There's something about Mary (Me)


Hello world! It’s been such a long time since I wanted to start a blog (which may actually attract an audience)! I am Mary (I know how misleading it is for an authentic Chinese to use an English name, but please excuse me for getting confused constantly by how most non-Chinese speakers pronounce my real name Junyan. Someone even tried to call me Juan once), a researcher in plant molecular biology in Canberra, Australia. And oh yes, I am among those “evil” ones that Green activists fight with all the time. But relax; neither am I going to delve into the scientific circles that appear esoteric to the general public, nor to summon you the illogic behind the pandemic worries about GM food. I am here to blog about something common in everyone’s daily life that I am always passionate about, and hopefully it interests you too.

It may sound odd, but I am a scientist as well as being a makeup artist (I kinda enjoy the surprised look on peoples faces when they hear that). Maybe there isn’t much logical link between those two occupations, but I found the procedure of performing experiments is really not that alien to doing makeup, since they all require the fundamental elements of creativity, as well as precision and skills. The major differences of the two mostly reside in the purposes and outcomes. As much as I enjoy the challenging side of being a scientist, I have to admit that I suffer from constant frustration too: You never know whether the experiment will work; even it works, you can’t necessarily interpret it . The worst part is, working on a molecular level means 90% times, you don’t get to see what you are doing. Moreover, there is barely a moment that I can balance my creativity/imagination with reality in science (Just ask my supervisor how many wild, impractical experiments I would propose and get rejected annually). In stark contrast, doing makeup ultimately satisfies my needs of imagination and creation, and the results are always instantaneous.

People always ask me, how you started doing makeup. I just know I always love doing it. Ever since I played with my aunt’s makeup when I was four (She was always so willing and patient to let me doodle on her face), I wanted to be a makeup artist. Although I did exhibited some art talent at early childhood, the general Chinese society back then did not think highly of artists, especially for those are bound to serve people (Probably still hasn’t changed much nowadays). This concept rooted deeply in my parents and the schooling system; therefore my dream of pursuing a job in beauty/fashion was always discouraged (Have to admit, I was quite an obedient kid and lived in fear of disappointing my parents most of my life). But that didn’t keep me from drawing (mainly human faces), collecting fashion magazines, and dressing in a “bizarre” way that my classmates always made fun of. After I got into university, I was finally allowed owning and wearing makeup. I started doing makeup on lots of my female friends and relatives, and realized that I seem to have the born capability to make people look better; even I barely knew anything about colour, anatomy and makeup. I also felt so exhilarated when I made people feel beautiful, and not until now had I realized it fulfilled my human purpose of service more than most things I’ve done in my life.  However, I was under the pressure to hone skills that can guarantee me a “decent” job back then (hopefully a teacher, a doctor, or a scientist); makeup can at most serve me as a hobby. In the last decade, I worked my tail off toward my scientific career, and many life-changing things also happened, including moving to Australia to pursue my graduate degree, getting married and settling down. Life was hard and exhausting back then; and doing makeup became a remote dream that gradually ebbed away.

But things changed again about two year ago. My husband was always an enthusiastic photographer, and after winning a few photography completions with relative ease, he decided to become more serious about it. He started shooting with local models, which consequently made hiring makeup artist a must. I volunteered. I knew that I didn’t really have much time to idle (believe me, most scientists are competitive, hard-working nuts), but I desperately needed it to lift my life. My crazy, spiritual, and creative mind was trapped by the mundaneness of daily life. Once I started doing makeup on a regular basis, I never looked back. Doing makeup officially becomes an imprinted part of my life.  Words simply can’t describe the satisfaction and peace it brings me. I have to admit that it’s not an easy thing to pursue either, as I sacrificed most of all my spare time and money on it. But I believe it’s all worth the effort.  Today, I can’t say that I am 100% happy with all my work (I am barely satisfied with most things I’ve achieved anyway, being a perfectionist plus harsh self-critiquer), but I’ve progressed significantly compared to where I started. However, I am still learning and thriving to be a better artist every day.

Browsing through the Internet, starting a blog is probably the last thing that I should do with my limited life, risking becoming a dime a dozen.  But I think I have something unique to offer you. Other than self-marketing, I am here to talk about what I really love, to share with you my knowledge and life journey in a makeup aspect. I am not going to bombarded you with the consumerism-driven product information, but to show you and discuss simple things that can make life more beautiful. Behold, I won’t let you down.

Your friendly makeup aritist,

Mary xx

Mary Li makeup artist, Canberra, ACT, Australia