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We can all agree beauty is an art form — from intricate braids to the (multiple step) “no-makeup makeup” to nail art, there’s something very creative about what we do to make our bodies look the way we want. Our tools are works of art, too, which might explain why resellers can make hundreds of dollars on rare lipstick shades and polishes, just like an art collector with a rare print. That being said, there are artists who take “beauty as art” to literal — and monumental — heights, like May Sum.
Sum is a Hong Kong-based makeup artist who not only paints her models but creates amazing, delicate sculptures out of everyday lipsticks and beauty products. She’s created freakishly accurate likenesses of pop culture icons like GaGa, Madonna, and more. She’s done collaborations and museum exhibitions around the world using lipstick like clay, molding it as if she were a makeup Michelangelo. Her work has caught the eye of major companies, including Chanel, Disney, Shu Uemura, Shiseido, Clinique, and Dior.
Intrigued by her medium (how could we not be?), we sat down with Sum to chat about her work. Click through to hear how she came to be a lipstick sculptor, and see some of her past and present work. Three words for you guys: Lipstick. Anna. Wintour.