In 2009, a young Gebriel Padan completed his studies in Limbang. Left with little options, he started working in a friend’s wedding boutique to earn an honest income. Fast forward 11 years later, he is now a renowned makeup artist and beauty consultant, and a household name within the Malaysian entertainment scene.
No need for stereotypes
Gebriel Padan admitted his journey into the world of make-up was totally unexpected. The 30-year-old revealed that he used to dream of becoming a doctor. However, due to the work environment he was exposed to after his Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM), the dream slipped away from his hands.
In a recent interview with New Sarawak Tribune, Gebriel said that his journey in the industry started in 2009 at his friend’s wedding boutique. “I started working there right after I finished Form Six. I had no choice since Limbang was a small town with scarce job opportunities. There, I always see my friend doing makeup for clients, and curiosity got the best of me. I tried it, and from then on, my interest grew.
“During my time at the boutique, everyone there was sort of artistic in their own way. As for me, I’ve always had interest in arts since I was young, I just love to draw,” Gebriel said.
The following year, the Lun Bawang lad decided to move to Kuala Lumpur, in search of greener pastures. “I received an offer to work under Nurul Shukor and my first task was as a shampoo boy. Nurul was Siti Nurhaliza’s personal makeup artist, hence it was such an honour for me at the time,” Gebriel added.
Under Nurul, Gebriel was exposed to different makeup techniques, despite not being a makeup artist at the time. “I saw how she would apply makeup on her clients, and when I went home, I would try it myself and practice. My female cousin worked under Nurul as well, and she was the canvas for my experiments.”
Working for a renowned makeup artist, an opportunity soon presented itself to Gebriel. He shared that one day, actress Erin Malek visited Nurul’s boutique looking for a makeover. “At the time, there were no available artists in the premises. I told her that if she wanted a session, she could make a reservation. She then asked me if I could do her makeup then and there, and I confidently said yes!”
It was his first experience painting a client’s face. “Once I was done, she left without saying a word. The next day, she called the boutique and wanted to speak to Nurul. At that moment, I was nervous to my bones as I thought Erin was calling in to complain.
“Erin wanted another session in Nurul’s boutique, but as it turns out, she wanted me to do it, as she loved my artwork!” Gebriel exclaimed. Right after the phone call, Nurul started giving him lessons on the proper technique of doing makeup and hair.
In 2011, Gebriel returned to Kuching, Sarawak to work under the popular makeup franchise MAC. Four years later, he was offered a job as a Senior Beauty Consultant at skincare boutique Etude House. “During my time there, I learned the steps and correct techniques for proper skincare.”
Overall, his experiences and knowledge gained in numerous places shaped him to be where he is today. A competent, talented makeup professional, Gebriel had worked his magic on numerous famous faces including Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 Fransisca Luhong James, Alena Murang, Nora Danish, Jihan Muse, Sharifah Sakinah and many others.
Despite being in the industry for 11 years, Gebriel admitted that he still feels nervous whenever he was booked to do makeup, especially with clients that he has never met. “But it doesn’t last long, and it is not too severe as when I first started. Now, I prefer to speak and share stories with my clients while my hands are working. This way, I can learn more about them too.”
Throughout his time in the industry, the award-winning makeup artist conceded that there will always be challenges no matter where he goes. “In terms of competition, it is undeniable that the industry is large. To me, I have to always stay alert to keep up with the trends.”
As the founder of Gebriel Padan Artistry Studio — his makeup and hair boutique — the artist also hires several individuals under his creative team. “It’s a great thing to have a team by your side. We would often discuss and exchange ideas to keep ahead in the industry.”
Aside from that, Gebriel laments about the unprecedented threat of the Covid-19 outbreak. “The pandemic had definitely affected the economic sector, especially small businesses such as ours, for the worse. The beauty industry was badly hit. Most of our clients are brides, hence most of my appointments last year were either cancelled or postponed.”
Asked about society’s perceptionof the makeup industry being a feminine profession, Gebriel answered that it has always been the norm and it is hard to challenge that perception.
“In my opinion, no matter what field we are in, we don’t need to stereotype it to one gender. What’s important is that space and opportunity are given to an individual to work, and grow their ability in their field of interest.”
Now based in Kuala Lumpur, Gebriel revealed that he and his team are in the process to produce a skincare product based on Bario rice, Bario mountain salt and bird’s nest.
Under his brand Oryza Skincare, Gebriel will be working with several Malaysian celebrities as brand ambassadors for his products. “At the same time, a friend and I also plan to open a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, specialising in food from Borneo,” he added.
Gebriel Padan’s Awards and Achievements
— Winner of the Best Styling Category for the Buenos Aires Music Video Festival 2020 in Argentina
— Lun Bawang Youth Award 2018 for Business and Entrepreneur Category by Persatuan Belia Lun Bawang Negeri Sarawak
— 1st Runner-up for The Makeup Artist Award 2017 under the Makeup Artistry Category by Wedding and Portrait Photography Asia (WPPA)
— Special Award Entrepreneurial Achievement 2017 by Persatuan Lun Bawang Negeri Sarawak (PLBS)
— Awarded the Recognition of Outstanding Achievements for Originality and Technical Excellence in Makeup Artistry by Wedding and Portrait Photography Asia (WPPA) 2016
— Best Makeup Artist in Makeup Artist Category by Sarawak Fashion Award 2016
— Ikon Belia Peringkat Negeri Sarawak 2016 for Entrepreneur Category