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Dazed 100 Ana Takahashi Madrona Redhawk

Ana Takahashi and Madrona Redhawk discuss their bold takes on beauty

The Dazed 100 make-up mavericks chat from London and Las Vegas about their IRL inspiration, Instagram, and how their heritage influences their work

The Dazed 100 is back, but not as you know it. For 2020, we’ve partnered with Converse to spotlight not only 100 of the world’s most creative, outspoken, and passionate next-gen names, but also their creative and philanthropic ideas. Explore the list, and you’ll find 100 manifestos to create, inspire, connect, and power change. 

In 2020, it is impossible to imagine a beauty industry without YouTube and Instagram. Together, the platforms have led to the democratisation of beauty thanks to a new wave of DIY make-up artists who are more interested in artistry than what it means to be “pretty”. Freshly announced as 2020 Dazed 100ers, Ana Takahashi and Madrona Redhawk are pioneers within this bold new beauty landscape.

19-year-old Madrona doesn’t play by the usual beauty rules. Swapping contour brushes and the ubiquitous Glossier skin sheen for power drills and thick globs of primary-coloured paint applied using inanimate objects, the Las Vegas-based teenager takes an endlessly playful approach to make-up. As much a performance artist as a MUA, Madrona’s Dazed 100 Ideas Fund concept is to stage an interactive public art show. “For example, me sitting in front of a camera next to a table of props and paint. A line of people would walk through, each choosing a prop with which to paint me, creating an improv paint video,” she explains.

Originally using her own face as her canvas, Londoner Ana Takahashi is in possession of a pair of enviably steady hands and a singular creative vision. With references ranging from Mount Fuji to Margot Tenenbaum (she counts Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums among her favourite films) to the iconic pearl-studded Balmain dress worn by Kim Kardashian on her Parisian hen night, Takahashi’s staggeringly detailed, multi-dimensional approach to make-up gives new meaning to the phrase labour of love.

Now 21, Takahashi has graduated from bedroom MUA to become one of the industry’s rising talents, painting a growing list of famous faces including Dazed 100 alumns Princess Gollum and Rina Sawayama and working for brands such as AsaiOpening Ceremony and Fiorucci. Ana would choose to donate a Dazed 100 Ideas Fund grant to an animal sanctuary, “to ensure the animals receive more care and hopefully re-homing”.

Days before the launch of the 2020 Dazed 100, Redhawk and Takahashi went head to head when we paired the duo for a WhatsApp conversation that spanned the Atlantic. Connecting from London and Las Vegas, they chatted about everything from self-image and insecurity to their families and the impact of their heritage on their work.

Ana Takahashi: Madrona, I’ve seen your work literally all over my timeline. I think it’s amazing. I love how you use your family in your work. It’s so cute. 

Madrona Redhawk: I’ve seen the image you did with the blue rectangle on your face with the negative space. That’s pretty famous; I’ve seen it a bunch of times.

Ana Takahashi: I see Instagram as a platform to put things on. I’m not a curator, I’m a creator, so I don’t go there to get images, I go there to post them. Inspiration comes from daily life. It can be the most random thing… 

Madrona Redhawk: I feel the same way. I never try to do inspired looks – I start my own. My inspiration comes from my head. Everything you see, ever, is going to inspire you and affect your brain. I never felt insecure about doing creative make-up.

Ana Takahashi: I can tell because you have such an individual look to your work, and I completely agree – it’s what you surround yourself with and who you surround yourself with. When did you start doing make-up?

Madrona Redhawk: Five years ago. I was bored, it was summer, I had nothing to do and I had been miserable all summer. So I just started doing make-up. I hear about a lot of people who got into the make-up industry who were really into the original beauty YouTube. I wasn’t like that. I never looked up tutorials or anything. I had really crappy make-up and no skills, and I sat down and I started. And I’m here now, so that’s pretty cool!

