Vareons’ Avant Garde, Digital Superstar Makeup Looks
Vareons is many things. Avant garde makeup artist, musical talent (new single, Gameboy feat. Gameboi, is out now), photographer, avid social media user. He sums it up in two words on their Facebook bio: Digital Superstar.
An artist like Vareons was made for the digital age, where the confluence of art forms, social media channels, and identities shape everyday conversation on the internet. But make no mistake – Vareons is grounded in traditional makeup artistry techniques, even if the looks he creates on YouTube and Instagram are surreal and otherworldly.
Vareons is also out on a mission – to bring unconventional beauty standards to the fore. Here’s what you need to know about this rising MUA.
Underneath the makeup
Vareons, real name Brandon Olivarez, is a Texas native who briefly attended Temple University in Japan, the oldest foreign university in the East Asian nation, before dropping out to pursue a career in makeup full time.
In one Instagram post, he pays homage to Japan’s ganguro subculture with bronzer, heavy eyeliner, falsies, a platinum wig, and long acrylic nails commonly associated with the movement. And it makes sense in the context of Vareon’s artistry – the ganguro style was a rebellion against traditional Japanese feminine standards of pale skin, minimal makeup, and demureness.
Their nightscape photos of Japan are no less colorful, with neon-lit images of Tokyo Tower and Shibuya’s alleys searing the mind.
Vareons also made a splash in South Korea – one of the biggest markets for beauty and cosmetics in Asia – when his makeup look and self-portrait, “Anxiety“, was put on display and used as the poster image for the “Portrait 2018” exhibit at the CICA Museum in January 2018.
Outside of makeup, music, and photography, the young MUA also has a passion for streetwear and drag culture.
A MUA’s uncompromising vision
Vareons describes his makeup looks as not glam, but not full-on SFX makeup either. His work occupies a liminal space, one where beauty, anti-beauty, fantasy, and makeup artistry techniques converge.
When it comes to Vareons' portfolio, anything goes. One makeup look, called “Stress”, calls to mind the graffiti and neo-expressionist works of New York artist Jean Michel-Basquiat, while another creation, “Lies”, is reminiscent of a watercolor painting one might find in a contemporary art gallery.
But if there’s any makeup look that best embodies their vision, it would be “Activated”, which the MUA aptly describes as a “neon kawaii club-kid alien that screams Vareons” – think Japanese pop idol gone wild.
The look makes generous use of neon greens, blues, pinks, and purples, and draws heavily from drag and kawaii culture. Vareons creates it skillfully with moisturizer, glow-in-the-dark face paint, wallet-friendly drugstore makeup, a green wig, DIY hair clips, sclera lenses, and lots of blending.
His makeup tutorials are to the point, with very little in the way of personal anecdotes, flourishes, sass, and manufactured feuds that many YouTubers rely on for views.
Instead, Vareons’ makeup tutorials are set against high energy music by artists like Sri Lankan-born rapper M.I.A., Canada-based talent VBND, and EDM artist Eccentric – tracks that wouldn’t be out of place in a rave.
Vareons’ videos are not as trend-conscious either. Instead of name dropping the latest makeup brands, Vareons sticks with affordable, tried-and-tested products that get the job done.
The drama comes solely from the looks he create. Aside from the drag alien awakening of “Activated”, Vareons plays on our fantasies with looks like “Frankenstein”, which speaks to humanity’s enduring love for Gothic horror, “Heatwave”, which puts the MUA under the gaze of thermal imaging, and “Falling Apart”, a nod to the surrealist makeup artistry techniques that are making waves on Instagram and the runway. These creations challenge our notion of what is beautiful and exciting.