My Instagram: Isaac Willnow -The Boston Globe

Isaac Willnow



Neon colors and harsh lines decorate the feed — and the face — of Isaac Willnow, 24, from Hamilton. Now living in Boston, Willnow has turned his personal Instagram @isaacdvniel into a place to show off his makeup skills, both on himself and on others. From painting a Picasso onto his face to enhancing the beauty of a unibrow, Willnow has earned a following of makeup artists and lovers alike. The Northeastern University grad took time out to chat with the Globe about his look and persona on IG.

Q. What inspired you to start doing crazy makeup looks?

A. I started doing makeup because I was heavily involved in singing and performance and competitive a cappella in college. I was our music director and our brand manager and I wanted to put together some videos and shoots and refine our public image. I was always kind of interested in it. I got my first color palette, like a watercolor palette, and I would have these images pop into my head based on things I’d see day-to-day and I’d sit down and doodle them out on my face.

Q. Do you have a favorite look you like to do?

A. I really love geometric shapes and minimalism. I started by doing the impressionist, brush stroke looks, but recently I’ve been wanting to push myself more to do structural, geometric shapes. I’ve seen a lot of that bold graphic design at fashion week, especially triangles! My favorites are between the red and yellow geometric looks and then the picasso, cubism inspired series that I did.

Q. You have a persona in your captions and comment sections. Is that Isaac Willnow talking or someone else?

A. When I’m with my friends or by myself, I’m very kooky and super strange. I love to make jokes. Isaac means laughter, so I’m obsessed with making people laugh and sometimes the looks that I do are harsh or severe, and sometimes I come across as intimidating. I don’t want it to come across like I’m taking myself too seriously, so that’s why in the captions I’ll call it a “face-doodle” and I try to caption the looks with a pun. It’s just fun — I’m not saving the world or anything, it’s just an outlet for me that has meant a lot to me and that I love doing, and I want that to show through in my work.

Q. On your feed, you mostly paint your own face, but sometimes feature others. Which do you prefer?

A. I prefer to do makeup on other people, especially on models. It’s taking someone who is already gorgeous and doing such little, refined things to make them just as gorgeous but in a different way to bring out their qualities. It’s a totally different process than what I do on myself, which is me, in my room watching Harry Potter, and being wacky. It also takes hours — the Picasso looks took anywhere from six to 11 hours.

Q. Currently, you have a defined mustache and in some shots thick brows as well. Can you describe your androgynous style?

A. It’s my favorite thing. My bone structure itself is very harsh. I have a big overhanging brow and sharp cheekbones, which I love, and that is masculine in a way. I sometimes find the insta-glam formula to be boring so when I started doing makeup on myself it was a creative outlet. The unibrow look was so interesting, and weirdly sexy in a way. I saw it on New York Fashion Week and I found it so interesting. People who are objectively beautiful and then adding traditionally ugly elements to them was interesting.

Q. After you do your makeup and take photos, do you ever wear the look out or do you wash it all away?

A. I take it off as soon as possible! It has nothing to do with being embarrassed to wear them, even the weird looks, but it’s so cumbersome to have all that on your face. I wear makeup out, but as grooming-style makeup, like fixing my brows or adding bronzer. I view makeup as a grooming thing, and that every boy and every male could and should wear it for grooming purposes. Just like if you have a nice, new ironed shirt, why would you not cover up a big zit or if you have nice cheekbones, why not contour them?

Q. Do you interact with the IG makeup community?

A. Yeah. I will say that it’s pretty tough to grow a following. The majority of my followers know me from my singing in college, so I didn’t want to inundate them with a ton of hashtags, but recently, some of my looks have gained some traction and now I have a groupchat on IG and we tell each other when we post something new and reach out for tips and that’s cool.

Sophie Cannon can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @the_grandCannon

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