Diana IonescuFrom: Pitești Born on: 29 October 1985 Occupation: MakeUp Artist and DIMS makeup school founder
After just a few moments spent together, I was fascinated by what fascinates Diana Ionescu: creating character traits through makeup.
Diana Ionescu is a makeup artist since university, but the artistic drive was always there because she draws since childhood, paints since adolescence, and lately she has taken fashion illustration and watercolor painting courses as a hobby.
“During 4th grade, primary school, I fell and fractured my tibia. The whole summer vacation I did nothing but stay in bed and sketch. I filled an entire bookshelf with drawings.”, she says with a wide smile. Most were portraits born from pure imagination and translated on paper. “Physiognomy fascinates me. I remember that I drew on an A4 sheet with an obsessive attention to detail, only eyes. I was fascinated, concludes Diana.
And talented, I would add, because you don’t just win olympic drawing contests due to your ability to adapt to the competition requirements. There’s something more.
Photo: Acrylic portrait on paper, Diana Ionescu, 2019
What she lacked during high school she found at university.
I wasn’t that kid who had a group of friends. I rather asked myself, “How do I get along with them?” or “What am I here – among them?”. The same happened in high school. I had the feeling that I was NOT in the right place. Later, I understood that it wasn’t all in my head; I really didn’t belong with those colleagues. I had other priorities and clearly other interests and conversation topics.
In the struggle between humanities and science, science won and Diana attended a high school with a focus on mathematics and physics and later on the University of Architecture, giving up the arts higher studies. Her parents, mother – an engineer and father – a cybernetics graduate, both with scholarships throughout all the university years, explained to her the difficulties an artist encounters and urged her to follow the safe path of a science based job.
“I think that was the only time I felt restrained by my family. However, everything I lacked during high school I found in college. Although I realized early on that I won’t be able to practice architecture, I didn’t end it. Every step towards the technical details of an architectural system, its drawing – meticulous and on scale, proved that architecture isn’t for me. As neither were obtaining legal permissions, filing documents or discussing with clients. But what made me stay there were the ambition, the environment, my colleagues focused on what they have to do (to which I joined, but less passionate) and the teacher of technical design. He was a person dear to me, who influenced me positively by the way he thought, by the references he made available to us and by the way he widened our perspectives. Thanks to him I finished the last university years. Of course, somehow I also never lost the thought of my parents.
The curious case of the first steps in Makeup.
Diana has clear memories with all her mother’s cosmetics aligned in front of the mirror and she recalls: “My mom always wore lipstick before leaving the house. She was a role-model for me and I could hardly wait for the moment when I would also do the same.”
In secondary school, she began to steal her older sister’s foundation and use it. During the 8th grade she made more advanced makeup for herself and her friends before going out. Then she started buying products from Avon’s makeup books and realized there was an entire industry behind it. “Then I understood. I was looking at the pictures and I realized that someone had done the makeup there. I was wondering how EVERYTHING happened. I was curious, because EVERYTHING seemed perfect.”
Another indulgence was the Elle magazine that she bought from the small shop near the high school. She reveals both ashamed and proud that she read it during less demanding classes. “I was impatiently looking for Alexandru Abagiu’s editorials.”
Photo: Diana Ionescu, by Uanna Dumitrescu
“When I opened the studio I had the feeling of finally getting home.”
Now Diana is specialized in face art and physiognomy modelling. Since 2012 she has opened a makeup school and her own studio. She says in a lower voice: “When I opened the studio I had the feeling of finally getting home.” She there tests her ideas, she experiments, she creates, she keeps her classes and she talks about the job of makeup artist. “What motivates me is that I want this job to be understood differently. In general, people think that the makeup artists do makeup because that’s how life turned out to be and not because it is a job you choose consciously, a job you practice and invest in. Maybe from the outside it seems easy, in the sense that you don’t need a great talent, but a proper situation: to want it very much and so… it happens. Because training doesn’t last at all as long as any other university … What I try to teach girls at school is that being a makeup artist is a profession you choose. One you dedicate yourself to. There’s a colossal difference between those who practice it mechanically and those who passionately are about makeup and beauty. Following a recipe is simple, but I think it really matters to bring value through creativity to any field.”
“Creating a character fascinates me.”
The makeup has several niches, because it’s not only the day by day makeup, but there is also theatre and film makeup or photo-shooting makeup, where you have to prepare for an entire makeup concept.
Creating a character fascinates me. With a special placement of the makeup elements you can reveal interesting character traits. This also happens with drag queens, the men who dress and make up themselves to play a female role. They give life to a character in their minds. A character they access every time they are on stage, in a show or at various events.
When I first discovered the philosophy of the professional cosmetics brand Illamasqua, “make-up for your alter ego”, I strongly resonated with their message and I had a revelation. I really think that makeup transforms you. In fact, one of the core courses for beginners I present during the makeup school is transformational makeup. And by that I mean a classic makeup that aims to convey the different emotions and not the one obtained by latex effect – used in the creation of zombies or monsters.
If for the theatre makeup I have a predefined character, a costume and a set decor that helps me to go in a particular direction, at school I propose my students to start with 3 given words. Next, they combine them with their own vision to achieve a well-defined character. You have so many options and so much freedom that it becomes very difficult to choose.
Something I have noticed throughout my courses is that students are afraid of criticism and not being perfect in the work they do. I try to remind them what Dali said: “Don’t be afraid of perfection; you will never achieve it.”
