It only took us about .5 seconds to realize we were feed-deep in FIT student and makeup influencer Aniyah Smith’s @aniyah.s Instagram account — thanks to her imaginative eye, face and lip makeup looks, from contrasting colors to precise swirls and even bold graphic lines. Smith may only be a college student, but her makeup work is wise beyond her years. Ahead, she shares where she pulls inspiration from, the song she plays when she’s in the makeup zone and her advice for aspiring artists.
How did you get started with your makeup Instagram account?
I’m an artist before anything — I’ve always created with different mediums. Around the time I turned 15, I realized a gap in the industry. There was a limited amount of complexion products, and color products that were pigmented enough for black women. I decided I wanted to build a space for black women in the community and I did that with my Instagram. My goal is to build a brand that caters to everyone but serves as an example for black women.
Where do you pull makeup inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from everywhere. Whether it's fine art, other makeup enthusiasts or the world around me. Living in New York and going to FIT, I’m around constant creativity. I love looking at Pinterest. The color palettes there inspire me every single day.
Take us through the process of creating a new look — where do you start?
I usually start with Pinterest. I have a board saved of looks, color palettes, patterns and more. When I look through that board, I’ll often find a number of things I want to pull from, and I build an idea off of that. Afterwards, I’ll sit at my makeup table, and play some music and create! I often don’t look back at my inspo once I’ve started because it’s just more fun to let my hands run.
Tell us what your makeup bag looks like on a daily basis.
I love having a “face in a bag.” So if I decide to not wear makeup or need to fix it, I have everything I need: Fenty Beauty Matchstix Matte Skinstick in Suede, which I blend with my fingers on the go, and either Fenty Glossbomb or the Karen Full-On Lip Polish by Buxom for lips. I always also carry brown lip liner, a mini mascara (any sample I’ve recently gotten) and a Benefit Brow Pencil.
What's the last makeup product you finished, and would you repurchase it?
I completely finished my Tattoo Liner from Kat Von D. There’s so many liners out there, but I haven’t found one that works for me as well as that one does. I actually just purchased a back-up, it’s my ultimate liner for bold and graphic looks, or even just a simple everyday wing.
Favorite song to play when you're in the makeup zone?
My favorite song to listen to is definitely “Party” on Beyonce’s Homecoming Live album. I love it so much because I start remembering the choreo, and it’s just all so perfect.
What's your advice for an aspiring makeup blogger/influencer or artist?
I would say keep going. I’ve honestly tried “giving up,” but something always pulls you back to creating. When you have that passion, you won’t even think about anything else. Also, engage with other artists in the community! They’re all going toward the same goal and you can probably make some great friends along the way. Lastly, it’s OK to take breaks. You can build a lot of pressure on yourself trying to make yourself known and sometimes it results in a creative stump. Take a breather, the followers will be there when you come back.
And finally, what does makeup mean to you?
To me, makeup is a creative outlet and more. It’s a way to define different standards of beauty and explore new ways of creation. I’ve learned — and I’m still learning — about photography, props and curation. I definitely have defined my skills past what I thought I could and I love it! Makeup is a way for me to make diversity a standard in the community. This black girl from Queens wants to make changes! I want people to feel like they can push strides with their appearance.