In the age of lip kits, contour and ever-thickening eyebrows, it seems that everyone wants to be a makeup mogul. Instagram and YouTube have made it so anyone can throw their looks or tutorials to the masses, gaining online prestige and setting the bar for upcoming trends. But succeeding in the makeup world is easier said than done.
Born and raised in Belgium, 24-year-old Naomi Waku is one such success story; a success story that has taken on the unconventional. As NamGlam on Instagram, Waku creates theatrical, transformative looks. She has made herself into an alien fortune teller, an avatar princess, a glam red devil and a wicked witch; all using makeup. In just over a year, Waku has amassed 52 thousand Instagram followers and has recently started posting tutorials to YouTube.
“Ever since I can remember I always loved fashion and beauty. In my teenage years, I came across beauty channels on Youtube and I instantly fell in love,” Waku wrote in an email interview with The Daily. “My dream was to one day have my own space where I could share my work with other makeup lovers like myself. Which is why I started my own makeup page on Instagram and the rest is history.”
Now that Waku has carved this space out for herself, she has found overwhelming support for her work.
“It’s great and overwhelming at the same time,” Waku wrote of her followers. “I feel very grateful to have so many people supporting me and giving me love. It really keeps me going.”
Waku does her best to keep in touch with her followers and foster a dynamic community, acting more as a confidant and peer than an untouchable expert.
“I couldn’t ask for better, my followers give me a lot of love and support which really motivates me to push myself more,” Waku wrote. “I love to interact with them through private messages, answering questions they have, give them advice, etc. It’s really important for me to create a strong and durable relationship with them.”
This strong community is due in part to Waku’s unique looks. Instead of opting for convention and the every-day, Waku’s looks are fantastical and otherworldly. Covering her face with colors and gems, Waku makes Halloween makeup glamorous. Her work is both beautiful and precise; creating these looks using makeup techniques such as contouring and shading, but ending up with something entirely other.
“I always feel the need to challenge myself when I do makeup,” Waku wrote. “I’m always looking to improve my craft. It’s a way for me step out of my comfort zone, learn new techniques and overall improve my skills and artistry.”
For Waku, makeup isn’t just about the end result; there is much to be said for the process.
“I’m quite a technical person. What I love about makeup is trying out new techniques or improving my own,” Waku wrote. “This way I never get bored because I never stop learning. I also love to play with colors, especially vibrant ones, it puts me in great mood especially on days where I don’t feel at my best.”
But Waku still enjoys appreciating the final result of her work, the culmination of all her research, planning and execution. She finds that intricate looks, in comparison to more ready-to-wear designs, are more gratifying.
“I love doing creative and intricate looks,” Waku wrote. “These kind of looks are the most time consuming however the end result are the best especially when you put in the time and effort it really makes the difference.”
Like many other artists, Waku turns to other forms of art for inspiration when planning her next project. She even has aspirations of taking on other artful ventures, namely music.
“I collect a lot of pictures that I use for inspiration,” Waku wrote. “Some are from a magazine, music video or other makeup artists that inspire me. It really depends on what I’m creating … I listen to a lot of music and I secretly would love to make some as well. This is definitely something I have in mind for the longest time.”
For Waku, her passions are first and foremost fueled by a need for self-expression. It is this unabashed representation of the self in combination with sheer talent that has garnered Waku such a following. She has taken makeup — something that is already inherently beautiful — and made it art.
“(Makeup) requires work, skills, time and effort,” Waku wrote. “But above all makeup represent a way to express myself in a artistic and creative way and this is everything to me.”