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A CUP OF QUESTIONS with Sofi Chernyak

Sofi Chernyak the founder of MAQUILLAR Studio


- You are a make-up artist who turned digital make-up artist and a studio founder. What is it that you do actually? How did you decide to make a shift?

- We are the creators of the nonexistent! Through our digital tools, we bring to life ideas that just cannot be otherwise realized due to the laws of physics. To put it simply, we make Instagram and TikTok filters. Yes, this does sound like a downgrade, I know!

But personally, I do not see them as such. For me turning to digital make-up from editorial work was a breath of fresh air. In a non-physical space, you have fewer limitations. Also, you are one of the first creators in the space, which gives you a great power of defining what the world will look like tomorrow.

- While browsing your social media, we noticed that a lot of your filters are very detailed. Is making intricate projects - your priority?

- Even though we are not the first studio to create beauty filters, we are one of the first to take digital makeup seriously, as a source of self-expression, not beautification. We believe in building stories with eyes, lips, and skin. We are also huge fans of creatively working with 3D which expands how we experience perfumes, glasses, jewelry, or even emotions digitally.

We aim to inspire not to impose. Our work is just as meticulous and exciting as the creation of advertising campaigns, but we make it all about its audience. People fall in love with the way they look in make-up they have never tried before or in the fantastical world they get to explore through Augmented Reality. This is why we so often see them speak about it and share it.

- So you see filters as another form of advertising for the brands? Does it really work for


- Thank you for such a great question! We were researching this idea for a while, but the revelation came just this winter. We made an experiment, a filter inspired by HBO Show Euphoria in a collaboration with my make-up artist friend J. Patrick (@jpatrickstudio). Imagine my excitement when we reached 150 thousand interactions and 2 million views in just two weeks! Such reach was phenomenal for the account which at the time had less than 2K followers.

I knew we were onto something because people could not get enough of recreating make-up from the effect and making videos with it. The secret sauce was that we designed this effect specifically for Reels. In our “Euphoria” effect you get immersed in the smoky party atmosphere where emotions take over. You can switch your look from a rich glamorous make-up with gems to a dramatic one with melted clumpy mascara and dark blue tears with a blink.

The video performances our filter inspired helped us go viral because creators saw it as a great template for their Reels.

Today the world is ruled by artists. Letting them create content inspired by your brand makes you one step ahead of others in the race for authentic inclusion and diversity. Because the interest towards individuals is genuine, the visibility for the brand at scale is sure to follow!

- You are one of the first make-up artists to “migrate” from the fashion to the tech world. What do you think is happening in the beauty industry today?

- Today major shifts in the digital beauty space come as no surprise. Three years ago, we only knew about Snapchat filters. Remember those dog ears and flower crowns? Today we design intricate projects with complex 3D objects and animations that seem so real or “super-real” that we see them blend into our worlds. Almost every major brand has already invested in making an Augmented Reality experience.

Only eight months ago, a few niche digital art rooms on Clubhouse discussed the notion of crypto art, while today, anyone who has even the slightest interest in trends added “NFT” into their vocabulary. And now we are on the new quest: Meta rebrand started the race for creating the first beauty Metaverse. Oh, Estée Lauder just did it last month. Sorry, you are late!

We are in the early days of AR and VR technologies becoming relevant. In all this “chasing” almost all of us did not understand what happened. We were caught by surprise. And we ask ourselves: Am I the only one not getting it? Is it just me who doesn’t care about the hype?

I will assure you you are not. We all secretly resist technological change while trying to get comfortable with these new ideas. So while you may feel like you are too late to the game, you are actually early. Looking forward, we will need to find a way to use technology sustainably, not just ride the hype wave. So prepare yourself to get more technically skilled and creative in the


- So if we still have a long way to go, how will technology influence the future of the beauty industry?

- My prediction is very optimistic. Do you remember beauty posts on Instagram in 2017? Those unwearable big stencil brows and unrealistically raised cut creases occupied the feed. We all thought that social media was the worst thing that could have happened to the quality of content in the beauty industry.

Today we have surely outgrown this idea. I saw the emergence of many artists whose sense of style, vigor, and power of creativity is matched to the well-known leaders of the “editorial” beauty

space. With other technologies, I bet the same thing will happen. The first adapters will pave the way for true talents that will see the digital space as their new creative medium, not just as a business opportunity. Digital creatives will become very interesting to watch in just a few years!

Sofi Chernyak @Sofi_nyc

Maquillar Studio @Maquillar.Studio

Models: Irina Antoshkina @antoshkinaaa, Katya Pan @pan.katt @pan.katt