Sandra S Yang is a hair and makeup artist in Toronto working specifically on advertising, fashion and corporate photoshoots. With the agency Judy Inc. she also does media tours with actors, musicians and professional athletes who are in town for press junkets. She knew in highschool that she wanted to be on this career pathl. Even though she barely wore makeup in high school, her hair was always done.
Bangstyle was lucky enough to interview Sandra about her styling, her inspirations, and her advice for you!
How Sandra got started:
The thing that drew me to hair was that in Toronto, if you want to work in the industry, you have to know how to do both hair and makeup. In Toronto, they do not classify hair and makeup as seperate entities which is a shame because it is two entirely different disciplines. However, I happen to love doing both :) Hair has been a huge part of my life since I was a child. I was always trying to be on trend whether it was having chunky bangs with a bowl cut to the perm of the eighties with mall bangs. I totally had the “Rachel” hair and rocked it!. I also had spice girl highlights a la Ginger spice:) I have done everything that's anything to my hair. I'm currently growing out my LOB and brought back a swept bang. My current colour technique hair painting. Believe it or not Ii had Ombre hair over 20 years ago before people starting doing it here hah!
My favourite hair technique I use is saturating hair with product before styling. It doesn’t seem like a fancy technique but let me tell you, it's important and something I find a lot of hair artist skip before directly using a hot tool on the hair. If you want your hair to hold and hold the way you want it, use products like root boost, mousse etc. to help. I firmly believe hair is like a cat, if you over play with it, it will not cooperate. It will only do what it allows you to do, you have to respect the hair you have in your hands. If a cat doesn’t want to be pet anymore it will swat at you and walk away, if a hair doesn’t want to be styled it will go limp or frizz out and basically say #byefelicia.
I don’t know if I have had a huge defining moment in my career just yet. I work with the most amazing photographers, makeup artists, hairstylists, wardrobe stylist and of course CLIENTS! Having that, and continuing to build is what I can call a defining moment. In terms of a specific job, I’m the worst with my memory - All the jobs I have done have been amazing!
Your Creative Process?
The creative process that occurs is first; the collaboration with the team and what their thoughts are. I always look at the clothes that are being shot and talk with the stylist about each piece and feel them for their texture because that will also help me know how I want the texture of the hair to be seen. I look at the mood board and what type of lighting we are planning on. Then I chat with the makeup artist and ask their thoughts on their creative process. I feed off all of this - Somehow, I can see what the final product will be like and I work backwards from there by deconstructing it in my head. When I create hair styles, it is a step by step process, hair has to be constructed like a building would; you lay your foundation and use your tools. If the makeup artist is going to do an amazing look, I want the hair to compliment it and not attack it for attention. Im a firm believer of respecting the artistic integrity of my peers.
Bangstyle has been a fabulous inspiration board for me. There are also specific artists I follow on social media. I’m fortunate to have friends who are session stylists for the big shows, they work on Guido Palau team or Sam Mcknights team all around the world and their work inspires me. Other makeup artists inspire me for the techniques I have seen them do. There is one hair artist in particular who i LOVE! Ryoji Imaizumi is his name. He creates the most magnificent hair pieces and hair styles. I LOVE his work. He is my inspiration if I have to name someone specific. His social media is one I stalk on a regular basis.
Also I look at nature. I did a shoot a LONG time ago bringing elements of nature as hair. Twigs and vines mixed in for hair as strands, Spanish moss into an afro - Sadly I cannot find any of those photo's, it was when i first stared out.
Creating a Successful Shoot?
I am such a believer in superstitions, I still get nervous on big shoots, which is normal but I never show it. I usually wear a demin shirt….I own 8 like it's my uniform. I actually never wear black…maybe off black, grey, but never just all black. Before the shoot I practice what I want to do on a judy head. My judy head has gotten me some great gigs, I can not live without it when planning a specific hair look. If I can get a live person to practice on, that is always better, but usually its me at home with the judy head. I won’t drink coffee the morning of a big shoot or will eat a big breakfast, I usually make a veg juice or smoothie. My mind needs to be focused on the task, I don’t need it boosted with caffeine or slowed down by digestion.
Can't live without?
Personally one product/tool I cannot live without…..1 1/4 curing iron. I LOVE my curing iron - I cannot imagine my life without one! This specific size is not too big and not too small. I always have back up curling irons when mine die out.
My superpower would be flight! I would never have to be in traffic! I wouldn’t have to rely on any mode of transportation! I would get to and from places with ease.
The huge visionaries in the session styling world are major influences. Even those with other agencies are influences. Again my personal fav is Ryoji.
There are also two who were my biggest influencers. Both are/were hair artists. I assisted them when I first stared my career. Andrea Claire and Kenny are their names. Both brought different ways of teaching. I learned how this industry functioned. Whether it was a positive or negative experience, it was an experience that had to have happened. I am forever grateful for that. I love them both!
The biggest accomplishment is constantly working! HAH! Any freelance artist knows that's where you want to be, consistent work based on talent.
I am also a makeup artist. As a child I use to sketch clothing. I wanted to be a clothing designer. Now I have hobbies that are opposite of the arts world. I love Stand up paddle boarding and riding my bike around the city. I love working out. I LOVE eating!!!! I search for awesome food places. I need that balance in my life with artistic and non artistic things
Advice to Your Younger Self?
If I could talk to my younger self I would tell her to have more confidence. I find a lot of people will try and bring you down. Everyone has an opinion. Surround yourself with positive people who genuinely have the best intentions for you. You are worth more than words trying to knock you down. Always follow your gut, you will not have your career destroyed by one persons opinion. Your world doesn’t revolve around the actions of others, it revolves around your actions. Don’t let ego get in the way of learning. Ego will block your path.
Advice to Others?
The advice I would offer the next generation is: be open to learn. You are not an expert right out of the gate. Mistakes will happen, learn from them. Enjoy the love of hair, it's amazing. Doing something for free is not necessarily a bad thing, you do free things to build your experience. Assist as much as you can while working on your own career. This line of work is about learning. You never stop learning. Hair university is never over. Most of all be nice. A nice pleasant personality will get you further in the long run than a horrid personality from the start. Things take time so don’t give up, there is a reason why its called building a career. If you are in it for fame, look at the reasons why that is. I’m not knocking it if you are, just know what comes with that.
Be sure to stalk Sandra on Bangstyle to see all of her latest creations!