Even if by some chance you haven't heard the name Sam Visser, you certainly know his work. You've seen his immaculate, meticulous makeup designs on every model and It-girl from Paris to L.A. You've seen it in magazines, on red carpets, album covers and music videos, and featured on the timelines of everyone from Ariana Grande to Alexa Demie to Janet Mock and Bella Hadid. One quick scan of Visser's tagged Instagram photos and you'll see his disciples number in the thousands, quick to tag him in fan art, recreations, and inspired interpretations of some of his signature looks. And they're not just into his makeup, either. Visser has carved out a glossy, gritty aesthetic that presents itself in the DNA of everything he touches, from broader creative concepts to the actual makeup itself, and how he chooses to document and present his perspective on beauty. Is it any wonder there are those who call him the next Kevyn Aucoin?
In coming months, we'll see even more from 21-year-old Visser as he steps into a new position with the legendary house of Dior as their newest US Makeup Ambassador. The role will allow Visser to take on even more eye-popping projects and daring red carpet moments, all under the masterful watch of Peter Philips, the Dior Creative Director who just completed a 360-degree overhaul of the brand's most iconic products.
To celebrate this match made in visual heaven, we're rounding up everything to know about Visser, the most noteworthy name in makeup.
He Started (Very) Young
Visser began his formal career at an unbelievable 12 years old, when a chance encounter at a Make Up For Ever boutique in Los Angeles brought him his first gig: assisting and observing photographer David LaChapelle on-set. As a child, he hoarded knowledge about the industry's power players, techniques, and reference points with the same fervor other kids collected Pokemon cards. "Every Saturday I'd go to the MAC counter by my house and just watch," he told Vogue in 2019. "I was an only child, and instead of playing with siblings or friends, I’'d lock myself in my bedroom and just play with makeup."
The Kardashians Helped Kickstart His Career
We can't just credit Kris Jenner with launching her children (and their children) into the pop culture stratosphere; she's also partially responsible for Visser's real big break. Visser was a high school sophomore when he was offered a trial makeup session with Kris herself. Not only did they immediately hit it off, eventually leading him to leave traditional school to focus on his career, she introduced him to a number of industry power players that changed the course of his life.
He Makes House Calls
If you live at the House of Hadid, anyway. Visser doesn't keep his skills reserved for just avant-garde magazine spreads. Some of his buzziest work sprang from more casual circumstances, like parties and events. He does personal event makeup for some of his top celebrity clients and friends, including special looks for the birthdays of Bella Hadid, Lily-Rose Depp, and Kylie Jenner.
He's His Own Canvas
When he's not etching liner onto the lids of Kaia Gerber and Hari Nef pre-catwalk, Visser plays around with concept and color where he can—including his own face. Just after lockdown commenced in spring 2020, he debuted this self-styled look he refers to as "SILVER SPIRIT METALLIC MANIA." He's told Vogue something of an alter ego materializes when he plays both artist and model: "It's a character that just comes out when I put makeup on."
You Really Have Seen His Work Everywhere
Because so much of Visser's editorial makeup is so high-concept and arresting, it's easy to forget just how ubiquitous his other work has become. He's done makeup for a slew of KKW Beauty campaigns, MAC digital and print ads, and even modern pop culture touchstones like Ariana Grande's Thank U, Next album cover and corresponding shoot.
He's Also a Photographer
Much of Visser's intoxicating digital aesthetic can be credited to his distinct film photography style. Eschewing the sharp, high-def capture on an iPhone camera, Visser shoots on film and with Polaroids. "I also feel like there's some magic that happens between between the moment a photo is taken and the moment it prints out and dries," a then-19-year-old Visser told Rose Inc. "You never know what you're going to get. I feel the same about video. Any video that you see on my Instagram, that's all shot on tape. It's magical: the imperfections, the graininess, there's a mystery to it. Sometimes it glitches out, sometimes it's a little off in color, but that's what makes it cool."
If it feels like Sam Visser does it all, that's because it's true. And if all of this can be accomplished in just eight years, most of which spent as a teenager, thinking about Visser's future is a nearly impossible task. We'd say the sky's the limit, but Visser's already in space.