Ana Takahashi: I’m probably more of what you’ve just described. I sat down and I watched YouTube videos. That was sort of out of boredom too. People asked me to do make-up for photoshoots and I was like, “What the fuck?” So I went away and learned it properly and it went from there. I wanted to ask, is make-up the main medium you use or do you make art with different mediums as well?

Madrona Redhawk: I definitely gained notoriety from make-up. I didn’t start doing make-up, I started doing drawings which I am way more proud of than my make-up. Nobody is really interested in them and that’s fine – they’re pretty personal to me. The longest I’ve spent on a drawing was up to a year. Every single space that I can fill up needs to be filled up with detail. And they’re very realistic. I do a lot of papier-mâché cityscapes. I’m building a little statue right now.

“The most creative people come from that suburb life. I guess out of boredom you have to create” – Ana Takahashi

Ana Takahashi: I read about that statue! I read that you live in Vegas. I found that funny. For someone who is like me – born and raised in London – I have quite an artificial and basic understanding of what Vegas is Iike. 

Madrona Redhawk: I’ve lived here since I was three years old so I’m very much part of the city. The way Vegas is portrayed in the media is so funny. I’ve literally had people ask me if I live in a hotel. It’s mostly suburbs; it’s a bunch of suburban kids. It’s really fun. I will admit our reputation isn’t completely unfounded – we’re a party city. It’s definitely a very friendly party vibe. We’re the only truly 24-hour city in America.

Ana Takahashi: That’s interesting that you say it’s a suburb city because I’ve always found that the most creative people around me have come from that suburb life. I guess out of boredom you have to create. Do you see yourself going down the artist route – doing make-up for shoots – or more social media?

Madrona Redhawk: I don’t like doing make-up on other people. I never have. It makes me really uncomfortable. If I have to work on other people’s faces, then I have to keep my brushes hygienic which I’m not good with because I’m a very messy person; then you have to have every colour of foundation and every colour of powder… I don’t even have my own foundation colour! I just like doing make-up on myself.

Ana Takahashi: That leads to my next question. I don't know how far down you’ve looked down my page but I started doing make-up on myself. Through doing make-up on myself, I struggled quite a lot with self-image. I was wondering if you go through phases of hating that aspect of social media: taking pictures of yourself as content. How do you feel about that?

Madrona Redhawk: I hate taking photos in general. But I don’t really have a problem with taking photos of me. I’m pretty comfortable with how I look. I wouldn’t call myself beautiful, I’m not hideous. This is my face. Now since I do video performance art, it’s just my bare face. I’ve also become very comfortable with seeing my face flipped because usually if you see your face in a mirror or in a selfie, it flips it. I’m so used to that now I’m like, Yeah, that’s me! I think it’s actually made me become more comfortable.

"I’m Native American and one of my tribes is Shawnee – they’re famous for having elaborate paint and clothing and piercings. It’s in my blood to do make-up" – Madrona Redhawk

Ana Takahashi: That’s a really cool way of looking at it. Do you consciously try to be transgressive in your work? Is it something you were born with or have you developed it over time?

Madrona Redhawk: Nature versus nurture. It’s definitely a bit of both. I’m Native American and one of my tribes is Shawnee and they’re very famous for having the most elaborate paint and clothing and piercings. It’s in my blood to do make-up. I don’t believe that you can change how you think. It’s scientifically proven that some people don’t have an imagination. You’re born with the amount of creativity you have. I wouldn’t be as good as I am now if it wasn’t such a big part of my culture.

Ana Takahashi: You use your family in your videos. I’ve never really seen that. Using family gives it a really sweet and personal aspect. When and why did you start using family members?

Madrona Redhawk: I am closer with my parents than anyone else I know. If I wasn’t sleeping, I’d be hanging out with my Mum or with my Dad or together. Even in the earlier days they’d help me. When I started doing my performance art, I was like, why don’t we both do this on film? I think it makes a way bigger impact to have multiple people. I don’t think of a worded meaning to my poses but in those videos it’s definitely a passing on of the love and genes. It definitely means that.

Ana Takahashi: It’s a physical representation of your closeness as a family. That’s sweet. How are you coping with the whole Corona thing?

