@CarnivalSpotlight on Carnival Makeup Artist: BESOS

She is affectionately known as Besos, and carnival makeup just became a part of her repertoire around eight years ago. Before there was makeup, there was a girl who was a natural artist from infancy, who had an eye for aesthetics and could always be found painting, drawing, or decorating. Discovering the art of makeup didn't happen until her teenage years, and it wasn't under her early twenties that Besos began to get creative with her makeup designs.

The elements of artistry in the whimsical world of Caribbean Carnival are widespread. They span various disciplines in a way that encourages participants to seek, enjoy, and repeat their interactions with the products. Indefinitely. In fact, the industry of Caribbean Carnival is so vast that it has developed into a year-round enterprise where musicians, designers, dancers, and all related artistic masterminds can effortlessly move from one carnival locale to another, month to month, and country to country, in order to enjoy the vibe that is the brilliant experience of mas.

Costumes dominate the carnival experience--from a participant's perspective--because they involve the act of individual selection, innovation, competition, and of course exhilaration as masqueraders join with a particular group of revellers for that particular carnival's season.

A tradition, much like pan competitions, calypso/soca singing contests, and parades of floats, the wearing of costumes is a definite highlight of the contemporary carnival experience. Costumes give masqueraders an intangible electricity. Carefully selected colours and fabrics compliment skin tones and body types. Participants of all ages, sizes, and races instantly equalize as they select a costume for parade day. It is within this costume that the climax of their carnival experience takes place.

Costume: GAIA by Jeannine for Carnival Nationz, Toronto
Wearing this costume can be an act of flaunting...or an act of fun, but any carnival enthusiast knows that it is the glimmer of fabrics, wave of feathers, and glistening of beads that make the presentation aspect an important one. And at the centre of this artistry is another creative soul who has the honour of  highlighting the costume and clothing with flair and eccentricity: the makeup artist.

Much like dancers, theatre performers, and even brides, the makeup of a masquerader is allowed to be bold, risky, and of course show-stopping on the day of display. Meant to highlight the best features of the individual as well as the outfit, the makeup is the ultimate finishing touch to the presentation of mas.

Costume: EMPOWERED by Jeannine
for Carnival Nationz, Toronto
From Trinidad to the UK, the United States, and right here in Canada, there are always a handful of experts who have perfected the art of makeup application and enhancing costumes. They are overbooked for band launches and photoshoots, pulling long hours for carnival days and evening fetes, and they are so full of talent that their individual legacies are also becoming a staple element of the carnival experience.

Besos--who expertly specializes in SFX and Halloween makeup, body art, body painting, weddings, and overall glamour year around--is also known as a Carnival Makeup Queen. She has contributed to many beautiful presentations in mas from Toronto to her native country of Trinidad.

Even with all of the various disciplines of makeup artistry in her arsenal, there is a special exhilaration she gets from applying carnival makeup in particular.

"Every year is loaded with awesome memories, but the best part is the joy and happiness on my client's faces when they feel extra beautiful in their costumes, with their faces #BeatByBesos," she said.

"This is a look I created, for
practice," said Besos.
Naturally, the appeal of playing with "glitter and bling" makes the process of carnival makeup artistry extra appealing for the artistically intrigued. Besos notes that it's also getting to work closely with the carnival designers, and helping to create beautiful looks that compliment their costumes that makes the process a fulfilling one.

Her must-have tools of the trade: "A good jet black liner, flawless medium-to-full coverage foundations with the appropriate undertones (no ash), and lots of eye and lip colours!"

In an era of a cosmetic industry boom, with numerous appealing brands to select from, Besos has not committed to a particular product or origin. Instead, she gravitates towards various textures, what works best with her and particular clients, and what colours stand out to her. Pinpointing a favourite brand wasn't necessary--she is always able to find selections based on the individual and their personal objectives.

"Making people feel beautiful and empowered with my makeup and body art designs inspires me to be better, every time," said Besos, who also serves as the director of makeup at Toronto's Vanity Bar on Queen Street.West.

Whether she is doing a special effect for a targeted project (Besos recently did makeup for the "Fix Yuh" Raptors anthem music video), or blessing a bride with a soft and memorable application, Besos is a genuine artist at heart. To excel at makeup artistry, within the traditions of the Caribbean carnival, is a welcome and enjoyable bonus.

Besos' makeup designs are visible online via Instagram at @BeatByBesos and on Facebook at Art by Besos. She can also be reached for other aesthetic services via email at IslandBesosMakeup@gmail.com.

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.


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