As shallow as some may perceive it to be, looking flawless in front of cameras and in the public eye is a huge part of a celebrity’s job. That’s why there’s always a group of creatives behind every appearance in charge of sprucing up their image. One of the team players at work is the makeup artist, a role that Ting Duque has enduringly held with pride and experience for more than two decades now.
From the industry’s finest such as Bea Alonzo and Jennylyn Mercado to on-the-rise faces like Sofia Andres and Bianca Umali, Ting’s list of loyal clients is as star-studded as it can get. But her defining quality is not about the names in her roster, but the longevity she has achieved in the industry brought forth of course by her impressive artistry and competent work ethics.
Penetrating the sphere of fashion and celebrities back in the ‘90s, Ting knows the core of having a withstanding career. “I am privileged that even after more than 20 years, I’m still a working artist.” She confides, “To be in this industry, it’s not how famous you get but how long you will last. It all comes down to having a professional attitude.” Her top tip? Simple: “Don’t be late.”
Here, we talk more about her early days in the business, the importance of collaborating, and what keeps her feeling young and inspired.
How did you get started in the business of makeup?
I started my makeup career with Clinique. I was a sales associate first then became one of their makeup artists. We were called the White Lighting team back in the late ‘80s through the early ‘90s.
Can you recall the first time you ever used makeup?
The first time I used full on makeup was during my ballet recital when I was maybe 7 years old. I think I’ve used lipsticks earlier because it was the easiest to grab from my mom’s vanity table – to much of her horror I assume!
When and how did you realize that you want to make it into a career?
Back when I was in the States working in cosmetics, it was just really a job. It was only when I moved back to the Philippines in the mid ‘90s that I considered becoming a makeup artist. Back then, there weren’t a whole lot of female makeup artists. I wanted to be the one to penetrate the fashion industry.
Did you have any formal training? How important is it to study makeup?
I went to Cosmetic Techniques in San Francisco. There I studied the technical stuff like lights, breakdown of formulas, colors, etc. It did help me a lot and removed a lot of the guess work when working with different mediums and skin tones.
What is the power of makeup?
For me, the power of makeup is taking what we perceive as ordinary and making it extraordinary.
Who was your first celebrity client?
Isabella Rossellini. Back then, I was with Lancôme in New York. I did her makeup for an event she was going to. She was Lancôme’s face at that time. She was very gracious to me which to this day I will never forget.
What do you keep in mind when creating an evening look?
For a night out, I always want the look to be fresh and modern. To me, too much makeup application can be aging.
What’s your #1 tip for a fresh, natural look?
It’s the walang kamatayang “less is more.” In my experience, the more you apply, the faster one ages.
What’s the biggest mistake you see most women do when applying makeup?
Nowadays, women are more knowledgeable than they were during my time when it comes to fashion, makeup, and hair. So I’m super happy about that! If there is probably something to improve on, I’d say it’s just the color choices.
What do you do when you’re working with a client for the first time?
Whenever I am with a client for the first time, I try to get information so I’ll get a feel of what her style is. The “no makeup makeup look” has become subjective. So asking questions other than how much coverage she/he wants maps out your intentions and prevent mistakes. If there is a misunderstanding, then you just simply apologize and repeat.
What’s your process like when you’re collaborating with a creative team?
In advertising or editorials, I get ideas from the art directors, directors, photographers, models, stylists, and hair stylists. It’s a collaborative effort so I really have to work on being a good team player. Everyone has to keep the goal in mind and that’s to create something spectacular. Most of the time, it’s not a one-man show.
Who is your biggest influence?
My biggest influence has got to be the junior artists right now. As much as I inspire them to be the best, they inspire me to better than I am. I especially enjoy looking at certain artists’ perspectives. It’s so refreshing. It keeps my eyes young!
What’s your take on the negative connotations that makeup is deceitful?
Makeup is not the culprit of deceit. It’s the heart.
What is the hardest part of your job?
In advertising, maybe it’s the extra long hours. Other than that, I love my job!
How does social media play a part in your work?
People get to see my work definitely faster in social media. I stay relevant through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
What do you look for when hiring an assistant?
A sense of urgency, passion, smarts, and a kind heart.
What’s your current favorite trend?
It’s funny because I’m back where I started which is the no makeup makeup look. It was what the ‘90s was all about. Today, it’s borrows that idea with a twist of making it your own. I love it!
What’s your advice for someone who wants to be a makeup artist?
If you’re interested in becoming a good artist, listen and observe. Don’t let fame be your guiding light. Try not to be in a hurry. With experience and knowledge, you will get there. Respect the art and always be punctual.
What can you say to women who are just discovering the power of makeup?
To the women who are now loving makeup: It’s a great time to be alive!