You might be familiar with Pony’s videos and Instagram page (@ponysmakeup) but how well do you really know her? We grilled our July cover star about early beginnings, vlogging hardships and that Taylor Swift video.
Tell us about how you discovered makeup when you were young.
Since I was young, I grew up watching my mother putting on makeup in front of me. It’s not the case now, but in the past, my mother was beautician, so I was brought up with the mindset that not only makeup, but skincare is important too.
Who were your first beauty inspirations?
As I mentioned before, since I grew up watching my mother put on makeup, my first inspiration can’t be anyone else but her. Maybe for others, it might be a princess in a manhwa (comic) or movie, but my first driving force was my mother.
Before learning more about beauty and makeup, did you try any makeup trends that didn’t go well and you regretted?
When I was a student, smokey eyes first became trendy in Korea. I went to the beauty store and bought matte black eyeshadow. Even though I had practised the smokey eye effect, it wasn’t as easy as I thought and it looked like [I applied] coal on my eyes. But I’ve never regretted such experiences.
How closely do you think the beauty and fashion worlds are linked?
Face and body – if those two sections are not balanced, I think you won’t be able to achieve a perfect outfit. Other than the bare-faced concept, fashion and makeup are closely related. Even when it comes to looking pure, you can’t go sans makeup – you need makeup that makes you “look pure”!
What do you love the most about makeup?
When I arrive in another country, depending on several factors, I get inspiration from the country’s fashion, trends, culture, weather, etc. Of course, Korean girls love our “Korean-ness”, but I can get new ideas from these things compared to what I already know.
Since you were young, did you always dream of becoming a makeup artist and working in the beauty industry?
I’ve had three dreams up till now. When I was very young till when I was in primary school, my dream was to become a singer. From elementary school to high school, I wanted to be an illustrator. Lastly, I wanted to be a makeup artist. When I was young, beauty was my hobby but I had no interest in making it a career. At that time, I liked music and drawing. Even now, I still like those pursuits.
How did you get approached to write your first book?
Managing a personal homepage is very hard. From my daily photos to taking charge of my own makeup, hair and outfits, and taking the photographs and art direction, [I had to do it all]. I started taking photos as a hobby and for my portfolio, but they started to become popular, and so a publisher approached me and I published my first book.
Did you make a conscious choice to go by the name “Pony”?
Actually, I didn’t start using “Pony” only after I entered the beauty industry. I had the nickname “pony” (in Korean) since the third year of high school. My friends thought my personality was lively like My Little Pony, so it became my nickname. So when I was creating a nickname, I thought of my past nickname. In English, “Pony” sounds good, is easy to remember and fits my concept.
What do you think of the popular trend of contouring a la Kim Kardashian?
Lately, contouring is becoming more popular in Korea now. I think Kim Kardashian’s contouring style is an especially good one to try when you want to transform yourself. For those who haven’t tried contouring, while trying it, you can identify the contours of your face.
How do you think makeup gives people confidence? Do you think it is important to be confident without makeup?
A face full of makeup and a face without makeup has different charms. When you apply makeup, you can cover your imperfections and highlight your good parts to exude a charm that’s different from your usual self. On the other hand, for some people, wearing even a bit of makeup is like wearing clothes that don’t match. For those people, not wearing makeup gives them more confidence. Of course, if you prefer your face when you’re wearing makeup, then you’ll feel more confident after you put makeup on.
Being in beauty seems so glamourous, why are some of the challenges/sacrifices that people don’t know about?
Even when it comes to writing a book, taking a photo or video, it all takes a toll on your skin. At first, my skin was quite resistant but now, it’s become very sensitive. And because I always have to film using a strong light, I’m concerned about the condition of my eyes.
What is your favourite part of your makeup routine?
I like to settle my complexion (base makeup) and contouring before I do eye and lip makeup. Once I apply the base makeup and contouring, I feel more confident to do the rest of my makeup, and can happily complete my makeup because the preview looks good.
One of your recent videos, a Taylor Swift inspired look, has over 7 million views. What was that experience like for you?
Truthfully, I never thought it would get so big and receive a lot of attention when I was producing the video. Because it involves a transformation, I practised it five times to prepare for filming. Since I put in a lot of effort, I think my hard work paid off when I get such a great response.
You’ve already written books, launched a makeup line and gone viral online – are there any dreams or goals you have that you haven’t achieved yet?
The title of makeup artist is very significant, but I don’t want “Pony” to be tied to only makeup. In future, I want Pony to be recognised in various aspects, not just makeup. Truthfully, it’s a big dream, and a big step, and I’m not sure in what other aspects I wish to be recognised. My dream is to conquer more possibilities.
Pony’s answers have been translated from Korean to English.