A worldwide pandemic brought forward many challenges to entrepreneurs and artists, but Airdrie's Bryan Francisco has found success in his field nonetheless.
The 27-year-old artist has amassed more than 700,000 followers on the popular social media platform Tik Tok and has garnered over 10 million likes, showcasing his ability to create genuinely unique art through the discipline of makeup application.
“The process can be stressful,” he said. “Now, with so many people looking at what I do, I always want to find and create the best looks.”
Francisco said what started as an entry via the drag scene during one of his birthdays quickly sprouted into a full-on obsession and discovery of his untapped talent.
“My best friend told me I should do drag on my birthday as something fun to do,” Francisco said. “When I was doing it, I thought it was so much fun. Drag wasn’t for me, but the makeup part of it was really good.”
Francisco said he was first inspired by copying drag queens and learning their techniques. Once he got a grasp of how to create different looks, he said the inspiration started to come from everywhere.
In 2020, he signed up to learn more about the craft through Artists Within Makeup Academy – a program dedicated to teaching makeup application skills to the next generation. After becoming certified and learning all of the technicalities and basics of the industry, he said he started to find his niche.
While the discipline has become very popular among younger generations, Francisco said drawing inspiration from sources like the Hunger Games and Avatar movies helped him form his own unique style.
“It’s a lot of character design,” he said.
Also in 2020, Francisco did a series of makeup looks centred around astrological signs. Giving each one its own face, he posted them to his Tik Tok account. Later, a friend let him know his posts had started trending on the platform.
“That’s where it all started,” Francisco said. “I never thought it would blow up the way it has. There are a lot of artists better than me [so] I couldn’t believe it.”
Francisco is currently a teacher's assistant in a class for students with diverse needs, and said he hopes he can continue doing what has drawn him so much attention.
To show what can happen in a year, this summer, Francisco said he’ll be returning to the program he was once a student of to teach classes to the next generation.
He added taking in all the brand deals and collaborations that come with social media success has been another learning curve.
“The support of my followers has inspired me to create,” he said. “My lifestyle has changed. Brands reach out to me and as a new artist, I don’t have any experience into how to promote these things.”
Francisco said he is trying to adjust to the life of a social media influencer, although he doesn’t necessarily see himself as one.
“I think once you are in that game, you are kind of considered an influencer,” Francisco said.
As he continues to advance his makeup application skills and career, Francisco said he wants to continue to learn and grow, and one day land in the film industry as a makeup artist. Francisco also recently won an online competition held by Val Garland – L’Oreal Paris’ global makeup director – for one of his submitted looks.
“I feel like all of this is a long time coming,” he said.