07 October, 2014

Interview with Joseph Harwood: L'androgyny Originale

When I asked Joseph for an interview I had no idea that my biggest makeup inspiration, favourite Youtuber, a teacher, motivator and a little bit of a role model would actually answer me and was gonna say yes. You can imagine me being hyper for a whole day telling all of my friends what has just happened. :D Still cannot believe it. Let me introduce him to you:

Joseph Harwood is a successful makeup artistandrogynous model and a Youtube guru who mesmerises the world with his male to female makeup tutorials. Having been chosen for a winner of You Generation (a search by Simon Cowell for the world’s best new makeup artist) his recognition sky-rocketed! His channel has now more than 75.000 subs and almost 5 mio views, he also worked with Jinkx Monsoon, Willam Belli, Alaska Thunderfunk and Detox. He is just about to launch his new cosmetic line Joseph Harwood Cosmetics. His grand success is also channel Perfect Androgyny. It's a LGBTQ collab channel, he'll tell you more about it. When we talked, it was obvious he was a very clever, confident, unique but extremely down to earth person, which I appreciate a lot.

If you're not so familiar with following expressions like 'androgyny' and 'LGBTQ', click here to read more.

Agnes: What's the mission of Perfect Androgyny and why did you start it?

Joseph: Around about 2008 I was invited to be a part of a collaboration channel called 5AT which was a day in the week style blogging channel. Every member was very visually gender ambiguous and it was at a point in my life where I was a young teenager, finding people who I could relate to in that way. I posted every Sunday with a collection of amazing bloggers, Strophanthus who was our Monday poster, created the channel alongside Bryce, who was our Wednesday. The OutbackGoddess Bruce, was Saturday, Michael James was Friday and we had a number of guests. I understand it was based on the hype surrounding the channel 5 Awesome Gays, there wasn't anyone doing a more gender related version and it was just alot of fun to start a conversation in this format, there were no videos like this on youtube at the time and it was a start of a community. I had a bit of an issue in regards to using tranny because I've never connected to the word, I've always associated it with negative connotations but I understood doing the channel was addressing those negatives and taking the power back. None the less, 5AT came to a close that year and I started helping Michael James out with his personal channel. We did a number of tongue in cheek reality shows where we blogged about our day to day lives, but we definitely got a bit of a backlash from other members of the LGBTQ community which is something that happens all too frequently.

I proposed we restart 5AT as a way of showcasing people who were gender ambiguous in a positive light, in spite of any backlash. We were originally playing with calling the concept 'The Glam Elite' but I found it a little pretentious and that was the opposite of what I wanted the channel to be about. I filmed the trailers and orchestrated the channel, started inviting people who I had connected with via myspace and began researching into better titles and definitions. I looked into the history behind words and other definitions that I could relate to which opposed the title of 'tranny'. None were things I could identify to, but the word hermaphordite, a combination of 'Hermes' and Aphrodite' got me thinking. I played with a new title called 'AndroForm' or Androgynous Beauty. I just wanted it to be something that had fresh connotations and could apply to everyone, because we all have characteristics that combine the masculine with the feminine. I liked how androgynous sounded in french and I played with l'androgyny belle, l'androgyny genetique, l'androgyny parfait. The latter became my msn address and my emails, and it just kind of stuck.

In 2011 and started creating tutorials for my own channel, I began loving the relationship you get with your audience. I had all the concepts and ideas I had been keeping for the channel still, I just didn't want the timing to overlap or come across as a competitive move so I sat back and waited. Then I saw an opportunity to start something new, paying homage to the original 5AT, with my vision behind it. I reached out to some of my friends, some people I admired and we started working on the channel. Everyone put some element in to what it is right now, whether with graphics, ideas, music or videos. I wanted to showcase cisgendered people who represented the opposite, I wanted to showcase drag, I wanted to showcase transgendered people, I wanted to showcase variation and I worked really hard coming up with a balance of topics and fun concepts. PA has been absolutely amazing, Mathu Andersen giving us a topic to discuss, the rapper L1ef reblogging our trailers, and the amount of people involved in the cast has been sensational. I love all the members, and the combination of the whole is really successful. Firstly, the mission is to just have fun because the greatest example to set to people, is just being who you are. But I want it to be inspirational to people. I'm excited to have started a whole new season!

