From secret talents to her hatred of cheese, get to know the TikTok superstar make-up artist
Check out the full 2020 Dazed 100 list, and vote for Abby Roberts’ idea – which is up for a grant from the £50,000 Dazed and Converse Ideas Fund – here.
Did you know Abby Roberts was obsessed with dinosaurs when she was younger? Or that she thinks cheese is massively overrated? That she has had an Arcade Fire song stuck in her head for the past few days? Probably not, but now you can find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know – plus some things you probably wouldn’t have thought to ask – about the make-up artist.
One of the 100 exciting creatives spotlighted in this year’s Dazed 100, the 18-year-old make-up artist from Leeds wows her 9.2 million TikTok followers with her imaginative, funny pop culture transformations. From Tim Burton characters to looks inspired by her idols Billie Eilish and Lana del Rey to – you guessed it – dinosaurs, the breadth of her beauty talents is wide and breathtaking.
Get to know everything about her in a series of quick-fire questions below as she takes our pop quiz, and head here to vote for her idea: to donate to the Trevor Project helping LGBTQ+ youth and make a TikTok to highlight young LGBTQ+ artists.
the sound was too perfect not to♬ this isnt your sound - babymamarexkitten
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Abby Roberts: When I was super young, I had kind of an obsession with dinosaurs. So I always wanted to be an archaeologist. But as I grew older, I found my love for art and just creating things in general. So from then on, I kind of knew that I wanted to do something along the lines of being creative, being an artist in some form or another and eventually settled on being a make-up artist.
What clique were you in high school?
Abby Roberts: I was most definitely a nerd. I mean, if you can’t already tell from me wanting to be an archaeologist. My favourite subject through school was art. So I spent most of my time doing art in the classrooms. And I didn’t have too many friends, I was kind of unpopular. I just had my glasses, I had braces. I would not do my hair. I would wear the worst clothes. But I would always try and do my best in all of my studies. I got pretty much all As and A*s all throughout school and I was really passionate about trying to do well in my academics.
Who gave you your first break?
Abby Roberts: My first big break when I started getting recognition online was when James Charles found me and put me on his Instagram story. He used to do these things called ‘sister story takeovers’ where he would pick one of his followers who he thought had talent that he wanted to share. So I recreated one of his make-up looks and he found me through that and then decided to let me do a little takeover make-up tutorial on his Instagram story. And I went from pretty much no followers to like 100,000 overnight. So that was my first big break.
Mario and Luigi could never 😌 love you the most sister @jamescharles ##foryou ##foryoupage ##mario♬ 123start - cyrusaho
Why do you do what you do?
Abby Roberts: I love being creative and it’s my way of expressing myself. I feel like if I didn’t do art, I would be creating in some way possible. But I think that art – seeing as I’m such a visual person – is the best way for me to communicate my feelings and my emotions. And just expressing how I interact with the world.
What does community mean to you?
Abby Roberts: I think that community means a sense of belonging and friendship. I think especially on TikTok I’ve really found my community in the past six months. When I first joined I felt kind of lost and I didn’t really fit in. And eventually I found my friend group and people with similar interests to me. And that’s really a great thing because I don’t think I would have met those sorts of people in general life if it hadn’t been for online.
How does your community inspire your creativity?
Abby Roberts: A lot of my community has come from TikTok and I think that’s a good thing because we are all a group of creatives. So we tend to collaborate a lot together and that inspires my creativity.
What issues are you most passionate about?
Abby Roberts: I’m really passionate about LGBTQ rights and mental health awareness. I think being so involved in the beauty community has really opened my eyes to the issues that a lot of LGBTQ people face, especially seeing boys in beauty and the hate that they face online, unfortunately.
And mental health awareness. I’ve struggled with anxiety for a lot of my life, specifically social anxiety. Having to meet a lot of people through doing the job that I do has been pretty tough but it’s kind of allowed me to overcome that, in a way. I’m really passionate about bringing awareness to mental health issues, because it definitely is just as real as any other issue. And a lot of people seem to brush that off, but I think it’s important that it’s something that we all work on.
Who do you think is making real change in the world?
