Behind the Camera - Exploring Makeup Artistry

Audio/Visual Piece

It is a chilly Friday evening and the heater softly hums in the background. A bag half my height – full of make-up supplies, sits in the corner, and a collection of it is scattered over all the available furniture.

Sarina Dao, an upcoming make-up artist based in Canberra, apologises for the mess, and takes me out to the dining hall so we can talk over dinner.

She rubs a hand over her face, and apologises again, this time, for her exhaustion. Sarina hasn’t had any sort of time off in months. Her days are spent studying at the Canberra Makeup Academy, working with various clients, and at her job in Mecca Maxima, Canberra’s most prestigious make up store and make-up artistry service.

It’s why we’ve met up so late in the day, because, with her busy schedule, it’s the only time she’s free.

But, she tells me that it’s worth it. She’s a better artist than she was even a month ago, and she knows that the work she’s doing now, will allow her to later establish herself with a fully-fledged career, later.

Anna-Thanh Ebdon was one of Sarina’s first clients, which was over a year ago. She said that Sarina has always had a passion for make up, and it was part of the reason she chose Sarina to do her formal make-up.

“She’d practiced on me before so I knew what she could do and I knew I’d like it”, she said.

A week after my interview with Sarina, in the crisp early morning air of a hectic Saturday morning, I sat in on one of her jobs. I watched in awe as she – as part of a team of three, prepared an entire bridal party in just over two hours.

Their clients dining table was pushed up against a wall, and different make up stations were set upon it.

It was a well-oiled machine, one that I, admittedly, had been a bit sceptical of working when I heard what exactly the job entailed.

It is a far cry from Sarina’s early days, and it seems that now, these type of hectic yet organised jobs are her new norm.

Anna, who has been following Sarina’s career, said it wasn’t a surprise.

“She’s gotten really good at learning how to do makeup with people from all different background and skin types, not limiting her to the stuff she found easy,” she said.

This is the work Sarina was made to do, and she’s thrilled to have found her purpose.

“It’s the best job,” she tells me, as we wave the bridal party off to the wedding. “Like, it was so stressful, but look at them, it’s always so worth it.”