Master of the Trade: M.A.C’s Baltasar González Pinel On Art, Makeup & Trends

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M.A.C’s Director of Makeup Artistry EMEA, Baltasar González Pinel, recently visited India. In an exclusive with ELLE India, he discusses the role of art in make-up, the brand’s innovative new launch, and trends that are likely to explode in the upcoming season.

ELLE: In one of your interviews, you mentioned Spain being your first source of inspiration. In which ways does it inspire your art?

Baltasar González Pinel (BGP): Spain has a huge cultural influence. Historically, it’s full of moments in terms of painting and architecture that are inspiring. I think my connection with my country got stronger because, growing up, I discovered art there which had me intrigued. You get attracted by things that you can see, and that probably became my approach to art. Inspiration for make-up artistry, to a great extent, comes from art. However, I do take inspiration from different cultures, but Spain remains special.

ELLE: Tell us about the moment you decided you wanted to enter the world of make-up.

BGP: I was attracted to fairies as a child. There were times when looking at fairy images, I used to feel that if I changed the shape of the eye or the hair, it could change the entire look. It felt like a special power. And it got me thinking, what if I can do make-up in real life? I felt I was ready to take it up as a profession. For me, the challenge was to move from painting on a flat surface to a face and working with textures. I study beauty and make-up scientifically, and that’s my job.

ELLE: As a brand, M.A.C has a character of its own. How do you ensure that your personal sensibilities fall in sync with the brand?

BGP: I have always been pushed to talk as an individual about ideas. Yes, there is a vision which, as an artist, I have to adapt to, but I don’t have to embody it. At M.A.C, we are always told to be ourselves and build the brand. What makes the brand come alive is the people. After working here for 23 years, I feel I have imbibed the brand, and it has my character in it. It works both ways.

ELLE: M.A.C has recently launched its first-ever concealer pen, the Studio Fix All Over Concealer Pen. Tell us more about this new product.

BGP: It’s an interesting product and format that we worked on, especially after the pandemic. As compared to other products offered under M.A.C’s Studio Fix range, this concealer pen has more of a lightweight texture. It feels like a second skin that looks real. The process of making its pigment is extremely interesting, where the pigment particles are broken into microparticles, as light as fumes. In terms of the design, it makes for an easy application. As a makeup artist, I’m interested in results, and it’s quite an effective product. It delivers on its promises.

ELLE: What is it about India and, especially, our approach to make-up and hair that you enjoy working with?

BGP: It’s the culture for me. You know, as a child, I had a book called One Thousand And One Nights that I distinctly remember. The book is a collection of tales from India, China and Africa. In one of the stories, the author described the features of a boy from India–a round face, thick and dark brows and big eyes. There was something striking about it. It felt like how we discuss make-up now.

If I may confess, the West has always been fascinated with India and other Asian countries (laughs). We envy your big eyes and naturally thick brows… In make-up, you can narrate a story with just eyebrows. It changes the way you look. If you observe the paintings and illustrations in the Indian books, the classic ones, you can see different types of eyebrows. There’s some attraction to the eyebrow shape. Also, the way Indians frame the lower waterline with kohl, it’s fascinating.

ELLE: When you design an editorial look, which is your focus feature and why?

BGP: For me, it’s the eyes. Eyes are like magic to me… they just show how one is feeling, like a direct connection with emotions inside you. Whether it’s humour, happiness or sadness, the eyes just give it away. It’s not the same with skin or lips! If I have to choose one product, I choose eyeliner because it captures the entire shape of the eyes. I absolutely enjoy working with shades like sapphire or dark green.

ELLE: When it comes to make-up trends, which ones are on the anvil for the coming months?

BGP: I think we are going towards the shades of orange. I am seeing a shift from fuchsia to orange and corals again. I’m also seeing shades between fuchsia and gold, which have always been two safe options. Globally, there is a shift from red and its deeper shades to orange. I am talking about shades of orange like tangerine and roasted brick. I think it’s modern and kind of spicy!

ELLE: What is the one piece of advice for budding artists?

BGP: First of all, understand that being a make-up artist is difficult. Don’t take it as a profession to make others beautiful; that’s just the surface of the concept. The actual concept is to create stories, support the industry, and be able to connect with people who wear make-up. As I said, it’s not just about applying and fixing makeup but beyond… it’s the science.

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