IMATS 2012: A Lesson in Touch by Kabuki

IMATS was quite the experience this year. I made a specific point to witness this year’s Keynote Speaker, Kabuki, in action.
Instead of a traditional makeup application or Q&A session, he opted to show  us how one of his ‘extreme glamour’ creations come to life. I found the entire experience quite enlightening.

The model came out ‘half’ done… he wanted to show us what we were in for. The application on her face is hand made. He put it together first by sketching it on paper, then in practical construction with tulle and crystals.

Instead of using typical products and brands – and making the novices worry that they MUST have such and such brand or brush in order to achieve the look (special shout out to all the folks who asked the painfully obvious questions)… he mixed and matched creams and powders from any brand in any manner… until he found the color/texture he was looking for.

I found Kabuki’s technique haphazard and precise all at once… there seemed to be no actual method until it all came together. I feel that he knew in his head what was going to happen, and he took us along for the ride. He didn’t stay specific to any textures (cream to cream/powder to powder), but instead moved them around  until they performed the way he wanted.

It’s worth noting that he worked on his knees… he even wore knee pads for the occasion. It’s a personal preference… Kabuki prefers to not only be very close to the face he’s working on, he says that if he looks ‘up’ at the models, he can get a precise idea of shape and color placement. He mentioned that some artists work looking ‘down’ at the model and inevitably screw up their lip application because the angles are all wrong.

It was easier to see some of the more precise color placement by taking pictures of the big screen… so I did that instead of photographing the stage. Even though I was in the third row, he was still pretty far away.

Once all the color was placed, he applied the application using Elmer’s glue (which I found completely wonderful and hilarious) because he says it’s the easiest to remove from the skin. To properly apply the application, he had the model lay flat. He says that was the best way to ensure symmetry.

After he put on the application, he finished with a deep black/burgundy lip color… some lip tar mix (again with the obvious questions… I imagine that even after 2 hours of imprecise precision… some folks still hadn’t gotten the memo that Kabuki is less about brands and more about color and texture) that he swirled together until he found the particular shade that he wanted.

All finished! He removed the model’s shiny cape to reveal a dress that he helped design. It was all very ’80’s and androgynous and beautiful in its boyish glamour.

I rather enjoyed the presentation. I found it to be educational in that in encourages artists to be ARTISTS… and see things through touch and texture. Kabuki appears quite reserved and pleasant and focused. His method is internal… and I think that’s what I appreciated most about the lesson. I really like his approach to artistry and makeup in general… definitely glad I took the time to see him in action.