Celebrity Makeup Artist Andrew Velázquez has created signature looks for some of Hollywood’s brightest stars including Lady Gaga, RuPaul and Demi Levato. He was also a top 3 finalist on Lifetime’s reality show American Beauty Star, and now he is ready to share his unique story with you.
On November 15, Andrew released his first queer Latinx memoir LOVE IS ART | ART IS LOVE or AMOR ES ARTE | ARTE ES AMOR. The memoir focuses on Andrew’s first 40 years of life being a gay Mexican American man growing up in East Los Angeles. While Andrew’s journey involved struggling with mental health, suicidal tendencies, abuse and harassment; this tell all is ultimately about self-discovery and multicultural celebration.
In addition to the story of his life, the book features Andrew’s fierce and gorgeous re-interpretations of 10 classic Lotería cards, which is a Mexican game of chance. Growing up, the burgeoning artist found himself fascinated with the cards and so tells his story through use of ten specific cards, re-imagined through his queer Latinx lens and experience in beauty. The book features 20 stunning photographs of the queerified Lotería cards, with original makeup and wardrobe in exquisite settings, all conceived by Andrew and produced by him and his team. Each of the ten cards introduces a different chapter in Andrew’s life and career, from “La Rosa” and “La Sirena” to “La Dama” and “El Muerte,” illustrating his journey from a first-generation Boyle Heights family to his breakout season on American Beauty Star.
A true artist at heart, Andrew has also released other products that correlate with the memoir. He designed an eye shadow palette, Mi Corazón, that includes nine vibrant matte shades, all highly pigmented, cruelty free, and vegan, plus a fan and calendar; all reflecting the colors of his journey.
We had the chance to sit down with this visionary artist and find out some more about him and his work.
Queer Forty (Q40): Hi Andrew, thanks for joining us. Tell me, what drew you to makeup artistry?
Andrew Velázquez (AV): My Mexican mother encouraged me as a young child to be creative and had me attend the L.A. Music and Art School where I fell in love with the language of color. My mother would also take me to beauty school when she attended, and I was infatuated with the scents and fragrances of cosmetology. Naturally, I also attended fashion school, then cosmetology school and always nurtured others around me with the art of makeup.
Q40: What was it about Lotería that inspired you so much as a child and how do its themes fit into your life story and the makeup palette?
AV: My mother introduced me and my brothers to the Mexican bingo game of chance Lotería and I was always mesmerized by the artistry of the tarot style cards. For example, “La Muerte” / “The Death” or “La Sirena” / “The Siren”. Later in life, discovering tarot and learning the meanings behind each Lotería card somehow lined up with the timeline of my life. I was on a reality competition show called American Beauty Star where we were quarantined, and I began to journal and draw. This is where I realized my passion kept coming back to my culture and expressing my creativity. This led to writing my book and designing the artwork within it. During this time, I noticed a lack of pigment in my body makeup designs, therefore I chose to begin product development to create my own makeup palette called “Mi Corazón”. Staying on brand, I used the book’s artwork for the palette and named each eye shadow after each chapter in my book.
Q40: Besides Lotería, what has informed your artistic aesthetic?
AV: As an earth sign, being born during the wintertime on December 27th, I love mother nature, the universe, the galaxy and seasons. I am obsessed with scifi, and colorful aliens of the future. As an instructor in my classrooms, for my curriculum, I pay respects to past icons who have pioneered the traditions in the artform of hair and makeup. For example, the androgynous cross between male and female in the 18th century, the smokey sultry eyes of the 1920’s/30’s, the classic glam of the 1940’s/50’s, the avant garde approach of the 1960’s, the punk rock/disco of the 1970’s, the explosion of the 1980’s, and the drag queen club kids of the 1990’s. I believe it is important to celebrate them, all in remembrance, and I hope to leave my stamp during my time here.
Q40: How has your upbringing impacted your worldview?
AV: Wow, well this is a great question. Hands down, absolutely the love from my mother has shaped me into the man I am today. And as a teenager in the 1990’s, being raised in the conservative, macho environment of Boyle Heights, east of Los Angeles, I felt I had to hide a bit of myself; as I was told it was wrong to be creative and feminine. Therefore, I found myself often acting straight to fit in and not be bullied. This led to more self-discovery, and I was introduced to therapy at the age of fifteen where my mental health journey began. I am very empathetic and have compassion for any troubled youth, especially with suicide rates still rising in our community. I choose to share love and light with all in hopes that this can be infectious, rather than negativity.
Q40: What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?
AV: The artistry is what draws you in, however, it is the story of overcoming obstacles and discovering that through trauma you can trigger power and transformation. I choose to be vulnerable and prove that this is a wonderful trait to embrace; because with that you can enhance other potentials, evolving into your most authentic self. I call mine Zendrew, and by reading my book you will know your most centered, authentic self’s name too.
Q40: Sounds fantastic Andrew. Thank you so much for chatting with me and best of luck with the book.