Madrona Redhawk: My entire family are major homebodies. I’m just sitting here, listening to CDs on my Xbox. I saw that you would want to donate the (Dazed 100 Ideas Fund grant) money to an animal shelter. Could you tell me about that?

Ana Takahashi: It’s pretty simple – I just prefer animals to humans. We have fucked up the world enough as it is. To me, that much money is absurd, and there are so many animals that need a home.

Madrona Redhawk: We were talking about doing make-up on yourself versus other people and that affecting your mental health. Do you prefer doing make-up on other people because of that?

Ana Takahashi: Yes and from a technical point of view it’s so much easier doing it on other people. I don’t mind doing tests on myself, but when it comes to taking pictures of myself I hate it. I’ve always struggled with self-image. When I was started out I used to FaceTune my pictures and then it got to a point where I didn’t recognise myself anymore. I was selling a lie so I just stopped using myself altogether.

Madrona Redhawk: So are you uncomfortable with the idea of Instagram in general then? 

Ana Takahashi: Certain aspects make me uncomfortable, like influencers. But when it’s someone like you it’s interesting because it’s a performance-based medium. 

Madrona Redhawk: It’s way more easy to get famous now than at any point in human history. So how do you think you would be getting on working in London in the 80s?

Ana Takahashi: Being in London has been my biggest aide because everything is here; fashion, film, the whole lot. So maybe it would be harder because people find my work through Instagram so I probably would have to navigate how I would get my work seen. But I guess that would be through networking. Instagram has made everyone lazier.

Madrona Redhawk: I was wondering about the person behind the art. Would you rather be an astronaut or be in a submarine in the bottom of the ocean?

Ana Takahashi: Deep sea, because I would want to discover. And I love sea creatures as an influence for make-up because the colours are insane.

Madrona Redhawk: I’d love to hear about how your Japanese culture influences your art.

"Going to Japan subconsciously influenced all my work. I naturally gravitated towards my roots. I went there, came back and everything just started looking Japanese-y" – Ana Takahashi

Ana Takahashi: I’m actually half-Spanish, half-Japanese but my family are all born and raised in Brazil. I’m Miss Worldwide. In my soul I feel more Brazilian than anything, but recently I’ve been having a lot more influence from my Japanese side. Just going there has subconsciously influenced all my work. But it just sort of happened that way, I naturally gravitated towards my roots. I went there, came back and everything just started looking Japanese-y.

Madrona Redhawk: It’s in your blood!

Ana Takahashi: It really is. Even the colours that I use, it’s like old woodblock painting. But maybe now that I’ve realised that, I need to make an effort to learn more about it. Doing more research and reading would probably aid my work and move it on a bit.

Madrona Redhawk: Do you think the Coronavirus will change the way you do things? You told me that you’ve been doing make-up more on yourself now. Do you think you’ll pick that up?

Ana Takahashi: Oh, I’m definitely going to go back to the normal stuff. As someone who is used to creating with a group of people, it makes me want to pull my hair out doing shoots in my bedroom. It’s so frustrating.

Madrona Redhawk: I see why Dazed chose us to interview each other. You do very polished work. I do the opposite, I love doing really raw stuff.

Ana Takahashi: I think that’s my biggest insecurity as a make-up artist. I can’t just throw it out there. I have to plan beforehand.

Madrona Redhawk: I’m the exact opposite. If a company asks me for a moodboard, it looks like crap.

Ana Takahashi: You’re doing your own thing, your own content whereas I’m fulfilling the needs of a client, fulfilling someone else’s vision as well as working on mine. So that involves compromise and planning. 

Madrona Redhawk: I’m very controlling with my art. That’s why I have trouble working with other people.

Ana Takahashi: So it sounds like you could be a creative director or something…

Madrona Redhawk: Anything art-based I can do. I like so many mediums.

Vote for Ana Takahashi’s idea on the Dazed 100
Vote for Madrona Redhawk’s idea on the Dazed 100