Photo courtesy of Elise Schatz
Specks of powder balancing on the thin bristles of a makeup brush possess the power to alter an appearance with a few strategic strokes. Often times, makeup is seen as a cover up—a mask to hide flaws and blemishes. This is not the case for makeup prodigy, Wilson Lu. His passion for makeup is palpable. It is his artform, his outlet, his talent. The faces of his friends and family are his canvas, and over the last few years he has developed his craft.
Wilson’s passion for makeup began with his infatuation with watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as a child. This show did not just entertain, it was the inspiration that gave way to his current aspirations.Traditionally, makeup has been seen as something strictly feminine, but Wilson did not allow gender stereotypes to define what he could and could not do. “I realized it’s not really something that is exclusive to women only, and I liked that it’s something different. It really inspires people to go for what they want and not let gender rules stop them from what they want to do.”
When he was a freshman, Wilson started to take makeup more seriously. He began to teach himself how to properly apply eyeshadow and foundation, and with time, his skillset started to take off. According to Wilson, learning to develop his makeup skills on his own was all about trial and error. What he could not learn on his own, he learned by enrolling in a few makeup classes. By the end of his freshman year, Wilson started to develop a reputation as a makeup artist on campus.
Wilson started to use his talent to benefit his peers. He was asked by a few friends on his color guard team in marching band to do their makeup. He saw this as an opportunity to practice his craft so he turned to his trusted brands Mac, Anastasia Beverly Hills, ColourPop and Glitter Injections to get his teammates performance-ready. His makeup sessions with friends slowly evolved into a small business where he is commissioned by parents to take care of their children’s makeup needs for homecoming and other events.
With all this talent and a possible business in the making, it would seem that Wilson is destined for makeup fame. But his dreams lie elsewhere. “I may become a makeup artist one day, but my main focus is to be an environmental scientist. If that fails, then a makeup artist sounds cool as a plan B.”
The discovery of a talent is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer, and Wilson has embraced his. Societal norms may sometimes get in the way, but Wilson has learned to overcome the barriers and break the norms. Rather than using makeup as a cover up, he uses it as a form of art to celebrate his own identity.