KL-based artist Lee Ming Hui paints real-life Instagram filters on her face

A collection of @minghui.psd’s varied makeup looks. Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram
A collection of @minghui.psd’s varied makeup looks. Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram

When it comes to makeup, you wouldn’t normally picture someone painting a koi pond under their eyes or snakes on their eyebrows, but that’s exactly what this KL-based artist does.

Graphic design student Lee Ming Hui, 19, has taken her makeup hobby to the next level. Lee uses eyeshadow, face paint, and eyeliners to create intricate, colorful, and often mind-boggling looks that resemble Instagram filters.

Lee paints a dragon motif on her face (left) and decorates her cheeks with neon purple hearts (right). Photos: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram
Lee paints a dragon motif on her face (left) and decorates her cheeks with neon purple hearts (right). Photos: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram

Lee’s brand of art varies from aesthetically simple – like hearts on her cheeks – to stunningly detailed – like a dragon on her face. More often than not, her earrings and hair accessories will match the theme on her face. 

Just nine of the many creators inspired by Lee’s work, who tagged her on their Instagram posts. Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram
Just nine of the many creators inspired by Lee’s work, who tagged her on their Instagram posts. Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram

Her creations have inspired nearly a hundred makeup artists from all over the world, like Brandon Luxe, Sandra Beverly, and Lexi Sherwood, who showcase their iterations of her looks on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, tagging Lee in their posts.

‘Constantly thinking about random new things to draw’

Lee paints a pair of koi ponds under her eyes, accompanied with matching earrings. Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram
Lee paints a pair of koi ponds under her eyes, accompanied by matching earrings. Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram

In an interview with Coconuts KL, Lee, who goes by the handle @Minghui.psd on Instagram, says that she’s always thinking about creating something, her looks are inspired by everything around her.

“I’m constantly thinking about random new things to draw on my face at every hour of the day. If you see me zoning out, that’s what I’m doing.”

Although she tries to stay inspired, Lee is only human. She admits that there are times when she gets stuck in a rut and can’t think of anything to draw.

To stay on top of her unconventional game, she allows herself to take a break from makeup and explore other creative activities like drawing and painting on paper.

She also recommends scrolling through Pinterest, the go-to visual search engine for lifestyle inspiration. 

“I save a lot of graphic design work there and the colors and shapes just help me get back into it. It somehow stimulates my brain and creative juices.”

Lee seems to be doing fine during this season of self-isolation. When asked if staying at home these days has hampered her creativity, she said: “Honestly, not really. I have more time to think about ideas now.”

Her creative looks have garnered international attention through her Instagram account, where nearly 10,000 people from countries like the US, Canada, and Russia, follow her. But the artist has yet to wear her eye-catching looks outside of her home.

“I’m still scared of random strangers staring at me in public,” she said.

How it all started

Just a dusting of gold glitter on her cheeks and eyelids, one of Lee’s earlier looks created two years ago in June. Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram
Just a dusting of gold glitter on her cheeks and eyelids, one of Lee’s earlier looks created two years ago in June. Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram

Her first foray into makeup had nothing to do with painting masterpieces on her face. As a 16-year-old high school student, Lee began to explore makeup because prom was approaching.

She started getting creative two years ago in May, after she caught sight of the elusive Seoul-born visual artist only known as MLMA. She can be found on social media with the handle @Melovemealot.

“I saw her cool makeup looks where she just drew on her face with eyeliner and I thought that was really cool and was like ‘hey let me do that too,’” Lee said.

Makeup is expensive

A pink-themed look with bling and a touch of purple. what Lee calls ‘a simple look.’ Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram
A pink-themed look with bling and a touch of purple. what Lee calls ‘a simple look.’ Photo: Lee Ming Hui / Instagram

Despite having “way too many eyeshadow palettes and lipsticks,” all makeup products have expiry dates. 

Lee shows us her collection of eyeshadow palettes and singles. Photo: Lee Ming Hui
Lee shows us her collection of eyeshadow palettes and singles. Photo: Lee Ming Hui

As she spends roughly RM500 (US$115) on such products every year, the limited shelf-life of cosmetics does bother her a teensy bit.

The shelf-life of makeup generally varies based on the type of product; mascara only lasts about three to six months after it’s opened while most powder-based products can last for two years.

“Sometimes I pretend it doesn’t (expire) because of how much I had to pay for it. I’m definitely more cautious with cream products though,” she revealed.

Combining passion for makeup with graphic design 

A screenshot of Lee’s video that got the attention of a US-based channel. Photo: Lee Ming Hu / Instagram
A screenshot of Lee’s video that got the attention of a US-based channel. Photo: Lee Ming Hu / Instagram

Lee isn’t just about her varied makeup looks. She often combines her makeup artistry with her graphic design expertise. Last August, she appeared on US talk show Right This Minute for her makeup video. 

The All Glammed Up In Just A Few Clicks video showed Lee appearing as if she was applying makeup to her face the same way we do to online avatars in games like The Sims. 

“I edited one of my makeup videos to look like those nostalgic, online makeup games I used to play as a child,” she said. More than 30,000 people have viewed the video on Instagram as of today.

All in all, this talented artist is doing what she loves and allowing herself to inspire beauty creators out there every day.

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CITY: KLCATEGORY: LIFESTYLESUB-CATEGORIES: BEAUTY-WELLNESS

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