Freshly Inked Interview with Mimi Choi

When did you first start doing makeup? Did you take any classes or self-taught?
I’ve always enjoyed doing makeup ever since I could remember. After receiving the support of my family I switched my career at the age of 28 to pursue my passion in makeup. I enrolled at Blanche Macdonald, which is a local beauty and makeup school here in Vancouver, Canada; which is when I attempted my first illusion look for Halloween.

True or were previously a preschool teacher?
True! I studied as an early childhood educator after graduating from university and have taught children at Montessori for several years before I made the switch to becoming a makeup artist.

How did you decide to go from that to what you do now?
While I love children and have a passion for teaching, I was feeling a bit suppressed particularly as an intrinsically creative person.  I would have to act and dress a certain way around the children during the day, but in the evenings, I found that I would paint nail art on myself as a release.  It was only after having a discussion with my mother one night that I decided to pursue my passion in makeup.  She asked me if I was feeling fulfilled as a preschool teacher and if I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life.  She also gave me full support to attempt something new and the validation that I received from her was important for me to apply to makeup school.

What's the most time spent on one of your looks?
My looks generally take between 2 to 5 hours to complete but I have spent up to 9 hours on my most intricate looks which include the “Shelf Face” and “Wood Carved Face” looks that I did last year.
What inspired you to start doing workshops/ master classes?
At my first IMATS (International Makeup-Artist Trade Show) I really admired the makeup professionals on stage that were teaching other makeup professionals. These instructors were the best of the trade and it became a goal of mine to one day teach on the main stage at IMATS.  A few years later I was invited to teach on that same stage and it was an amazing feeling to be recognized as a leader in the industry. 

In my previous career, I was an early childhood educator and had a real passion for teaching.  After graduating from Blanche Macdonald, I was invited to be an instructor and I really enjoyed the intimate and hands-on interaction with the students.  Watching them grow as artists was a very rewarding feeling for me so the opportunity to teach small classes, lead workshops, and interact with my followers from around the world brings me a lot of joy.
What opportunities have opened up for you since getting into the cosmetic industry?
In addition to leading masterclasses and teaching workshops for beauty brands and makeup schools, I’ve had the opportunity to partner with other companies, magazines and artists to create.  I’ve worked on campaigns for UNICEF, Samsung, Food Network and Warner Brothers to name a few because my work is versatile. I feel so fortunate that I am given creative freedom to do what I do best and to learn/collaborate with so many talented artists.

What's something you absolutely need with you when you're creating a new look?
Besides the makeup that I use, one thing that I cannot create without is my iPhone, as a lot of my illusions are angle dependent. I use my phone to ensure that everything I paint lines up to achieve the most impactful look.
Who are some inspirational people to you?
Some of the most inspirational people to me are surreal and illusionary artists; these include Salvador Dali, Maurits Cornelis Escher, Giuseppe Arcimboldo and Miles Johnston.

How does it feel to inspire others?
It is such a great feeling to inspire makeup artists around the world.  My makeup has brought me so much joy and to be able to share that feeling with others is so rewarding. I know how important my inspirations were to me, so the fact that I can offer that same thing to others is really empowering.
Check out the full interview with Mimi in the next Freshly Inked Magazine! Until then stop by her Instagram by clicking here!

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