his/her eyes to carefully look at these things.
What is your favorite part of the job and why do you love it? And what are the not-so-glam experiences that come with being a makeup artist?
It's always fun to work with other artists and learn from their craftsmanship. It just naturally energizes everyone and the entire workroom! I just hope I was younger to physically accommodate some challenges of this job. Lack of sleep, outdoor locations, carrying heavy makeup tools, etc. can be very physically taxing.
Do you have favorite collaborations or memorable collaborations with your clients? What made these experiences stand out?
When I first started in the industry, I did a lot of magazine work. I believe that's where my name and my work really started to get noticed. Working with editors, fashion and beauty directors, stylists, photographers, designers and everybody else in the production team is something that I think ALL upcoming makeup artists should aspire to do because it will really train them and enhance their skills. This talented group of people will also teach them about good taste, which is a very important element in doing makeup. Working with these people will always be very memorable to me.
If you had not pursued a career in makeup, what do you think you’d be doing right now?
I would definitely be working in the advertising or entertainment industry, directing or conceptualizing. I love highly creative tasks. It really gets me going!
What are your most recent projects? What should we watch out for?
I just finished a collab with Make Up For Ever, wherein I conducted training workshops for their in-house makeup experts and customers. I am about to do the same for another brand, we just have to finalize the dates. I will be posting updates on my social media accounts.
What are your favorite makeup techniques?
Generally, I just like blurring all my lines and edges. Blending everything into nothingness. So no matter how severe your color choices are, your makeup will still look soft and clean.
What makeup style are you most known for, or something that may be considered as the Owen Sarmiento signature look?
I love using warm browns in almost everything! It's something I got from Fanny Serrano. And for me it's always about the depth and dimension of the face. Shading and highlighting are in their right places. The whole face is lit and pleasing to the eyes.
What are the top makeup items that you love and would keep in your kit forever?
Bronzers and contour powders, warm brown eyeshadows and blushers, nude lipsticks, lash curler and mascara will always be in my kit. These products will already complete a dimensional face.
What beauty kit staples do you think every makeup lover should have?
A concealer, a translucent pressed powder, a pink blush, a mascara, and a lipstick or tinted lip balm will be enough.
What beauty advice can you give to our readers?
I always give this advice to everyone who asks me this question: Create your own signature look and be the envy of everyone else.
Header image via Star Studio