Abby Roberts: I think Billie Eilish. She’s one of my biggest role models, she speaks a lot about mental health and the struggles that she’s gone through and I think her music is doing a lot to help people with that as well. And she also has done a lot for helping the environment as well, which I really admire.
If you were in charge for a day, what law would you invent?
Abby Roberts: I would say that all people worldwide should have the same human rights that we get to enjoy. And this is specifically aimed at LGBTQ people in a lot of countries. Russia still has concentration camps for LGBTQ people and it’s hard to believe that that’s still happening in the same world that we live in where a lot of LGBTQ people in the West get to have a lot more freedom. I just think that everyone worldwide should get to enjoy the same equal human rights.
Explain your Dazed 100 grant idea in one sentence.
Abby Roberts: I will be donating the prize funds to the Trevor Project and using my platform on TikTok to create a TikTok bringing light to young upcoming LGBTQ artists.
Why should people support your idea?
Abby Roberts: The Trevor Project is a charity that helps young LGBTQ people have a safe space and they have a helpline for if they’re struggling with anything and just provide advice and guidance for people who are feeling a little lost, which I think is really positive and really helpful. That’s why people should support my idea.
i felt like being the corpse bride today♬ original sound - versaceaudioš
When do you feel most creative?
Abby Roberts: I feel like creativity is definitely a muscle that has to be worked on. It's something that if you don't practice it often, it does fade away. So I like to try to be creative every day and at least do something. If it's not make-up, I do art, I do clothing customisation. I just find it so satisfying being able to create things. So I think when I feel most creative is when I’m in the flow of creativity. So I’m doing it every day, I’m always looking for inspiration, finding things all around me. And by doing it so often, that is when I feel the most creative.
How do you get over an artistic block?
Abby Roberts: It’s quite difficult. Like I said before, I think creativity is something that you have to practice every day. Otherwise it's difficult to be inspired if you're not constantly looking for inspiration. So I think getting over artistic block is sometimes about having a little step back from things because you can get so involved in trying to force inspiration that it doesn't come naturally anymore. Take a step back and look for new sources of inspiration. And just let your brain rest a little bit because you can burn out sometimes if you're doing too much. But if I'm looking for new inspiration, I'll look at what new movies, new music is coming out and see what that brings to mind.
Name three things that inspire you.
Abby Roberts: Pop culture is my main source of inspiration. But I think under that pop culture umbrella is music, music videos, album covers, that sort of thing. Another thing that inspires me is movies and TV. I love doing character make-up and make-up inspired by a concept itself. So I've done Stranger Things make-up, Black Mirror-inspired makeup. And then the third thing that inspires me is other make-up artists. I think that looking at other make-up artists, especially on Instagram and TikTok, is super inspiring to see other people who I wouldn't have found otherwise in person.
frick u carole baskin (ft @charlottelooks)♬ Savage Tiger King Edition - calebjaxin
What’s the best concert you’ve ever seen?
Abby Roberts: I would have to say Lana Del Rey. My two favourite artists in the world are Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish. I had the pleasure of seeing Lana Del Rey on her ’Lust for Life’ tour a couple of years ago. It was just such a surreal moment because I know all the lyrics to every single one of her songs. That was absolutely the best concert I’ve ever seen.
If you could own one piece of art, what would it be?
Abby Roberts: This is a difficult question. As much as I had an interest in art all through school, I don’t know if there’s a specific piece of art I would want to own. Maybe wearable art. I think I would find that more interesting than owning a singular painting. I love the work of Iris van Herpen, any of her pieces I think would be incredible.
What’s the last thing that you made?
Abby Roberts: The last thing I made in terms of make-up was a butterfly look I just did the other day. It was like a pink butterfly look with pink cow prints on it as well. I wanted to combine the two ideas. Physically, it was some jeans that I painted. I did some white, sketchy paintings all over a pair of jeans to make them more my style.
‘send me a video of u recreating ur favourite album cover’♬ JoJo Pose - Apollo Fresh
Which fictional character do you most identify with?
