5 Reasons Why Celebrity Make Up Artist Joshen Vahn Lee is the Next Big Thing
If there’s probably anything more interesting that celebrities, it’s the people behind the scenes that help make them who they are. Lucky enough for us, we got the chance to meet with Carlo Aquino and many other celebs’ main hair and makeup artist - Joshen Vahn Lee.
The first thing I noticed when I met him was how strongly visible his creative soul is. He is quirky-funny and intelligent at the same time. He is able to spark emotion effortlessly with his social media posts. Josh is able to create something beautiful without trying so hard. He struck me as a person who has so much more to give than what his viral IG posts are credited for. He is his own story worth telling and sharing to others.
Finding his passion
Before Josh even became the make-up artist of Exes Baggage star Carlo Aquino, he started out like most of us - working our way to the top while we figure out what it is that we really want to do in our lives.
“Hindi naman ako talaga nagumpisa as a makeup artist, pero ito na ang bread and butter ko. Nagulat nga ako na meron pala akong talent dito. I’m very happy and grateful I am able to help my family and friends with the work I do,” he mused. (“I didn’t really start as a makeup artist but this has been my bread and butter. I was surprised to find out I had the talent to do it. I’m very happy and grateful to help my family and friends with the work I do.”)
Josh started out in the industry as a creative director for an agency. We won’t mention the fact that he also used to be part of a dance group (oops!) and slowly went his way, figuring out what works best for him without sacrificing his interest for the arts. Until one day, he found his niche in the world of celebrity make up and grooming.
Not afraid to learn
Admittedly, Josh did not know much about applying make-up or grooming others when he started out. He knew the basics, but not enough to call himself a legit make-up artist. So, he did what any hardworking person would. He studied and learned under mentors. “Nag-apprentice ako, assistant ganyan, until I honed my skills. Madami ako natutunan and I still continue to learn. I update myself with the new trends but still balance it sa gusto ng friends ko.”
Treating clients like family
The light banter between Josh, Angelica and Carlo at the set of Exes Baggage was noticeable and something that strikes an outsider curious.
“Si Kaye Abad ang isa sa mga una ko na alaga. Si Zanjoe din. Matagal ko na sila mga alaga. Taon na din ang bibilangin. Si Carlo din. Matagal na kami magkakasama. Naging kaibigan at pamilya ko na sila.” (“Kaye Abad was one of my first clients. Zanjoe too. I’ve been taking care of them for a long time - years, in fact. Carlo also. We’ve been [working] together for so long, they’ve already become my friends and family.”)
While it wasn’t explicitly said during the interview, it was a subtle learning one picks up from Josh. It isn’t enough that you work hard at what you do - you also need to be someone your clients can trust and be friends with. In fact, they have become family.
Work hard every single day
Being a celebrity make-up artist is not an easy job. “Minsan segue ako from taping to film. Hindi ko naman pwede iwan si Z (Zanjoe) o si Carlo or sino man ang alaga ko for the day dahil lang wala akong tulog or pagod ako. Yung puyat at pagod ay part na ng trabaho ko.” (“Sometimes, I’ll segue from taping to film. I can’t just leave Zanjoe or Carlo or whoever I’m working with for the day because I didn’t get any sleep or I’m tired. Sleeplessness and exhaustion has been part of my job.”)
The work isn’t done after you’ve applied the last touch of powder or setting spray. “Hindi ka pwede magkamali. Dapat maayos at perfect.” (“You can’t make mistakes. It should always be well done and perfect.”) Weekends are the only days spent with family and friends, sometimes, not even. “Magiging choosy pa ba ako e ito na ang bread and butter ko?” (“How can I be choosy when this is my bread and butter?”)
It wouldn’t hurt to be nice
As a celebrity make-up artist, Josh doesn’t just work with his alagas. He also works with the production crew, and a whole lot of other people. How do you deal with so many personalities in the workplace? He gives us the best advice, “Pag marunong ka makisama, mas dadali ang trabaho. At lagi lang dapat happy para magaan ang work.” (“Knowing how to work well with other people makes the job easier. And you have to always stay happy so work feels lighter.”)
There’s no doubt about it. Josh is a successful makeup artist waiting to happen.
Here’s a teaser of an upcoming video on grooming your jowa, Carlo Aquino.