The Boy Who Does Make-Up

Published by: Sheryl Chua / Nanyang Technological University / Communication Studies | 29-Oct-2019
Make-up is often associated with women, but Nigel Phua challenges that stereotype and uses it as a platform where he can freely express himself by taking on different guises. (Published in 2018. Edited by: Dewey Sim, Photos by: Beverly Chew)
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Putting on make-up is how Nigel Phua copes with stress.

The 22-year-old picked up the art of make-up five years ago by accident - he had wanted to save money on his Halloween look and decided to paint a skeleton face to complement his costume.

These days, make-up has evolved into both a hobby and a side business for the second-year student from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.

During the Halloween season, Phua takes on jobs to help haunted house scare actors with their make-up. He also works on make-up for short film projects in various polytechnics and universities.

Make-up is an interest that Phua takes pride in; one that also allows him to freely express himself, he said. "It's a very therapeutic process. I like to take my time with it and witness the gradual transformation."

"I'll try to translate whatever pops into my mind onto my face. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but either way, I enjoy the process," he added.

Over the years, Phua has since taken on the guise of movie characters such as Detective Comics (DC) superhero Poison Ivy, and Jigsaw from the movie Saw.

Recently, he took his love for make-up one step further by participating in the 2018 Fine Artistry of Cosmetics Elites (FACE) Awards Contest organised by cosmetic brand NYX in March and was among the top six contestants. Phua was also the make-up artist for WKWSCI's theatre production, Paparazzi, this year.

For Phua, witnessing a thought come to fruition is the most rewarding part of putting on make-up.

"The ideas start out in my head, and how I translate them onto my face will usually turn out quite different from my initial idea," said Phua. "It's about seeing how your ideas develop once you actually start working on it."

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