History shows that cosmetics have been popular since the ancient times. Egyptian men and women were known to use eyeliners and dark colored eye shadows. Kohl was believed to protect the eye by the ancient Egyptians and Castor oil was used as a protective balm.
Today, modern makeup has taken over our trendy world. Yafet Ghirmai, is one of the famous makeup artists in Eritrea. He is one of the few young people who have excelled and managed to become famous for their works. Having understood the value of work ethics, before becoming the makeup artist he is today, he started working as a henna tattoo artist at just 13 years of age. Today, he is the most sought-after artist by brides for the wedding and after wedding occasions.
Q&A, presents Yafet Ghirmai, a 22 year old, henna tattoo designer and makeup artist.
- -The beginning of the henna tattoo designer…
I was more in to painting at the beginning. Henna tattoo designing is something that I picked up along the way. If I hadn’t become the artist I am today, I am sure I would have become a painter. So, one day, I saw someone do the henna tattoo and I was very attentive to what and how she was doing it. I went home and did exactly what I saw on my aunty. The designs came out marvelous which surprised me and my family. When I think about it now, doing the henna designs was easier for me since I was good at drawing. Afterwards, I started to do henna designs for my family and neighbors. I officially started to charge for my work by the time I was 13 years old. My first customer called out for me after she had met someone I did the designs for. Funny thing, she was shocked to find out I was just a little boy. Even though I told her that I could do well, she wasn’t going to let me draw on her until I painted for her on a piece of paper. She is one of my loyal customers until today.
- -Considering the job is mostly done by female artists, how did your family react at first?
They really were supportive. They were proud that I had the willingness of working at such a young age. Also, since I was in to art from the beginning, they accepted the fact that henna designing is an art as well. They have never challenged me to block me away from my interest. I can honestly say that has helped me tremendously. Again, my clients were never concerned about my gender, but they were all surprised to find out I was just a young kid. . Before I experienced the challenges that I might have faced because of my gender, I had become famous for my works.
- -Becoming a makeup artist…
That is one of my funniest memories. When I was 14, my sister was getting her makeup done for her wedding. I saw how she sat down, how the makeup artist stood up and what cosmetics she used. I asked numerous questions to the artist as I had never had any idea what the cosmetics were called or how they were used. The following week, I had to go to do henna designs for a bride, and I confidently told her that I even do makeup. She was confused at first and she asked me if I knew the cosmetics that she got for her wedding day. The questions I asked previously to the makeup artist came in handy, I told her the cosmetics and how they are applied. The next day, I worked on my first bride’s makeup which was satisfying. That was the day that I proofed to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. From that day on, I have worked hard to enhance my skills in makeup art, I read and searched about the different cosmetics there are.
- -Weren’t you scared a bit that you might ruin her makeup on her wedding day?
I am very attentive to the things that I am interested in. When I see something being done, I won’t rest till I know everything there is to know about it. I study it thoroughly. So, I was a bit nervous that she might not like it, but I was never scared. And, I just want to say she was really impressed with my work and loved it.
- -You are famous for how well you do your work. What efforts have you made to be this good at what you do?
I never took any courses regarding henna designing or makeup art. It all started when I saw people doing it, and it interested me. Once I got in to the profession, I try my best to experiment and try out different methods and designs. For instance, mixing up two colors in a henna is something I tried out and that came out to be great. There are some makeup videos I look at, and I also search the internet to get tips that might help me. But mostly I try to be creative at what I do. To be a good makeup artist, one needs to have adequate knowledge about skin and color. For instance, I don’t usually use one color foundation. It is hard to find a foundation that is exactly similar to our skin color, and that is why I try to mix different colors to get the exact color I want to work on. There are various methods and techniques to put on makeup the right way. Sharing experiences is one of the ways I use to enhance my skills. I take advice from people who are in the same profession as me which helps greatly.
- -The products you mostly use?
Yes, by the way, it is important to know the products you use on the skin. The different types of cosmetics are meant to serve different types of skins. For instance, putting on oily foundation for an oily face isn’t a good idea. And that is why it is important to know the skin before any cosmetic application. It is good for the health of the skin and, most of all, it looks good. I advise my Eritrean sisters to ask a professional how to apply their makeups or at least search the internet before putting on any product. To get back to your question, I mostly use Mac, Bobby brown, kiko marked products.
- -You are also married and a father of two at a very young age. Does it get challenging at times?
No, it is great. I am married to someone who truly understands the value of a profession, Liwam Tadesse. Some of my customers would tell me that they would get jealous every time I touch a customer. Not in my wife’s case. She is the one who supports my career. She takes appointments for me and pushes me harder to work hard on my profession. And we have been blessed with two beautiful kids, a boy and a girl.
- -Thank you for the interview Yafet, before we conclude our chat…
I want to thank you for having me. There are some people in my life who I am grateful for. Dehab Fatinga, Helen Paulos, Winta Gerezghier, Liwam Asrat, Samrawit Fitwi and Mizan are few of the people who have made me stand on my feet. Those people bring me any cosmetics I ask for, and I don’t think I would have been here if it weren’t for their tremendous help. Again, I would like to thank my family for all their support.