Not that many make-up artists can say they’ve had a succesful book published of their work. Japanese make-up artist Ayami Nishimura can!
I first met Ayami in London about 10 years ago on a shoot. She’s little and cute and very charismatic! She has an amazing energy for life and her work, so much so that in 2009 British photographer Rankin approached Ayami with the opportunity to work on his next book after publishing a book with make-up artist Alex Box. He wanted to continue the make-up series/theme. Ayami jumped at the chance. She spent the next 2 and a half years with Rankin ( in between working on regular fashion shoots) creating a book about her make-up, inspired by her Japanese roots and her fascination with all things cyber. This amazing book was published in 2012
Ayami has worked for Vogue, W, and Harpers Bazaar amongst others and regularly works with one of my favourite musicians- M.I.A. Recently she re-located to New York after spending 20 years in London. I just worked with her in New York and managed to get her to do a Q&A for me, to tell us about the book, her work and a little about herself.
Interspersed between her answers is some of Ayami’s beautiful work including one of her most recent beauty shoots for Italian Vogue and at the end there’s a link to click on where you can buy her book.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE GROWING UP?
When I was little I always liked animals so I wanted to work in a zoo or be a a vet.
HOW DID YOU END UP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING NOW?
After graduation from high school in Japan, I was interested in beauty and also city life so I moved to Tokyo and started to work in hair salon.
London was always my dream city to live since an early age and I moved there in 93’. I studied at Vidal Sassoon Academy then started to work in a salon in Islington.
That time I was hanging around with new / student photographers and they all wanted me to do hair for their test shoot and I just started to do both hair & makeup for them. I got so excited to be on the shoot and I really thought I’d discovered what I really wanted to do – soon after, I decided not to do hair anymore to concentrate on makeup .
WHEN DID YOU MOVE FROM JAPAN TO LONDON?
It was in May 93’ and just before my 20 years anniversary of being in London I moved to NY in April.
WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IF YOU WEREN’T YOU?
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
I was in East London Hackney Downs where I love and now I am in the East Village in NYC.
IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT YOUR CITY WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Make rent cheaper.
WHAT ARE YOU INTO RIGHT NOW ( MUSIC, FASHION, ART, FOOD)?
I am always into all of the above.
Music: I like indie rock, Britpop, 80’s, dance, Hip Hop, electro.. I am listening to Manic Street Preachers, Mary J. Blige, Prince, David Bowie, The Knife, Kate Bush, New Order, Joy Division, Jonny Cash, Jay Z, 80’s Madonna, M.I.A, Editors.
Fashion: We just started to shoot all new SS 14’ collections and I am so excited!!
Art: Recently I went to an 80’s Madonna exhibition in NY and it was fun, also I really thought Rene Magrid @ MOMA was a great exhibition. I am going to the Jean Paul Gautier exhibition in Brooklyn next week. I recommend ‘club to catwalk’ at V&A in London, they are absolutely fantastic shows at the moment.
Food: it is so important for me. I have been trying new places in the East Village, there are so many fun restaurants! Japanese food is so good here in NY and also great Mexican & cocktails. I also cook pretty good Japanese foods myself, I am into healthy clean foods, I use lots seaweeds and fishes and love miso soup.
Films: I like lots of different things. My most recent film I saw at the cinema is Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’ and I thought it was brilliant. I like Kubrick, David Lynch, Coppola, Cohn Brothers, Polanski, Fellini. I recently watched ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Magnolia’, ‘The Truth or Dare’ on DVD again and really enjoyed them. I think the original version of ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ are great series. I am into gangs like Scorsese too, I saw ‘God Father’ so many times and still enjoy it every time.
(above, some of Ayami’s amazing from work from her book with photographer Rankin.)
SO YOU JUST DID A BOOK WITH RANKIN! TELL US ABOUT IT!
We launched in London in July 12’, everyone came to celebrate our launch party, it was great fun. Then we went to Tokyo to launch it in August at Diesel Art Gallery, we had great success and 6,000 people visited the exhibition in 3 months!!
