While I was researching another story for my post this week I came across a most impressive portfolio from a celebrated makeup artist named Matin Maulawizada. I was instantly intrigued, so I called his agency, Timothy Priano, to find out more information.
It turns out he’s not only a very established artist, he is also the Global Artistry Director and Brand Ambassador for Laura Mercier cosmetics. His list of celebrity clients reads like a roll call of the Academy Awards red carpet. But that was not what interested me the most about Matin (he uses only his first name professionally), it was his philanthropic work with a foundation that he started called Afghan Hands.
Matin graciously agreed to talk with me by phone earlier this week. I’d like to share the Q&A.
Can you tell me how you got started in your career as a make up artist?
In the mid-80’s I needed to work in order to pay for school. My roommate was working as a make-up artist and asked me if I could work with her team. She told me what to say in my interview and I was offered a job on the spot. I ended up working as a resident artist, then freelance between stores in San Francisco until I finished my undergraduate studies.
It is very clear from your body of work that you have been extremely successful, to what do you attribute your success?
It’s hard to say. I have been very fortunate. There are so many incredible talented artists in NYC – all wanting to do studio work. But somehow I got the right opportunities once I decided to do make up as a career. I must say it’s been a lot of luck, some intuitive understanding of the craft, and a genuine appreciation of the life it has afforded me.
Who are some of your favorite celebrities to work with?
Claire Danes, Angelina Jolie, Rachel Bilson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Liv Tyler, and Paloma Faith are among the beautiful girls that I’ve work with. They all have real lives with diverse interests that I adore. They have not gotten entangled with the whole “celebrity” label. I’ve had the pleasure of working with legends such as Jeanne Moreaux and some young pop stars, and I’m lucky to say that every client I’ve been booked with has been nothing short of generously sweet, super smart and innately aware of the world. For that I’m grateful.
I understand you established a foundation called Afghan Hands. Can you tell me a bit about it?
Afghan Hands is a project I started with my partner Mikhail Serdiouk. I wanted to go back to my homeland but not empty-handed. Thirty years of war not only ravished the country’s infrastructure, but left it in physical, emotional and psychological ruins. Education was one of the basic needs that got hit heavily – especially among women. I wanted to reach out to the widows and women that are the sole supporters of their families, and offer them functional literacy, numeracy and their human rights in the context of their environment, so no one can imprison them in the name of family honor, religion or customs.
In order to sustain the project, we also employ them as embroiderers. We sell their exquisite pieces of art and provide them with livable wages. I’m a bit allergic to the word ‘charity’ excluding causes for children welfare and animal welfare. I’d like the embroidery business to someday function as a profitable entity with the proceeds going to the right hands.
Why is this charity so important to you?
The project brings all the crazy parts of my life together. As an Afghan man I often say I have no business being in beauty. If you knew my culture you’d know what I’m talking about. But the connections to celebrities and magazine has helped with getting major press for Afghan Hands. I feel deep in my heart that my life journey has prepared me to take on this challenge.
How can someone interested in supporting Afghan Hands get involved?
One can donate, or simply shop on our website afghanhands.org. Another great way to help is to spread the word and let people know about the organization.
I would like to thank Matin for taking the time to talk about his body of work, and to fill me in on his wonderful organization. And a shout out to Danielle Sadd, the West Coast publicity and marketing coordinator at Timothy Priano, for her being so kind in assisting me at a moments notice!.
Written by Anthony Costa