Cosmetologist Jan Bonito from Ergün Tercan Salon in Denver, CO, struck Internet gold when he started posting his American Horror Story-inspired makeup transformations on his Instagram account. “I’ve loved the show very much since its first season,” said Bonito. “And this past Halloween pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, so I just went for it.” In about two hours, the time it usually takes for Bonito to create most of his looks, the recent beauty school grad can use makeup to morph into such “Freak Show” characters as Twisty the Clown, Ma Petite and Pepper. Bonito’s artistry caught the attention of major media outlets like Buzzfeed, People and Cosmopolitan, and he now boasts more than 63,000 followers on Instagram. We spoke with Bonito about his inspirations, favorite makeup trend and what you should learn before mastering your own dramatic makeup looks.
What was it like when you noticed you were making waves on the Internet with your makeup work?I first found out that Buzzfeed shared my work from one of my co-workers. She has the Buzzfeed app on her phone and texted me right away when she saw the article. Eventually my clients noticed the attention I was getting and also other stylists’ clients.
How has the exposure been like so far?I've gotten offers from people all over Colorado, and all over the U.S., to do their hair and makeup. It's been really amazing. I hope I can travel soon to do classes because that’s been requested on my Facebook and Instagram accounts a lot.
How would people describe your makeup aesthetic?It depends on what type of makeup I'm doing. I feel more unique when I'm doing my transformations and crazy makeup compared to glam and regular makeup.
What turns you on creatively?I love listening to music from my childhood and watching culturally rich foreign movies, anime and television shows—basically most of the entertainment industry, since it goes hand-in-hand with the beauty and art industry.
What movies or TV shows have the best makeup of all time?Anything that Rick Baker puts his hands on. From The Exorcist (1973) and An American Werewolf in London (1981) to Maleficent (2014), he does very good work.
What tips would you give to those who want to create these dramatic makeup looks?Learn the basics of art. You have to know how to shade properly and know your dark and light values. I would suggest practicing drawing portraits on paper because that's what helped me.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?"Nothing is consistent, only change." That advice helps me feel better whenever I'm feeling down or something doesn't go my way, and it also helps me keep my feet on the ground whenever something good does happen.
What’s one beauty rule you never ignore? I never ignore the sunscreen rule because I've seen some very unpleasant results of sun damage on skin and hair.
In terms of makeup trends, what feels new, and what is tired?For the new trends, I'm enjoying the "bare minimum" look with some pops of color here and there. I love seeing natural beauty come through instead of a mask, which brings me to what I think is tired: over-contouring and boxy, overly painted eyebrows. If people like that look, then go for it, but for myself, I love the clean, inner glow look.
What’s your guilty pleasure?I like to binge-watch TV shows on Netflix and Hulu. A little unhealthy, but like I said, TV inspires me. I always try to figure out how the beauty team did the hair and makeup.
Do you have any favorite Oribe products?I love the Gold Lust Repair & Restore Collection. All of my clients love how soft it makes their hair feel without weighing it down.
Who is your dream client?Working with Jessica Lange would be a dream come true for me. I'd love to glam her up for the red carpet one day.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up?I am starting a YouTube channel very soon, and I might be doing some demos and workshops.