By Margarita Hirapetian
Naomi Liu’s work is simply masterful. Looking at some of her creations, you can’t help but gape in wonder and awe at the sheer talent on display. Her attention to detail is superb, and allows her to dream up looks that are both enchanting and riveting. Like we said, you can’t help but gaze in fascination and reverence at her handiwork. This is because Naomi not only gives her models a head-to-toe body paint, but also adorns their bodies with crystals, adds towering headpieces, designs accessories and outfits, all to beautifully bring a look to life. Never mind being a triple threat, Naomi is a quadruple, even quintuple, threat with all the talent that she brings to the table.
A supremely gifted makeup artist, hairdresser, and stylist, Naomi started her career as a hairdresser in Taipei, Taiwan. After 10 years of working at a salon, she decided to start her own hair studio. Consequently, owning her own studio gave her plenty of freedom to pursue her myriad other interests. She explains, “Because I always wanted to move into the professional makeup field, I began to study cosmetics at Hua Hsia Technical College. At the same time, I also acquired several beauty-related licenses in hairdressing, make-up, painting, aromatherapy, nails...etc. With [these] additional skill sets, I expanded my studio hairdressing/makeup services to bridal, fashion show, stage play, event, and advertising.” In fact, Naomi has extensive experience in commercial, event, wedding makeup and hairdressing, in addition to special effect makeup for various media, film, and events.
Seven years of owning her studio ultimately led Naomi down a different path, as she wanted to expand her skills even further. As she puts it, she “needed a breakthrough.” So she applied to the New Image School in Vancouver and subsequently moved to Canada. After receiving her special effects makeup certification, she worked in Vancouver for a couple of years as she also started to put together some personal special effect makeup projects. Now, based in New York as of four years ago, Naomi looks to continue learning new techniques and adding more artistic creations to her portfolio. With an already impressive portfolio that is surely the envy of many, there’s no doubt she will succeed in this endeavor. It’s exciting to think of what she’ll come up with next!
Naomi’s work is fanciful and truly unique. Her inspiration draws from different cultural experiences. She says, “I'm an Aborigine from Taiwan. Since the early days of my career, I'm constantly being inspired by the contrast between traditional and aboriginal Taiwanese cultures. After I moved here to North America, I'm also constantly being influenced by Western sensibilities as well. In my recent RAW show, there was a diamond-themed full-body style for one of my models. Diamonds actually symbolize our Aboriginal ancestral eye. It’s a conglomeration of traditional and avant-garde patterns and motifs.” It may seem like she never runs out of ideas, but she is candid about sometimes dealing with creative blocks: “When [a creative block] happens, I often stay late and tirelessly experiment with different solutions. But the challenge itself is what makes the whole process fun and rewarding. I get to push myself and constantly expand my personal boundary.” Another challenge is of a more practical nature, as she explains, “Besides ideas, sometimes material availability and budget constraint can be a challenge as well. At the end of the day, it's the balance to both that makes the project.”
A tireless worker, Naomi often finds herself putting in many hours to create a look that is to her exacting standards. She says, “Every time I start a new project, I always challenge myself to create something new and different instead of recycling old materials. That's why I usually spend more hours than I initially anticipated. But the results are always rewarding.” The results are obviously rewarding to her, but also rewarding to any spectator lucky enough to catch a glimpse! As she contemplates the future, Naomi seems pleased with the path she is currently on, though naturally she hopes to push herself to do more, creating more “influential works,” in addition to passing the torch to younger designers.
If you are a younger designer and happen to follow Naomi, she has this advice for you: “You can't give up your dreams, you must stick to it. You can't stop learning, and learn from mistakes. When you are out of ideas, imitate, then reinvent.” Perhaps one of the reasons Naomi has been so successful is simply because she truly loves what she does and receives much joy from her work. This is probably something other artists can identify with, because getting to create is especially satisfying and worthwhile, regardless of what medium an artist is working with. For Naomi, the best part of her job is “to get to be creative on things that I love. And in the process make people happy and surprised.”