Landon Marx finds his passion in helping others through makeup

When approaching a makeup counter people don’t often expect to be greeted by a man. But men can form deep connections with their customers without gender being an obstacle.

Landon Marx, 23, is pursuing a career in the makeup industry as an artist with MAC Cosmetics in Calgary. Creating inspiring moments forms the backdrop for his passion for makeup artistry, but when he first started working in the industry, he was stereotyped because of his gender and sexuality.

“Not only is it a male makeup artist stereotype, but it’s a gay man makeup artist [stereotype],” Marx says.

He explains further that many customers expect him to be flamboyant, but he breaks down the misconception that all gay male makeup artists are overly expressive and display feminine qualities. Marx is laid back. He respects other gay male artists and their flamboyant characteristics, but he describes himself as very down-to-earth — a quality he sees reflected in feedback from customers.

“Being gay has never hindered this art,” says Marx, adding the majority of those who have their makeup done by a male apparently prefer the artist to be gay rather than straight.

As a former co-worker and fellow MAC artist, Michel Angela Sanchez affirms that many male makeup artists are very flamboyant, which is often the stereotype for the entire male makeup artist population. She realized after meeting Marx, however, that flamboyancy in male artists isn’t always the case.

Produced by Allison Badger and Victoria Stey

Marx describes a time when he helped a hesitant male customer. Looking for a way to cosmetically hide the grey in his beard, the client gravitated towards Marx because he felt more comfortable speaking to another male. Marx recalls what the man said to him, and the connection they made.

“‘It’s good actually to see guys working here,’” the client said. “‘I was very hesitant at first and I thought you were going to be some weirdo.’”

Marx replied, “No, I’m just a guy that does makeup for a living.”

Males working in the makeup industry have been a part of a long tradition in India, where makeup artistry, specifically in the film industry, had been restricted to only males. According to Time magazine, Indian high courts ruled on Nov. 3 that this 59-year-old practice is unconstitutional because women are excluded from the film makeup artistry.

Marx has obviously not faced legal hindrances of being a male in the makeup industry like women have in India. But from his experience, females seem to dominate the industry in Western culture.

EvenlineCharles Academy offers programs from hairstyling to esthetics and makeup artistry. Megana Ramaswami, of the hair design and advanced esthetic programs based in Edmonton, says that female enrollment is higher than males.

“From experience, a class of students in makeup artistry will usually be about 10 people, and generally in every class there will be one male. In a given year, we would have usually 80 students coming through and anywhere from six to eight of those would be male,” Ramaswami says.

Whether you’re into the full clubbing makeup look or a simpler look to enhance your features, Marx devotes himself to helping customers find a look that’s within their comfort zone.

Photo by Allison BadgerThere is almost a 100 per cent graduation rate and most students go on to become freelance makeup artists based on clientele they built up during the program.

There is no noticeable difference between female and male students in their artistic capabilities, although Ramaswami recognizes that in many instances males have more passion and motivation.

“I think that has a lot to do with the fact that obviously the majority of males don’t necessarily have a lot of interest in this area so the ones that do, I think they do a lot more research and have a much better idea of what they want to do compared to an average student who enrolls,” Ramaswami says.

One of Marx’s favourite parts of being a makeup artist is the fulfillment of helping others. He is inspired by the genuine thanks he receives from his clients, and Marx feels he is able to connect with people through his gender and passion for his career.

“I feel like I’m giving back to the community in my own way, like giving back to people,” Marx says.

Nathan Mass, Marx’s partner, understands why his passion for the industry comes from inspiring others through makeup.

“I can really see that he enjoys making people feel good,” Mass says, adding that Marx is always very proud of his work.

Mass explains that throughout his journey in the makeup industry, Marx has gained confidence personally and professionally.

“He’s definitely got a lot more pride in himself, it’s really nice to see the kind of confidence it gives him,” Mass says.

Mass believes the makeup industry is a good fit for Marx because of his artistry, and desire to do better. The MAC retail store provides the opportunity for Marx to move up in the company, as he focuses on continuing to grow in his career.

Marx’s main career goal is to become a trainer at MAC, and spread his passion to newcomers in the industry.

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