UI student sees the human face as a blank canvas

UI biology student combines her makeup artistry with her integrated biology knowledge.


Thomas A. Stewart

Olivia Peters poses for a portrait on Thursday, August 30th, 2018. She is a freshman from Bettendorf, Iowa majoring in biology and minoring in art. She has been doing work with cosmetics since junior high.(Thomas A. Stewart/ The Daily Iowan).

Sarah Stortz, Arts Reporter

University of Iowa freshman Olivia Peters views the human face as a canvas. As with any other artist, she sets a base before beginning to work. Using a jumbo cream-colored eye pencil, Peters marks the spots on her face, making sure the vibrant colors will stay put.

Peters said her interest in makeup started in junior high when she started following various makeup artists on YouTube, and she has played around since. She particularly enjoyed watching makeup artist Kandee Johnson and her method of creating transformative looks.

“I thought it was really interesting how a person could completely transform physical appearance just with an hour of time and some patience,” she said. “It has kind of a magical quality about it.”

Majoring in integrated biology, Peters said, she draws creative inspiration from the facial anatomy of people.

“If you look at a lot of my makeup looks, the way that I will shape things and contour things has to do with the way the face is structured,” she said. “I think a lot of my interest in that stems from my interest in the life sciences.”

Peters said she doesn’t think of the typical beauty perspective while creating a look, instead of viewing the process as being meditative.

“People can send a message or tell a story through their makeup looks,” she said. “It’s not just about looking good. Just like any other form of art, you can send a message or express yourself.”

She enjoys looking up different makeup artists on Instagram, saying several of them share a similar style of work. She’s particularly drawn to artists who create face charts, which are 2D drawings portraying what someone’s makeup can look like.

When it comes to creating abstract looks, she prefers to practice on herself. However, she also delves into creating traditional, glamorous makeup looks, typically on clients. She has previously done makeup for girls for homecomings and proms, she said.

“I feel kind of honored to be able to help them,” she said. “It’s important moments for them and just the fact that they let me in to be a part of that.”