Patrick Ta's world is glamorous and glitzy. As one of the most in-demand makeup artists, the 31-year-old spends his days touching the faces of Hollywood's biggest celebrities. This month alone, he's been traveling across France, working with everyone from Adriana Lima to Eva Longoria. In between client appointments, Ta also juggles his responsibilities as the co-founder of the flourishing makeup brand Patrick Ta Beauty. Needless to say, he is the epitome of a beauty boss.
However, Ta's path to becoming the makeup mogul he is today was far from linear. Growing up, the San Diego native lacked confidence and was unsure of his place in the world. "Little Patrick was insecure," he says. "I grew up in a predominately Caucasian area, and I was made fun of in high school. I was overweight, gay, and Asian. My family was also very academically-inclined, and I didn't do well in school. I ended up dropping out of high school."
In pursuit of personal and professional clarity, Ta decided to relocate to Arizona at 17. There, he discovered his love of beauty. "My roommate was a makeup artist, and she was my introduction to this whole industry," Ta says. While he dabbled in makeup, he ultimately decided to open a tanning and nail salon. Though he was forced to shut down the business when he was 21, Ta's determination to succeed never wavered. He set his sights on Los Angeles and shifted his attention toward building an artistry career.
Ahead, Ta opens up about his career evolution, the eye-opening lessons he's learned as an MUA, and the importance of self-care as a creative.
You became an entrepreneur at an early age. What was it like running a tanning and nail salon at 18?
My mom used to own a bunch of nail salons. That's what she knew and how she made a life for our family. So, I convinced my mom and dad to help me open up a tanning and nail salon in Arizona. They were very popular at the time. I fully believed in myself and knew I could do this. But looking back, I honestly can't believe my mom and dad did that for me. I probably wouldn't do it if I had an 18-year-old son who dropped out of high school and told me he wanted $200,000 to open up a salon.
I'm so grateful my parents helped me though. I wanted to prove to myself, my family, and peers that I could do something. In the beginning, my salon did very well. And because of that, I was able to learn so much at such a young age. However, we had to foreclose on it because I couldn't afford to pay my lease anymore.
With my salon closing and having to file bankruptcy at the age of 21, it was such a big disappointment for myself and my parents. When I moved to L.A., I knew I couldn't disappoint them or myself again.
When you moved to L.A., what was your plan?
I definitely didn't come to L.A. to become a celebrity makeup artist. I didn't even know that makeup could be a full-time career. I was making a decent amount of money, but I got thrown into this world of social media and working with celebrities. I started to realize I could do something with this and saw it as the perfect career choice. I went to work every day, and it didn't feel like work. When you love something, I feel like it makes everything better.
What was it like trying to build your client roster in L.A.?
Because of social media, I met most of my clients. Shay Mitchell, Kim Kardashian, and Ariana Grande found me on social media. It was a huge platform for me as someone who wasn't represented by an agency. Social media was my portfolio. I was particular about what I was posting and the style of makeup I was doing. When I wanted to work with the Kardashians, I did super glam makeup. When I wanted to work with models, I showcased more toned-down looks.
Do you have any memorable moments with any of your celebrity clients?
One of the most memorable moments was working with Joan Smalls for the MTV Music Awards. It was one of my first times working with a supermodel. My style of makeup was a lot heavier back then. So, I bought new makeup to make her look natural and fresh. When I finished, I thought, This is the most natural makeup I've ever done. When she looked at herself, she felt it was way too much makeup and started wiping it off.
That day taught me I need to expand my thought process when doing makeup. Now, I always ask my clients, "What's natural to you?" I still work with Joan, and now she wears more makeup. But at the time, she was coming from high fashion, where the makeup is usually so natural.
What are some of the other lessons you've learned as an MUA?
When I started my career, I would look at other makeup artists and try to copy their looks. But, I would never love what I created because I would always compare it to the other person's photo. It wasn't until I stopped comparing myself that I began to think my work was beautiful. It's important to be original and find your own style. I always encourage my clients and the people who buy my makeup to try new things and be their own artists.
Let's talk about Patrick Ta Beauty. How did you feel on launch day in 2019?
On launch day, there was a feeling of pure excitement. We worked on the brand for about two years before we launched. When I was able to show my community what I was working on, it felt really good. We threw a big launch party, and I invited my clients, friends, and family. As a makeup artist, you work with so many celebrities and help them get ready for their big day. Seeing my clients show up for me instead was such a win. Seeing that people wanted my products was a really good feeling. I felt so much love that night.
How do you approach product development?
When I was first building my kit, I didn't have the money to build the kit I have today. But I remember buying my first high-end powder and cherishing it. With Patrick Ta Beauty, I want to make products that capture that feeling and make people feel special. As someone who is still a working makeup artist, I'm constantly learning new techniques on set. So, I always want to create innovative products. I also prefer to launch little collections rather than an entire line. I'm not the brand that will come out with 20 lipsticks at once.
What's next for the brand?
I want to continue to amplify our amazing products. Our latest launch was the Major Dimension II Rose Eyeshadow Palette. We were the number one SKU in Sephora during the month we launched. That was wild to me because there are thousands of products at Sephora. I feel good about where we're at because we basically have a full range of products. But there are really exciting things in the works. I think you're going to see complexion makeup from us this year.
With everything you have going on, how do you practice self-care?
My whole life in L.A. has been about work. It wasn't until this past year that I was able to slow down and enjoy time off. After getting a little glimpse of that, I realized I need to sit back and recharge sometimes. You're pouring from an empty cup if you work every day without rest. Traveling, meeting new people, and immersing myself in different cultures is self-care for me. Whenever I travel, I come back and look at things differently.