Look, in the backstage of the theatre you only have one chance, either you succeed or you don’t. I like that pressure and I understand that it is a flow, everyone must do their job well and not depend on anyone in search of perfection. You work without the chance to correct what doesn’t come out as you want from the start and that brings a special dimension to the art.
Photo: Face art make-up demonstration, by Gabriela Paun
MS: What do you intend through each make-up you make?
To represent my style and vision, even if it is a makeup for the client. I mean, it’s what the client wants, but how I like it. My signature is always there.
MS: Is makeup an advantage for women?
Yes, it is a great advantage. If a man tells me “poor you, you must to do so many things”, I tell him “I don’t think it’s difficult; you can’t even imagine how much I like to do what I HAVE TO do.” I don’t think that makeup has the role of a mask to hide, an addiction without which you don’t feel safe at all, but it is definitely a feminine advantage. With a dose of responsibility, we can all take advantage of this asset.
MS: What does a good makeup mean to you?
A good makeup … I think it’s very important to know where to stop, to identify that fine boundary between where it is ok and where it isn’t, and not to insist as a make-up artist just for the sake of making your style visible. It is true that a daring makeup can be worn at 9 a.m., but only by someone who can wear it, who has that kind of personality. I can wear glitter at 9 in the morning, if I fancy it, but I can’t force everyone to wear glitter at that time just because it is my signature.
So, a good makeup is a personalized makeup.
I think this is the fight today – with the 5 or 10 types of makeup available on Instagram. One thing is the online ‘trend’ and another one is how we wear things in reality. A big problem for makeup artists is to make someone understand that a perfect face from a filtered or processed image cannot be obtained through makeup.
MS: What do you most admire about your colleagues?
I admire those who are still there because I know what it means to still be relevant after a long time. It’s easy to have that dream and then just become a trend.
Those who hold on are those who are truly made for it. It’s not a wave that they follow. It’s their vocation.
MS: How do you keep yourself informed?
I follow a few relevant artists and go through fashion and beauty trends reports because it delivers compact and comprehensive information. In that way I can see which direction things are going. For example, Vogue Runway is a platform I often find myself on.
From my research I noticed that the trends in make-up start from London, England, while the implementation and retail market starts with USA leading. On the other hand, the Asian area, Japan, Korea, creates new products, tests and launches them, while Europe is simply borrowing, as has happened before for example with cushion foundation or moisturizing face masks.
Photo: Diana Ionescu, by Uanna Dumitrescu
“You can keep your femininity in a men’s suit.”
One constant change that I have felt more and more important in the world of make-up is that of an increased need for self-makeup.
Ten years ago, many people didn’t even think they were going to take self-makeup courses, but this explosion of cosmetics makes you want to buy them. And while you have them, why not learn how to use them and why not do it properly? At the studio we also receive more and more requests for individual and personalized self-makeup courses. I think one of the reasons behind this increased need is the constant exposure on social media and the pressure created online. You want to present yourself every day looking great.
I think it’s fascinating how the beauty standards change over time and especially how certain traits become beautiful. The history of makeup is essential in our understanding of society, as is the history in general for any kind of evolution. If women wanted to follow only a single trend in the interwar period, they afterwards began to look for diversity in the 1960s. The hourglass silhouette, the curls, the cat’s eyes, the sensuality have now been replaced with sportswear and the concept of comfort. Although they are related to the culture of a society and not only to a certain period, there are less and less women wearing skirts, dresses or purely feminine shoes. It’s true, you can keep your femininity in a men’s suit, but you need a sensitive detail, a neckline, a red lipstick or high heels.
Diana grew up in Pitești and she spent her holidays with her grandparents in the countryside, 40 km away from the city. That’s where most of her beautiful memories from childhood come from.
“The best was in the attic.”
At grandma’s I was losing track of time. Whether I was going to the river with all the children in the area, played in the hay with the kittens, or playfully gathered apples, plums or nuts, time passed differently there. The best was in the attic. A kind of open attic where the hay was stored. Through its cutout I was looking at the stars.
It was freedom. And the truth is that nobody made us work during those summer months, neither me nor my cousin with whom I spent my days with. Both my grandparents and my parents protected me a lot and didn’t force me to do certain things just because it was good to go through them. I think it’s really hard to let your children think they are choosing what to do and not make them feel the pressure of their choices. I was never punished for not scoring high enough in school, and yet I only had good grades.
Photo: Diana Ionescu, by Uanna Dumitrescu
“I want to constantly improve myself.”
Currently, Diana merges the long, full days of filming or shooting, with those spent at the make-up school teaching. The fact that there are these fixed courses, predictable in a rather spontaneous lifestyle, allows her to find stability “in all this chaos”. “At first, until I realized and accepted that this is the domain in which I chose to work, I was in shock,” she says.
On her days off she cooks from Asian cuisine (“not necessarily Chinese, but rather the spicy style from Thailand”) because she loves everything that contains curry.
Diana cannot imagine waking up in the morning and doing anything else than what she does now. I asked her what she didn’t ever want to lose and she replied: “the joy of doing what I do. I don’t want to get used to it, to say it’s good and simple and to just keep going. I constantly want to explore other areas because yes, you can get bored, especially if you practice this job unbalanced – if you do only this. My goal is not to be the best or to keep being the best. What I want is to constantly improve myself. I want to do what I can and do it better every time.”