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@meicrosoft

Make-up artist Mei Pang is turning the internet into her beauty playground


TextScarlett Baker

The Canadian make-up artist and digital creator discusses how the internet helped to inform her identity and her journey to becoming a TikTok sensation

@Meicrosoft – not the rolling fields of green desktop screen and the shrill start-up noise of Windows XP kind – but the self-confessed ‘over-sharing internet kid’ and make-up artist known as Mei Pang – a name you’ll definitely recognise from your FYP if you’re a TikTok fanatic. In just over two months, the Canadian star has amassed an audience of over 700k followers on the platform, documenting her eccentric and ethereal make-up looks from butterflies to barbed wire

“Launching my TikTok felt like the next organic step for me,” she explains, following on from the success of make-up on Instagram and YouTube. “I was so scared starting my TikTok because I know it’s a younger demographic, I know there are so many eyes, that when I stepped into the game so late, and looking like this, I didn’t know how well received I would be.” 

Revered for her 80+ tattoos – each of them symmetrical – and her shaved head, Pang is using her image to overcome the restrictive structures she felt growing up. “I lived in a primarily Caucasian town outside of Toronto, and I was one of the only Asian kids in my high school. I know a lot of people get bullied in school, but for me, it was very racially charged – I always say I’m too Asian for the white kids and too white for the Asian kids. I’m this weird mix because my family didn’t teach me Mandarin or anything about my culture because they wanted me to be as Western as possible,” she tells us.   

From sharing her yoga practices, her intricate portraits to her virally acclaimed cat Latte, Mei Pang talks on her journey to becoming a make-up artist and the virtual beauty world. 

@meicrosoft

a lil BTS video of a v natural makeup look 🥲 #makeuptutorial #fyp #bluemakeup #flowermakeup

♬ BTSTU - Demo - Jai Paul

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what it was like growing up in Canada? 

Mei Pang: I grew up in a very hyper-religious all-girls private school and figuring out my identity in such a structured environment, I felt like I had no choice but to rebel. I was always getting into trouble, but beyond that, I never really had the time to figure out who I was and that made me angry on the inside. So I left home when I was 14/15, I bounced around a lot and after graduating high school, I got accepted into art school in Toronto and I’ve now been here for six years. 

What was your time like as an art student? Was it during this time that you got into make-up?

Mei Pang: I didn’t finish – I’m your classic art school dropout. I went to school for drawing and painting with a minor in screen printing, but that’s pretty much all I got out of it. Going to art school made me realise it wasn’t my lifelong dream, more of a creative release, and I think art school itself killed my motivation because of the structure. I felt those restrictions again like I did in school and so when I left, I still wanted to pick up a brush. But this time, rather a brush on a canvas, it was a brush on your face. 

“I still wanted to pick up a brush. But this time, rather a brush on a canvas, it was a brush on your face” – Mei Pang

Can you remember when you first started using make-up? What’s your earliest beauty related memory?

Mei Pang: It was definitely through the internet; through MySpace, DailyBooth, Tumblr. The internet made me realise that there’s more to make-up than just simple eyeliner and pink lipstick. I was your typical MySpace scene kid. I was such an emo, with the black eyeliner and every single colour of hair. I’m one of the lucky ones who first experienced the rise of make-up on YouTube with people like Michelle Phan and RCL Beauty 101. Then I got my first make-up retail job maybe five years ago and I was a stock girl so I wasn’t even on the floor. I was seeing all of my co-workers glammed up in these beautiful looks, when I didn’t have that much experience. I was so inspired by them I started to come to work with more fun looks and then rose through the ranks, got on the floor and it’s all been uphill from here. 

Where do you find the inspiration for your looks?

Mei Pang: Definitely from my friends on the internet world. We push each other. Also, most of my inspiration comes from fashion. I take so much from graphics and prints, especially animal print or retro looks from a couch that I’ve seen on the side of the street and I think to myself, I can probably put that on my eyes; it gives me the most chance to play with colour. 

You’re recognised on TikTok for your make-up but also your tattoos. Is there a message behind them?

Mei Pang: The quick run-down about all my tattoos is that they’re symmetrical. What you see on one side, you see on the other. When I got my second tattoo, I walked out of the shop and I felt a bit lopsided and heavier on one side – and the biggest thing I try to tell people about getting them is that I have a strong belief that not all tattoos need to have meaning. 

You talk candidly across your platforms and share your life from your yoga practices to your cat Latte. How has it helped you grow creatively and how does it feel sharing your life through the internet?

Mei Pang: The reason why I didn’t start my TikTok for the longest time is because when I opened up the app, maybe over a year ago, I saw the platform itself and the editing features and thought I’m too old for this, I don't understand what I’m looking at. And I see all these people do like these amazing, amazing things with the videos because for me, my bread and butter is my Instagram and that’s just still photos, then YouTube it’s long-form content of me talking. So I’m like, let's challenge this whole 60-second thing. I think it’s helped me grow up a lot, just trying new things with transitions and now my music taste! I probably get all my new songs on TikTok. I've definitely grown in that aspect of just being able to now try new short-form videos. 

Do you find it hard to switch off?

Mei Pang: As a Virgo woman with an Aquarius moon? Absolutely.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to hone their skills as a creative/MUA?

Mei Pang: I probably say this maybe once every couple days to myself and it’s from my Dad. He always told me: try everything once. If it sticks, it sticks. If it doesn’t, at least you tried. And that’s essentially my whole mantra, that’s why I shaved off my hair, why I’ve gotten all these tattoos, and I’ve worn some pretty questionable things. If I try and don’t like it, at least I know. My advice to MUAs would be not to get discouraged. I’ve seen a lot of my friends trying to grow online and it’s just not happening. When I started my Instagram, I got one follower a day or then lost a bunch and then one day it just changed. It’s just learning to be patient. Try everything once, go out of your comfort zone and just experiment with different makeup styles. 

How do you think the beauty industry has been impacted by TikTok and social media? 

Mei Pang: It’s insane. One person can say one thing about this one product and next thing you know it’s sold out instantly. I feel like the beauty industry has also grown in that if we didn’t have social media, I’m not sure we’d have the diversity. Whereas before it, even going into drugstores and looking for your foundation shade would be so difficult. Whereas with social media, there’s so many different faces and voices; it’s expanding and giving so many opportunities for so many. What I hope for during this time that people are stuck at home is that while they’re baking bread and making pottery, I hope that a lot of people have started playing with makeup and having fun. I hope to see new faces on my Discover page. 

“Try everything once, go out of your comfort zone and just experiment with different makeup styles” – Mei Pang 

If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Mei Pang: Definitely be Leigh Bowery, the icon of the Club Kid era. There’s one look where Bowery had acrylic paint just dripping from their head down and I thought it was the sickest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. 

What does ‘beauty’ mean to you?

Mei Pang: The concept of beauty to me is whatever makes people feel comfortable and cosy. I dress quite subtly but this is just how I feel beautiful – it’s having no hair and having a bunch of tattoos that makes me truly feel like myself and at peace.

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