Abby Roberts: One of my favourite shows is Game of Thrones. I really identify with the character of Jon Snow just because of his morals. I feel like he was one of the most sane people in the show. And also he’s northern, and I’m from West Yorkshire, so I kind of related to that.
What’s your secret talent?
Abby Roberts: I can put both of my feet behind my head. I’m very flexible for some reason. I have no idea why, I’ve never done any exercise or gymnastics in my entire life.
Abby Roberts: I have very strong opinions on this. I think that Love Island is really overrated. I don’t see what the hype is all about. Also Riverdale, it was so bad from the first season and I don’t understand why people still watch it. And also cheese. I hate cheese.
Abby Roberts: I think the show Midnight Gospel on Netflix. It’s a show I’ve been watching recently and it’s not like anything else I’ve really seen. It’s a show that’s made up of podcasts and they put like wacky animations over the top. So it’s kind of similar to Rick and Morty in the style of animation. The topics that they talk about on the show are always along the lines of mental health and mindfulness. And I find it really interesting and just relaxing to listen to.
What keeps you motivated?
Abby Roberts: I would say that success but success through authenticity. I wouldn’t do anything for success in a way that’s morally wrong. But I would always aim to be successful and that is my main drive. But doing it through my own creative ways.
Which film do you never get bored of?
Abby Roberts: I have a lot, I love Tim Burton movies. I think Edward Scissorhands is one of my favourites. I love the character of Edward Scissorhands and I think the movie and the whole styling and the costumes and make-up is really fun.
What song is stuck in your head right now?
Abby Roberts: For the past few days I’ve had ‘My Body is a Cage’ by Arcade Fire stuck in my head. I re-watched Euphoria and that’s on the soundtrack and I’ve just been loving the soundtrack from that.
What are you embarrassed to admit?
Abby Roberts: My screen time! My screen time on my phone is absolutely ridiculous. I spend so much time on there. I just checked just now and the latest update says I spent 12 hours a day on my phone.
What piece of clothing means the most to you?
Abby Roberts: I would say my Halloween dress that I wore last year. I went as Carrie with the blood poured all of me and my sister Charlotte made the dress for me. It took her ages and it turned out so, so well. It was a great collaborative project between the two of us and I have such great memories with that dress. I wore it to the Anastasia Beverly Hills Halloween party in Los Angeles, and it was just such a fun time.
What’s the last lie that you told?
Abby Roberts: I told my mom, ‘I’m getting out of bed right now’ this morning, and then I ended up getting up at 11am.
What advice would you give to your past self?
Abby Roberts: I think being more confident. I tend to doubt myself and my skills a lot. It’s something that over these past few years, I’ve definitely improved on and become a lot more confident. But I think that I’ve still got a long way to come and I tend to get anxious about a lot of things. So, confidence is something that I would tell myself to improve on, as much as possible.
What is your favourite slang phrase?
Abby Roberts: I think, ‘Bruh.’ You can say bruh to anything. Something bad happens: bruh. Something great happens: bruh.
What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?
Abby Roberts: Music by Pink Guy. I don’t know if any of you know Joji, the singer, he used to have a persona that he went by called Pink Guy. He used to have another persona called Filthy Frank on YouTube that I was a big fan of and then he went on to make music under the persona of Pink Guy. It’s really stupid. The lyrics are really ridiculous and kind of offensive and out there but in a satirical way. I just find that really funny.
What will the world look like in 2050?
Abby Roberts: I think it’ll be a lot more technologically advanced. Hopefully for the better. We don’t want a Black Mirror situation happening. A lot more electric vehicles. My dad is in the electric vehicle industry. I don’t know exactly what he does but he talks a lot about it! Hopefully that will help to reduce the pollution and make for a better future.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
Abby Roberts: I think I would have to say Elon Musk. I just think Elon has done so much, it’s hard to believe he’s done all of what he’s accomplished himself. He’s constantly working on new projects that are really inspiring and not a lot of other people would even dare to attempt.
What song hits you the hardest?
Abby Roberts: This is really difficult because I love music so much and a lot of songs really mean a lot to me. But one song that I really love is “Plastic Taste” by Joji. It’s sort of a story of how social media can impact relationships and I really connect with that song.