Hi everyone,

Remember I told you about my visit at the Shu Uemura counter? To fill in the basics, Shu Uemura just opened their first counter in Vietnam and as a part of this event, Atsushi Kokawa flew in from Japan to train the makeup artists who works for Shu Uemura from the entire country. I was lucky to have an opportunity to interview him for an article at Elle.vn website.


I checked last Friday and they posted the article already on their website. You can go there and read it (and use Google Translate just in case you don't understand Vietnamese.)
I love this brush canister!
Shu Uemura is a company built by the makeup giant Mr. Uemura himself. Although he already passed away, there are still many of his extremely talented students around to guide and teach new waves of makeup artists. Atsushi Kokawa is one of them. Currently, he is one of the six trainers who go around Japan and the rest of the world to train makeup artists who are working for Shu Uemura. He was trained for a week every year for 5 years by Mr. Uemura himself before being released into the world. If you go to his website, you'll see his credits in films, commercial and editorial beauty shots, as well as fashion.

Atsushi Kokawa at work
After the interview.
(L-R): Shu Uemura VN brand manager, Elle beauty editor, moi, Atsushi Kokawa, the translator, head makeup artist of Shu Uemura HCM City
(and btw, I used the TOJI sunscreen as a makeup base and look how Snow White I was!)
Before I say anything more, here are the two things I need to get out of my mind:

1. Mr. Kokawa looks better in real life. He's very tall and good looking. The pictures I took as well as his head shot on his website don't do him justice. Also, his skin is amazing!

2. He is uber talented! I have watched makeup artists work before and one of my cousins is a makeup artist but all of them could not compare to him. The whole time I was watching him, my mouth was hanging open. It was not even makeup artistry anymore. It was makeup magic and he is a magician!

OK, now moving on to the things I actually learned from him:

1. He is meticulous:


Remember the brush canister? Well, he has this system for them: one for clean brushes and one for dirty brushes. I have seen makeup artists at work before and many of them just kinda throw their brushes around. This guy, however, came up with a system that works very well.

2. He has so many brushes and his brushes are not like yours:

First of all, remember that white brush in the canister? You think it's a blush brush of some sort, right?

Eh, wrong! It is a foundation brush!

I was shocked to see him using it on the model. As a brush whore, I know the kind of brushes I'm supposed to use for foundation and to see what looks like a giant Ann's Mini Mop used as a foundation brush is a novelty to me.

On top of that, look at all these eye brushes he has in his kit:


Mr. Kokawa told me he usually carries around 15-20 brushes for a gig. This looks like a whole lot more than that and at first, I thought they were made of taklon.

But eh again! These are handmade kolinsky and kolinsky sable bend brushes all from Shu Uemura! My mouth flew straight to the floor! I mean, can you imagine how much all of his brushes cost?

On top of that, his brushes are interesting: I did not find a dual-fiber brush in his kit. I could not find anything that resembles MAC 217 at all. Except for a few face brushes that are round, the rest are really flat.

And small. Teeny tiny brushes for eyes and lips.


Look at the brush that has pink paint on it. You think it's an eyeliner brush? Think again! It's a lip brush that looks like something I would use to tight line my lash line.

I'm telling you, the whole experience was very freaky to me! It's like the whole time what I know about makeup and brushes are wrong and there is another way to do makeup that we don't even know about.


You notice the eyebrow pencil on the right? Well, compare that to the second brush on it's left, which is an eyeliner brush. It is really small!

3. The way he holds his brushes and eye pencils:



The way we hold our brushes and pencils are similar to the way we hold our pens: we grab them. But his way is the way people use to hold their calligraphy brushes. It has less pressure and the model told me she did not feel anything the whole time he did her makeup. It's a part of the Shu Uemura way of makeup artistry: to provide comfort for the model.

Also, I noticed since he held his brush that way, his movements were very precise. He applied eye and lip makeup and there was hardly a fall out or even a stray line. I had an opportunity to look at his portfolio and I noticed how clean the smokey eyes were. This has a lot to do with the way he holds his brushes as well as their sizes.

4. Blush is not the product of one color:


This is one of the photos I took of the model. It was not the final look but already, he used a wide array of blushes on her. I lost count at 5 but basically, he used a very light pink blush to highlight right underneath her eyes to the top of her cheek bone. Then, he used a pink, then orange, then brown, then red, then really dark brown on her cheeks to bring out the natural color of her blush. The blush brush he used was very small and it's actually the black brush at the front of the canister on the right.



The model worked it!
Look at how glowy and natural looking her cheeks are!
The model did her thing and they stopped after 5-6 frames. Mr. Kokawa looked at her, then adjusted the blush accordingly. In the end, she looked really amazing and I could hardly recognized her at all. What I saw was a much, much more confident and sexy woman.

5. He did the eyeliners twice:


Mr. Kokawa wanted to do a sexy, confident makeup look. The first time he did the eyeliner, he used a tiny brush (the one he held on the left) to tight line her upper and lower lash line using gel liner. Since the brush was small, the line was also very clean.


Then, he went over with the liquid pen liner. The line is not thicker than the previous one he did. However, it was lightly winged out. His eye lining technique is extremely meticulous and it produced the crispest line I've ever seen. He did not even fix anything with a Q-tip at all! Applied and done!

I can go on and on talking about how great a makeup magician Atsushi Kokawa is but it would probably take me another day and another night to write! I have no words to say but "wonderful" when it comes to describe him and his makeup artistry. At one point during this experience, I came to a place where I just wanted to quit my science career and learn makeup from him.

Last but not least, a few pictures I took of the people at Shu Uemura:

I love this picture as it shows team work between the makeup artist, the model, and the hair designer (who is actually the head makeup artist at Shu Uemura Sai Gon!)
"I need to concentrate, people! I need to concentrate!"
Btw, he did the model's hair really well!
He's also very funny!
Glad to get to know you!
(L-R): the translator, Atsushi with his peace sign, Shu Uemura counter manager
I had a fantastic time at the Shu Uemura counter. Now that I have witnessed greatness, it is hard to go back and watch YouTube videos. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity. Thank you, Atsushi Kokawa for showing me your passion for makeup artistry, Shu Uemura Vietnam and ELLE magazine for this opportunity.

I am so happy!

Love,
Dao xoxo

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