Makeup artist and hairstylist, Risa Hoshino has been drawn to color since day one. Aside from testing out bold looks on her clients, she even flaunts her favorite vibrant colors on her own head of hair. Drawing a diverse perspective from her cultural background and traveling the world, Risa is determined to stay continuously inspired in order to create her best work. We talked with the Hawaii-native about how she hustled her way into working with top beauty professionals, as well as her favorite products to use for work. Check it out and more below!
Have you always had an interest in makeup and hairstyling? How did you get involved professionally?
Yes always! If you ever met me in real life you would be very surprised that such a dude-ish chick would be so into a feminine profession like beauty. I was always a tomboy but growing up I was constantly attracted to color. When my parents asked what I wanted for Christmas I asked for boxes of crayons, colorful Fimo clay, and all sorts of art supplies. I remember one birthday or Christmas, I got a caboodle filled with play makeup. From that day on I was inviting girls over and painting their faces. I was always super into having my friends be my canvas. Then, one of my first jobs was opening a Sephora in downtown Seattle. From there I was immersed in the world of makeup and soon I was on my own freelancing.
Do you feel that your Japanese background has had an influence on how you style clients?
Absolutely. One of my all time favorite makeup artists is Mr. Shu Uemura. When he applied makeup, every brush stroke had a meaning, a purpose. He never overdid anything. His work was always precise and sensible. His makeup application reminds me of the philosophy behind Japanese art. I feel that with a Japanese background, I notice that side of me coming out in my styling a lot. But don't get me wrong, I love glitter and color and fun hair, and making my girls or boys look sexy. Maybe that's where my Western influence come out.
Has traveling the world and experiencing different cultures helped change that?
Yes! I make time to travel the world, and travel to a new place at least once a year to get inspired. I call it my inspiration vacation. I feel that it is very important to visit a new place so you can enjoy the colors seen in nature, the urban decay, the people, the scents; about absolutely anything.
What was one of the first major jobs as a makeup artist or hairstylist that you booked?
It was my first short film I did with director/artist Julien Levy in Paris. It was my first job that I landed internationally. Julien and I have now worked on various projects together. We just worked on a short film called Rihanna Secret Show.
How was the experience for you?
It was my first job working internationally where I didn't understand any of the language and it was an all-French crew. This made me super nervous and intimidated. But after being on set, I learned that everyone was super helpful and it was a very enjoyable experience even with the language barrier. Having this experience under my belt at a very early stage in my career made me realize that anything is possible. I was no longer afraid to pack up my little kit and travel around the world for work.
“My best work comes from getting together with other creatives and making art just for the hell of it."
What are the most difficult and most rewarding parts about working with big-name fashion editorials?
Big-name fashion editorials can be at times limiting, for instance, you have to follow the rules. You can't just go all out crazy if you know what I mean. But, I have also learned to love that! It challenges me to do certain things that I wouldn't have done otherwise. If I could do hair and makeup the way I want to do it all of the time, I feel like it would get too easy. The reward? When you can see your work in print and have something you are super proud of. Seeing the finished product is so rewarding.
Where do you draw the most inspiration from when coming up with new makeup looks?
I travel to a new place at least once a year for inspiration. It keeps my mind fresh and new. I don't like to feel stagnant in my work so I try to keep moving. I also try to go to New York, Paris and Milan at least once a year during fashion week to assist top makeup artists in the industry. To see the most current fashion and what makeup and hair trends are being created backstage is so inspirational. I also love getting inspiration from movies and music from different eras.
What is a favorite time period or era for you when it comes to hair and makeup?
Oh man, it changes all the time. Last year I was fully feeling the 70's and all its glam. Thanks to David Bowie, RIP! He was so otherworldly, I can't thank him enough for spreading his glitz and beautiful music to us earthlings!
Favorite beauty brands to use on your clients and why.
I love using Armani for skin. Armani foundations always make skin look flawless. Bobbi or Laura Mercier for concealers because I like their color variety. For colors, I love Urban Decay. Ever since the 90's when they came out with their punk rocker, edgy colors like Acid Rain and Roach I was hooked. They have the most buttery texture to their shadows and still continue to create awesome products. I also just started using Milk Makeup and I love their creations! Their cosmetics have some technology that I haven't seen before. My favorite is their gel matte bronzer that melts into your skin and their Holographic Highlighting stick. It gives you this very alien-esque, dewy skin.
Tips for other aspiring makeup artists and hairstylists out there looking to hone in on their skills and expand their clientele?
Being an artist is always financially tough. The first five years you are gonna be eating instant ramen! But, I have the best recipes to spice up your ramen if any of you would like to sample.
Sounds cliche but don't give up. Keep working on your portfolio. My best work comes from getting together with other creatives and making art just for the hell of it.
What are three hidden gems in Tokyo?
1. Any drug stores: I buy all of their liquid liners and brow pencils. They're the best. Also, buy Japanese Bobby pins. The grip on them is so strong that I can't use anything else now!
2. Mitsuyoshi Makeup Center in Shinjuku: The best place in Tokyo to purchase theater makeup.
3. Muji: I'm sure everyone is like, "Duh this is so mainstream and we all know about Muji," but hear me out here! They have the best organizers for separating your beauty products, and for all you New Yorkers and Parisians that have your own Muji, it's way cheaper to buy in Japan!
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
A platform for total badass, independent, powerful women to network and learn about each other, and become inspirations for each other worldwide.
Who’s your MISSBISH? Tell us who she is and why she’s an inspiration to you.
Bliss Lau. She is a very successful jewelry designer and a professor at Parsons based out of New York City, originally from Hawaii. I met her in high school and from day one she was the definition of style and originality. We have reconnected in the last five years and we have traveled to Paris and Milan together during fashion week for work. As I got ready to work for shows, I saw how Bliss worked. She was answering emails while sketching her new collection and taking calls from clients. She was non-stop working. It was so inspiring to watch this brilliant woman at work.
Photographer: Melanie Tjoeng