My theme of the book is ‘Cyber’. I like Cyber fashion and also our life style has been changed so much since we all started to be into the i-phone, i-pad, i-pod, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. I thought the word ‘Cyber’ is a symbol of our life.
The book is very colourful and inspired by lots of different things like Animals, flowers, Japanese Street fashion, Avedon, Tattoos, Serge Luten, and anything I like. Each picture is telling you a different story of ‘Cyber’.
It took me 2.5 years to finish this project and I am 200% happy – I can’t do any better than this.
LIST YOUR TOP 5 BEAUTY PRODUCTS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Chanel No 5,
Crème De La Mar,
Estee Lauder ‘Advanced Night Repair’,
SK-II Facial Mask,
CHANEL Cils Volume mascara
(AYAMI’S BEAUTY STORY- NOV 13 ITALIAN VOGUE BY DAVID DUNAN)
YOU ARE ON A DESERT ISLAND AND ARE ONLY ALLOWED 10 SONGS ON YOUR IPOD. WHAT WOULD THEY BE? (AND EXPLAIN – IF YOU WANT TO- WHY YOU CHOSE THEM.)
There By The Grace Of God by Manic Street Preachers / I think this is just a beautiful song.
– Jet stream by New Order / I love New Order and this song is like singing about me.
– Pictures of you by The Cure / It is beautiful and I never get bored of The Cure.
– Never Let Me Down Again by Depeche Mode / It’s just great, what else can I say?
– Head Over heals by Tears For Fears / I love this, so 80’s amazing!!
– Spellbound by Siouxsie & The Banshees / I think Siouxsie is just fab and this is one of my favourites.
– Make It Wit Chu by Queens Of the Stone Age / This is a very sexy song.
– Losing My Religion by R.E.M / Have you ever felt like that.. I have.
– Bone Machine by Pixies / This always excites me when I listen.
– Keep it together by Madonna / So much memories in Madonna’s early songs.
IF YOU COULD LIVE ANYWHERE BESIDES WHERE YOU ARE, WHERE WOULD IT BE?
I would like to stay in one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand or Malaysia and do scuba diving and learn surfing.
WHAT MUSIC WERE YOU INTO GROWING UP- ARE YOU STILL INTO IT NOW?
Yes, often I listen to the same music. I was so into Beatles when I was little because my older brother was always listening to them. It was ‘The Beatles 1962 – 1966’ and I always make sure I have this album with me everywhere I live.
After I was listening to Sex Pistols, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Culture Club, The Cure, Madonna, Prince and I do still listen to them as well as I listen new music – I just think they were amazing, just amazing, I definitely think there was more soul into their songs and lyrics than music now.
WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGNER THAT YOU WOULD WEAR?
I wear quite lots Givenchy and I absolutely love. I also love mixing young designer like Nasir Mazhar, Swash and vintage cloths with Chanel, Prada, Miu Miu.
(above, some more of Ayami’s work.)
LIST YOUR TOP 5 FILMS AND WHY YOU LOVE THEM.
– Blade Runner / I love everything about this great film, so inspiring. It is still future to me.
– Clockwork Orange / It is absolutely crazy and aggressive yet very funny and great images. The book is brilliant too.
– Barry Lyndon / Great story, great images and beautiful makeup and costume!!
– Magnolia / It is wicked, everyone in this film acts amazingly and it is just beautiful when they are all singing at the same time.
-Chinatown / Faye Dunaway is just beautiful, mysterious.. It is very 70’s and great to look at.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE DESSERT?
I love Éclair.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN ONE WORD.
Someone who is fully.
WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
MASTERMIND IS AN ICONIC TV SHOW IN THE UK WHERE YOU CHOOSE A SPECIALISED SUBJECT TO BE QUESTIONED ON. IF YOU WERE ON THE TV SHOW, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR SPECIALISED SUBJECT?
Madonna between 82’ ~ 85’
WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO NEXT?
I think I’m going to London!
Thank you Ayami for taking the time to answer my questions. To purchase her beautiful book click HERE