Updated: Nov 18, 2021
Since May 2019, Milo Lee-Philp — a 16-year-old makeup artist based out of Vancouver, Canada — has been posting eclectic, sometimes outlandish, self-portraits on Instagram. Milo’s looks combine makeup, handmade costumes, and digitally produced settings and reference everything from old Hollywood glamour to Teletubbies.
During this time, Milo has developed and honed his artistic style while building a community of like-minded artists. They work towards breaking traditional beauty standards through their artistry.
ON DISCOVERING HIS PASSION FOR MAKEUP
What introduced you to makeup? When I was 11, I discovered Rupaul’s Drag Race. The way one of the contestants on the show — Kim Chi — used makeup to transform themselves made me realize that cosmetics could be used for more than creating traditional beauty looks. From there, I dove right in.
How did you know it was your passion? Through social media, I have made connections with other artists who work in similar ways but with very different styles and techniques. Getting to know them and their work motivated me to push my ideas further. In fact, it continues to do so. I knew makeup was my passion when I was as excited to see what looks others would come up with next as I was about creating my looks.
What does being a MUA mean to you? For me, makeup is a medium I use to convey ideas or emotions through a physical transformation, plus it is a lot of fun to come up with new looks. Along with makeup, I can bring together multiple mediums. For example, I can take two-dimensional art and bring it into the third dimension by integrating it into a look.
ON HIS CREATIVE STYLE
How do you define beauty? Beauty is undefinable; it is subjective and ever-evolving. That being said, for me, looks that are thoughtful and over-the-top are what I find most exciting.
How would you describe your work? In a nutshell, I would describe my work as campy, artsy, and glamorous.
Do you have any signature styles or techniques? I love reworking or adding on to existing things, such as thrifted garments or jewelry. In the same vein are my handmade paper lashes which have become one of my signature techniques. I cut black paper into spikes to add to existing false lashes. I cut, curl, and layer them until I am happy with the finished product. I find they add drama and depth to a look.
You serve a lot of looks on your Instagram. Which has been your favorite thus far and which took the most time to create?
So far, my favorite Instagram look that I have created uses a spotlight to illuminate only one side of my face making it the focal point. I like the simplicity of the final result, plus I love a bottom lash.
The piece that took the longest to create was a floral alien character. Along with the makeup look I also created an environment around myself that the creature inhabited. From makeup, setting, photography, and digital work...I’d say, all in all, this look took four hours.
What is one creative look you'd like to do but haven't? I haven't had the chance yet, but I would like to turn myself into a giant daisy flower. I envision my face as the middle of the flower with huge petals framing my face and a long fitted green dress with huge leaves for the arms. Sadly don’t have the time or resources to execute it yet... but I’m working on it.
If you had to create a complete look using only three products, what would they be? Black liquid eyeliner, a colorful eyeshadow palette, and white setting powder. I’d be lost without these.
ON COLLABORATING WITH OTHER MUAS
Collaborations are essential in the creative world. If you could work with anyone in the industry who would it be and why? I would love to work with Sasha Velour; she often spotlights lesser-known artists. I feel like Sasha supports the future of drag while also being the future of drag. Her concepts and productions are so stunning and thoughtful with amazing attention to detail. I’d watch her shows again and again. Another dream collaborator for me is Lady Gaga. She pushes the boundaries on the way pop beauty is defined. This and her openness to new ideas are very appealing to me.
Have you already done any collaborations? My friend Hank (@sincerely_hank) and I often collaborate on looks and projects together. We co-founded an online competition that revolves around makeup, drag, and beauty skills. It is called HALO Competition (@halo__competition) and we are about to start season three. Hank and I are the host and judges, and we often invite peers from our community to join us as guest judges for an episode.
Do you have a favorite one? I am really happy with the collaboration between myself, Hank, and the Halo winners from seasons 1 and 2 — Mats (@monarchmats) and Ryan Roachie (@ryanroachie), respectively. The final image features Mats crowning the new winner Ryan while Hank and I are on either side of them. We all live in different cities so we did our looks individually. They all sent a photo of their stunning look to me and I put the final image together digitally.
What's your favorite part of collaborating? I love bouncing ideas back and forth with other creatives. It’s fun to see their perspectives on things and to learn new techniques from one another. It is what the community is all about: working together and supporting one another.
ON ADVICE FOR ASPIRING MUAS
What advice would you give someone just starting out as a MUA? Practice. Practice. Practice. Bonus tip: look for inspiration outside of the makeup world. For example, try watching an artsy movie, watch videos on music or painting, or talk to other artists about their creative process. Inspiration can be found in so many places.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
Other than from myself *wink*, I find a lot of my makeup inspiration on Insta. A few of my favs are Hungry (@isshehungry), Julian Stoller (@julianwolfstoller), and Juno Birch (@junobirch). Hungry's ideas and concepts and so complex, fantastical, and stunning to look at; Julian always pays so much attention to detail and every look is so clean; and Juno's looks are always fun and put a smile on my face.
What should be in a MUA starter kit? The best MUA starter kit includes a colorful eyeshadow palette, a good base (foundation), and definitely a sharp black liner.
ON THE FUTURE
What changes would you like to see in the MUA industry? It would be a dream for the repetition to end... no more boring looks! I would like people to be more open to what is beautiful and/or "normal". So many people are so fixated on what they think they should look like and are not open to ideas that are not trendy or considered "normal".
Where do you see yourself in five years? I, like many young creatives, have my eyes set on a larger city... New York, in particular. I have been a couple of times and the energy there is amazing. In five years, I would love to be in a big metropolis working on projects such as films, photoshoots, or fashion projects with other creatives.