Many underestimate the hard work and dedication it takes to become a professional make-up artist. But this has never stopped Arsya Nafisa’s determination from following this path.

One of Indonesia’s youngest make-up artists, Nafisa always knew she wanted a career in the beauty industry. Ever since she was a little girl, she has been attracted to all things pretty.

One of her earlier memories had to do with a gift she received from her mother back in the fourth grade: a hair straightening iron.

“My hair is naturally curly but I had always wanted to have straight hair. I learned to use the flat iron to straighten my hair, and it turned out well. In fact, I was so good at it that my mother and some other people began asking me to do their hair,” the 21-year-old recalled. “When my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I always said that I wanted to have a job that is related to make-up.”

Born in Jakarta in 1996 to an architect father, the penchant for art and design always ran in Nafisa’s family.

“My father would teach me how to draw. I love anything related to the arts, design, fashion, photography and make-up,” she said.

In 2012, Nafisa made a bold effort to pursue her dreams. Switching to home schooling when she was in 11th grade, she then signed up for a course at LaSalle College in Central Jakarta, majoring in Artistic Make-Up – at only 16 years of age.

“I wanted to speed up the whole [academic] process so I could start working immediately,” she told NOW! Jakarta.

At the same time, she began taking orders from friends and relatives, as a part of an attempt to build her portfolio. On luckier days, she’d get paid a small sum, ranging between IDR 75,000 and IDR 100,000. Oftentimes, she offered her services for free, for the sake of building a good portfolio.

Creating a great portfolio at the start of her career was not the only challenge as Nafisa also had to deal with numerous clients that turned out to be too demanding at times. This is something she continues to experience until today.

“Every client has his or her own characteristic and personality. Sometimes, they are very controlling of what I do. When this happens, I try to stay patient and convince them that their make-up will look better if they just let me do my work with little intervention,” she said. “In my experience, the result is going to be disappointing if I try to create art when I’m in a bad mood.”

Between 2012 and 2014, Nafisa took professional make-up courses at Andiyanto Salon and Puspita Martha International Beauty School, as well as a course with a renowned Indonesian make-up artist Irwan Riady, whom she considers as one of her biggest career influencers.

Her hard work paid off. By 2014, Nafisa had managed to create an outstanding portfolio that granted her more prominence in the industry. Some of her clients are A-list celebrities such as Chelsea Islan, Mira Lesmana, Reza Rahadian, Raisa Andriana, Adipati and Eva Celia. She has also been involved in many prestigious fashion shows as well as the musical performance based on the classic tale “The Wizard of Oz” at Universitas Bina Nusantara in Jakarta.

At the moment, her fees start at IDR 1,000,000 to IDR 1,500,000 for regular, natural make-up and IDR 2,000,000 to IDR 8,000,000 for bridal and engagement make-up.

“My favourite is bridal make-up because I can use more varied and intense colours, so it is definitely more fun,” she said, adding that she still needs to be careful when applying the make-up so she doesn’t go overboard. Red lipstick, for instance, can make someone’s lips much bigger than they actually are, she explained.

As she seeks to climb higher, Nafisa acknowledged that she has found contentment in her career choice. It even has helped her improve personally.

“I used to be shy and had difficulties whenever I had to speak in public,” Nafisa said. “But now I’m more confident in talking to others and I no longer stutter as this job demands me to interact with a lot of people. It has also helped me to become more disciplined and punctual.”

Arsya Nafisa