Art, Activism and Makeup: Interview with Eszter Magyar from @makeupbrutalism

At a time when the view of makeup and its use to deliver a different message is finally changing, the artist and activist Eszter Magyar from @makeupbrutalism, starter of the #uglymakeuprevolution movement, kindly shares her vision and opinions in this interview:

@makeupbrutalism #uglymakeuprevolution

1. What was the first impression that makeup caused you in your life? 

My mom had a little box, it was some kind of a palette with eyeshadows, lipsticks, glitters etc. but because she was not using makeup, it was more like a toy for me. I remember it had a deep red colour and the word ‘Beautiful’ was written on it.

2. When you started to show interest in makeup, what was the reaction of people surrounding you?

After I started makeup school. People always knew that I was more of an art and fashion person, so it was not a surprise for anyone.

3. Did you already had an artistic conception of makeup when you started your career in it or did it developed with time?

Not at all.  First techniques were exciting enough to catch my attention. So I would say it developed with time definitely.

4. How were the learning experiences you had while studying makeup? Was there ever an artistic approach?

My first school was a great experience. I had a great teacher, who had and has a really elegant, soft style, which I learned from her – but she always said to me, there is so much more and  different things in me and that if I dug deep enough, I would find myself. She was totally supportive. By that time I had no clue what she was talking about honestly.

@makeupbrutalism #uglymakeuprevolution

5. Is there much creative activity going on in your country/area? And what about specifically creative makeup activity? Was it like this when you were growing up?

Not really, the taste in general is a bit old fashioned in the country where I come from. Even the newer things are more like a copy of the “western” trends. There is not too much room for weirdos or thinkers, that’s why all the talented artists who had the opportunity are living abroad. Sad, But if you want to get out of your comfort zone, you have to move. That’s why I myself moved to Berlin and why I visit London pretty often, so now it’s a bit different for me.

6. What is your vision on the current relationship between beauty standard, the beauty industry and social media?

I think people are not engaged in their own choices and opinions anymore, simply because its not theirs, they just got it ready from social media.

7. When did you start your activism in makeup and how? What made you start?

I don’t know, I just started to experiment on myself.  I was bored by regular makeup solutions. I felt like it was not enough for me. I mean, honestly I wanted to feel like I was making something relevant and important and eyeliners and smokey eyes made didn’t make me feel satisfied. I asked myself: ‘Is that everything?’ Makeup is only a tool to make beauty even more perfect? What is perfection anyways? What is beauty? And I started to ask questions.

@makeupbrutalism #uglymakeuprevolution

8. Why do you think the public is starting to show interest in ‘different’ styles of makeup?

People are never satisfied with anything, it’s a natural habit to create movements and movements against movements. So I guess this is how we, humankind, work. We love to have choices.

9. How much do you think it is because people are actually interested in understanding it as an art and being more open minded?

I think we should be more respectful with the term art. In a world that is so obsessed with beauty, youth and perfection, seeing something different its like a breath of fresh air.

10. How much do you think it is because being ‘different’ has become another trendy aesthetic?

Oh, probably it helps a lot.

11. What do you think of brands that are generally promoting these high standards of beauty and level of commitment to an image sponsoring these type of artists/accounts?

They need the reach, people need the “tools”. It’s pure business.

@makeuprevolution #uglymakeuprevolution

12. How much are they doing it just for exposure in your opinion?

I guess they just see the numbers, but I don’t know. I’m sponsored by one of these brands too, I don’t think that they’re doing it because of my content (since I barely use makeup).

13. Do you think the media is concealing the expansion of this obligation and commitment to an image as ’empowering’, ‘freeing’, ‘pushing the limits’ and ‘breaking the rules’?

Of course, it’s business. But honestly I think it’s good for everyone (to be able to see different kind of approaches, tastes, etc.)

14. In your opinion, are they really making beauty industry more inclusive these days, or just more profitable by welcoming men into their standards?

It’s business. Its money.

15. What kind of role do you see makeup activism playing in all this?

We help them, wanted or unwanted, to showcase all this in a different way. We are part of the lie probably, because they can lean on us, even if they have a different aim.

16. Where do you see the #uglymakeuprevolution movement going? Do you fear it becoming just another ‘trendy’ hashtag to use? Do you think that makeup, or art in general, has to be ugly to be taken seriously? Is ‘pretty’ too mainstream and compliant right now to be exploitable as an appropriate aesthetic for art that delivers a message?

Some people are using it already just as a hashtag which can lead them to be shared on the page, to get more followers. I can totally see that. When I started the hashtag, it was a joke, nothing serious, but after that I realized that there are people who think the same way: makeup should not be only the tool of social pressure to be perfect. It can be playful, it can be creative, it can be anything. So I just let it go its own way, #uglymakeuprevolution is for everyone, so we shape it together.

@makeupbrutalism #uglymakeuprevolution

17. What is the next step in your activism? What do you think of the idea of it turning into a collaborating artists movement such as Fluxus? Did you ever consider that?

I have lot of plans . I want to do researches, write a book,  do workshops, play together, document that, then exhibit that, it’s like a never ending cycle.

18. Have you ever considered that it will develop into a kind of performatic art? Which other arts does your creativity tend to explore?

There is definitely the chance it will happen occasionally. I love to experiment with every kind of art form, it depends on my mood. But mostly I love to write .

@makeupbrutalism #uglymakeuprevolution

19. Can you name a few works of art that never cease to inspire your? What do you see in these artworks? (It can be music, paintings, books, movies, any kind of art).

Mostly writers. If I need a little creative boost, I listen to Tibetan bowl sounds. It helps me to get on the same page with myself I guess. Even with writing, even with makeup. But I’m in Love with architecture as well: Brutalism, Modernism, Frank Lloyd Wright and Lautner, and the list goes on and on.

20. What would you say to the artists out there trying to make a statement and deliver a message through makeup?

If you know what to say, just say it. If you don’t, just don’t. Take your time to explore yourself, to find your own inner voice and authentic message.

@makeupbrutalism #uglymakeuprevolution

All images belong to the artist and were taken with permission from her Instagram page @makeupbrutalism.
You can also find Eszter Magyar in Instagram at @esztermagyarmua and in