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courtesy of Instagram/@ines.alpha

Lil Miquela: Ines Alpha is leading the 3D make-up revolution

3D make-up artist Ines Alpha chats to Lil Miquela about the future of beauty

Ines Alpha, aka Ines Marzat, is firmly at the forefront of the three-dimensional digital make-up revolution. Collaborating with artists, musicians and models on Instagram, the Parisian artist and former advertisement art director creates bewitching 3D face make-up which blooms, quivers and sprouts upon the screen. After pursuing her fascination with 3D tech, Alpha felt lost in the stereotypical sci-fi world of cars, architecture and explosions. “Her creations are equal parts living masks and 3D make-up,” says Lil Miquela. “The kind of thing a robot might wear to the Met Gala in the year 3052.”

Lil Miquela: Hi Ines! Been a fan for a long time, so I’m v excited to ask you all the questions. First off: how would you describe the art you make? I feel like “make-up artist” only covers a small part of your overall work.

Ines Marzat: Thank you so much! I’m very excited and flattered to be interviewed by the coolest robot. I would consider myself as an “e-makeup” or “3D-makeup” artist, AR makeup artist works too but it sounds too tech-y. I came up with the term 3Dmakeup. It’s the simplest way to describe what I love most in life: make-up and 3D. I woke up one day and thought, ‘hey, why not try to make a new kind of make-up using 3D softwares?’ It’s still very surreal for me because it’s not an official word, I mean you can not go to a 3D make-up academy yet. It’s a post-modern hybrid. One can also argue that because I work on beauty, self image or face transformation, regardless of the technology it’s all just make-up!

Lil Miquela: I’m so curious about your process. Like, do you ever come up with characters or backstories for your looks?

Ines Marzat: Do you want to discover the dark secrets behind my inspiration? I like to get inspiration from the people I collaborate with. First off, I dig into their Instagram feed to look for colours, shapes, personality. Once my analysis is made, I like to chat with them about things they dream: their dream outfit, dream appearance, favorite things in life, fantasies.  When I work with MUAs I love, I strive to augment their organic make-up by giving them movement, a 3D life. Even though it’s an infinite process, I also believe I have my own style that is the source to every 3Dmakeup piece. People think 3D design is primarily technical, but to me, 3D softwares are the new canvas and brushes, artistic choices and techniques need to come into play at every stage of the process just like painting. 3D design is what I use to make my imagination come to life. I have a fascination for science fiction, cyborgs, mermaids, tiny sea creatures, rainbows, mineral miracles, alien algae and mostly holographic textures. The most important thing to me in my work is to augment oneself’s beauty, make it surreal and whimsical, but make it look like it could be real, meaning non 3D, in a near future. That’s why I like to add 3D to phone footage without any costumes or futuristic clothes, it gives an illusion of IRL. I hope 3D make-up will become casual looks we see on the streets.

Lil Miquela: I know there’s been a lot of fear and confusion surrounding filters and face tracking technology. I’m curious what you think about it, given face-tracking plays a role in your work.

Ines Marzat: Face tracking is an important tool for me. For now I use a very basic old school technique: tracking points. It’s more or less what they’ve been using for VFX in movies for decades. I try to be as much of a technological expert as I can but I’m an artist, not a computer scientist. I wish I could export the tracking from filters apps to my 3D software so I don’t need to do the face tracking manually anymore. If someone reads this interview, please DM me if you can help! I read a lot about the fear of getting face data from filters app but that doesn’t scare me. People were not scared to have their addresses, phone numbers and official name in phone books. Some day I sense something big will happen but I still can't fathom what.

Lil Miquela: I think we’re all familiar with the tired, “you gotta take her swimming on a first date” meme when it comes to make-up, this idea that make-up is hiding something. In your words, what is the purpose of make-up?

Ines Marzat: To me make-up is about having fun, playing with colours, shapes, textures, objects on your face. To feel beautiful and express yourself the way you want. I’m not at all into make-up that hides or re-shapes your face to fit oppressive beauty standards. I’m into make-up that reveals a personality. It’s fascinating how people become better and better at transforming their face with contouring, baking, highlighting… If it can give people more confidence to go out there and show themselves and feel beautiful, that’s the most important part. My concern is to see beauty standards evolving. The problem is not that girls wear too much make-up, it is that beauty standards become increasingly unrealistic, and harder and harder to reach.

If you take me swimming on a first date, I want the pool to turn multicolour! I don’t wear that much make-up, I wish I had the strength to wear more and look the way I wanna look regardless of what people say or think.

Lil Miquela: What do you think make-up will look like in the near future?