Agnes: What is the accomplishment you're most proud of? Joseph: In my career I've had huge success in the last year, winning the YouGen competition overall and being titled as the best new makeup artist by Simon Cowell, chose by Pixiwoo and appearing on Buzzfeed, the Daily Mail. It just is absolutely surreal! In my personal life I think that I've overcome obstacles that prevented me to forgive people in my life, past and present. That is definitely something I'm proud of. I'm proud of who I'm becoming as a person.

Agnes: What would you advise a teenager wishing to do Youtube? Joseph: Youtube is currently full of people doing the same thing, so be original and be unique. Don't put your energy into doing something to compete with someone else, use what's magical about yourself and take your time. Do things properly. And don't read the comments! People are crazy.
Agnes: What's your favourite quote? Joseph: If you're gonna stand out for something, make it look expensive. That's what my mum has shared with me, and I share with everyone else. Put your effort into what you do.

Agnes: Who is your biggest makeup inspiration? Joseph: As a makeup artist I look up to Kabuki, Pat McGrath, Charlotte Tilbury. My biggest inspirations of the past however, have to be Way Bandy, Kevyn Aucoin and Serge Lutons. I recently was in Paris and the Serge Lutons store gave me a sample of one of each of all their perfumes, I was absolutely blown away. I'm going to be doing a look for halloween to say thankyou so keep posted! Visually I look up to people like Mathu Andersen and Zaldy, Leigh Bowery, the 90s Supermodels. I spent all my spare time growing up searching old forums and life journals and that weird yahoo geocities for photos of all these inspirational and beautiful looking creatures and I had a collage of them on my wall. I definitely take inspiration from everything but my interpretation is always my own and I think I'm inspired by myself more than anything.
Agnes: Your Top 5 makeup products? Joseph: Estee Lauder Doublewear, I've been wearing it since it launched. Dermacolor Concealers, I use them for everything. Their powders too. Max Factor 2000 Calories Mascara. I love Shu Uemura Face Architect Cream Foundation with their Loose Powder in Pink 200 too, but that's long discontinued sadly. And Joseph Harwood Cosmetics #comingsoon. My brushline is exceptional, Japanese quality products completely self funded, self designed and self promoted! I can't WAIT to show everyone off!!

Agnes: What's your opinion on social media and how much does it affect your life? Joseph: Social media is an amazing concept, it's a great way to not only share your life but it's fascinating to watch. The negatives definitely consist of the speed in which things are now digested. Everything is in, then out. Then in, then out. It creates a strange tolerance in people where there's constantly a need to shock with something even more. I'm thankful more than life that I was born in the early 90s because I didn't look like the norm, I grew up being mistaken for the gender I was not assigned at birth and being able to see other people in the world whilst I was growing up, was a reassurance to me. It's also a job, it has been extremely lucrative. #shewon
Agnes: If you had a chance to work with one person who would it be and why? What type of co-workers do you appreciate the most? Joseph: I would love to work with Lauryn Hill as I think she's such an inspiration to me. In whatever capacity even if I get to beat her mug. I also love Lil Kim I would kill to do her makeup. I work with so many people in different environments it's always good to be part of a team, and not bring your ego with you to work.
Agnes: Do drag queens just want to be women or do you think they just find it more interesting to transform into a lady because of its versatility of options? Joseph: Drag is dressed as girl. Normally for a performance, a club, a concept. However, drag is an art form that every single person plays with. I think the gender transformation is something we're fascinated by because it's against our nature as a culture, we love to box things into one or the other where as this is the ability to be both things at once. It's also beautiful and sparkly and catches attention. When it comes to a persons gender, it really has nothing to do with what they do, just who they are.

Agnes: How do you stay so down to earth and humble? Which quality in people do you appreciate the most? Joseph: I recently realized that through social media I come across without intonation so my humor is lost, when I'm drunk and marching around pretending to be Linda Evangelista, it's with a pinch of salt. I'm a 6' 2 man in 6 inch heels, it's funny. But when you see a well lit photo typing something the intonation comes across meaner than it should so I'm learning to be more balanced. I'm clumsy and I don't take things that seriously so for me it's just about being myself, and listening to a good read if you need to hear it. My mum also keeps me down to earth.

Thank you so much for your questions! <3
Please follow me across my social media below.

I'm very thankful and honored to had a chance to interview Joseph. You just gotta be ridiculous enough to try.
Here is my favourite makeup tutorial:

I hope you liked this interview. It would mean the world to me to hear your feedback about it. I read every single comment :)

Thank you for reading,
x Agnes

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