Ines Marzat: It will definitely look like Ines Alpha 3Dmakeup. Just kidding! I wish! A growing number of people wear make-up creatively, in a more artistic and liberating way. I hope beauty standards will evolve in an emancipating way so people can feel comfortable to express themselves. I recently made a collaboration with @Madroni_redclock, her art for me could be the make-up of the near future. She has her own style, making her face look like a work of art. She goes to school wearing toned down versions of her Instagram looks and she is 17! That is so inspiring to me. When I was 17 I could go out with pink mascara and that was it. 3Dmakeup liberates me because I’m still shy and vulnerable, afraid of what people think of me. I am also afraid of plastic surgery and contouring, I hope that trend will not expand too much. If we collectively rise above beauty standards we can live in a world where everyone can feel beautiful.

My more futuristic science fiction vision would be macrobionic implants or tattoos with special inks that reveals holograms or animated pattern on your skin. But that won’t be in the “near” future. Lastly, a significant childhood memory – the Chanel make-up headset in the movie The 5th Element. A mask you put on your face, just a click and in one second you have a perfect makeup on your face.

Lil Miquela: Do you think body modifications will form a large part of future beauty trends? I’m thinking in terms of your 3D looks becoming feasible through different procedures.

Ines Marzat: Make-up innovations are developing very quickly. It’s a huge worldwide market based on heavy cultural requirements. Cosmetics is just the surface. I won’t be surprised if a whole new kind of technology is designed for future beauty trends. There has been a lot of new products these past few years and although it’s still more or less coloured powder or cream on your face, you can feel the need to innovate. Body modification is the next step. It’s already in plastic surgery but for now it’s very trivial, people want to look like today’s Los Angeles celebrity, huge lips, tiny nose, pull up the cheeks.

Fortunately, in a more creative way you can already see make-up artists using props on their face – flowers, paper, jewels, silicone – I’m thinking of @lokidolor, @tiggythorn, @cupidsvault, @james.t.merry and there are a lot more. I wonder if people will go out on the streets doing those kinds of highly technical make-up. It’s very cyberpunk. Maybe brands will develop objects you can safely stick to your face? Using 3D printing techniques or holograms. That’d be cool.

For now people can have fun using filters on Instagram for that and they seems super excited about it. That’s definitely the way I was thinking to make my 3D looks feasible and wearable for everyone.

Lil Miquela: Tears feature prominently in many of your looks. Is that intentional?

Ines Marzat: Not at all! It’s funny because the two videos with tears were the rare ones the other artists I collaborated with (Nicole Ruggiero and Melovemealot) asked me to make something very specific, thus the tears.

Lil Miquela: Are there any artists or performers you have on your dream collab list?

Ines Marzat: Bjork would be a life achievement, she has been consistently pioneering new looks and beauty attitudes. I would also love to collaborate with Grimes, I’m such a fan of her world and how she creates amazingly strong imaginary female characters, almost like goddesses and warriors. I’m also a huge fan of Nick Knight. His work is always magic and weird, it brings you into dreams. I’ll add Daniel Sannwald because if I’m not mistaken he’s the father of the glossy skin effect. There are so many people I look up to and that I would dream to work with and learn from them.

Lil Miquela: Are there any movies or books that have influenced your work? I find myself thinking a lot about Annihilation, for one, when looking at how you mix nature and tech, sort of mimicking and camouflaging flora and fauna. 

Ines Marzat: Annihilation was very cool! I loved the holographic effect they used to illustrate the other world. It’s simple yet effective, beautiful. Very clever. There is one book I loved though it’s not really a book you can read, it’s called Codex Seraphinianus. It was written in the 70s by Luigi Serafini. It’s like an encyclopaedia of an imaginary world with drawings of creatures, humanoids, plants. I started 3D trying to model plants from this book. I think I’ve been influenced a lot by the video game Final Fantasy. The costumes and weapons were sick, so many details and colours, the design of invocation gods were fascinating, all the different cities and villages you could visit and the cute little creatures that you could meet or team up along the adventures. It definitely made me want to work on a magic world that doesn’t exist.

Lil Miquela: What about “the future” makes you feel most excited or optimistic?

Ines Marzat: It seems like people have more and more energy to fight against what they judge unfair or wrong. I feel inspired by the younger generations. I feel previous generations have been more silent and accepting. With the internet becoming the main tool for speaking out your beliefs, there will be real struggles to fight for new ideas, renovate our ways of life, our conceptions of identity and society. I want to see huge improvements with tolerance, equality, self acceptance and also ecology.

PS I also hope AI will help emancipating humans from tedious and repetitive activities. For example, help me do my motion tracking!