Sydnee Smith, Reporter
Ryan Potter is a Pierce College Puyallup alumnus, makeup artist and social media influencer with 339,000 Instagram followers at the time of this publication. Potter was a Running Start student and graduated from Pierce last summer with his associate of arts and his high school diploma from Orting High School. Shortly after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a makeup artist.
Aside from his Instagram account, Potter also has a YouTube channel where he films makeup tutorials, challenges, testing products and some more personal videos about his life. Potter first started getting into makeup when he was about 15 or 16.
“My friend, she did my makeup just for fun one time, and I don’t know, it kind of kick-started something in me,” Potter said. “The first makeup product I ever bought was a brow pencil. From there I just started getting more and more products.”
Potter noted he tried to hide the fact that he was wearing makeup from his mom. But one day after he locked himself in his bedroom to do his brows, his mom called him out. Potter also stated how lucky he was that both his mom and stepdad were supportive and accepting.
“I wasn’t scared going to school with just foundation, but definitely when I started getting into eyeshadow and lashes. Coming from a town like Orting, it’s not super common,” Potter said. “But I didn’t really wear makeup out in public, usually I would do it for videos. Eventually it got to the point where it was kind of like a, ‘Whatever, I don’t really care so much, but it definitely took a while to get to that point.’”
Potter did feel more free at Pierce though.
He felt as though the culture was different because everyone was from different backgrounds and didn’t really know each other, so he never felt scared to be himself. Pierce is where Potter started to explore makeup the most, adding to why he loved attending Pierce
“I remember posting my first makeup picture and I texted my friends like, ‘I’m about to do it. I’m really nervous, should I do this?’ I eventually did it and I kind of just got into the swing of it,” Potter said. “I started to see more guys do it and I was like ‘Yeah, I could try this.’ I never really thought I could make a job out of it, and then my Instagram continued to grow.”
Due to the growth on his Instagram account, Potter started to post more creative and fun looks. His favorite being one he did in October 2017 for Halloween. The look is based of a lyric in the song Tennis Court by Lorde. Half his face is a clown, while the other half is a crying beauty queen.
He has enjoyed seeing the community grow, especially with other guys putting their makeup online. Potter thinks it’s cool to be about to see their work and their art online for others to see too. He mentioned Instagram as a big influencer in the movement. Because people are able to reach such a wide audience Potter thinks it helps people become more accepting.
“There’s people from different countries and different states and different cultures to try to open up to this idea that everyone can wear makeup,” Potter said.
Before makeup, Potter had started his YouTube and Instagram account. His Instagram account was a regular personal account. On his YouTube channel he tried posting challenge videos and story times. His YouTube was rebuilt as his Instagram grew and he geared it towards makeup. Potter wanted to start his YouTube again because it was more personal and interactive for him.
Due to the popularity of his Instagram account and YouTube channel, Potter moved to L.A. right after high school. He was thankful to sign with a manager a month before moving, making his transition easier. He saw L.A. as the best place for his career because most makeup companies are stationed there.
In L.A., Potter has had the opportunity to work with Benefit Cosmetics. Potter is the face of their dandelion twinkle highlighter and is featured in Sephora, his favorite opportunity thus far.
“It’s really weird, I just went and saw it in April. It was a super weird like surreal feeling to go and see the Sephora that I would literally always go to after work or after school and see my face there,” Potter said.
Potter was still able to attend Pierce while working on social media and makeup because it is something he could do from home. The only time he encountered a conflict was when he attended Coachella in 2017 with ELF Cosmetics. It was also finals week at Pierce. He was taking all online courses for his last quarter, but noted he had to be working on finals at Coachella.
“I was doing my nutrition homework and I was in my room like ‘Guys, I’ll be out in a minute,’” Potter said.
Potter has been in times where he wondered if everything he was doing has paid off, especially while in L.A. with so many other talented individuals.
But he’s excited to be doing something unconventional with so many different avenues to take. He hopes to one day work for a cosmetic company or start his own brand.
“I think it’s cool that brands are seeing (guys wearing makeup) and recognizing that we can advertise makeup just as well as women can,” Potter said. “I think, even more so, it draws attention to their brand and I think brands are starting to pick up on that and utilize it.”
Outside of social media, Potter has been enjoying going to escape rooms and getting ideas for makeup looks from music he’s been listening to.
His most recent music inspiration was Troye Sivan, as he created a look from his song Bloom. Although Potter knows social media isn’t forever, he hopes to continue in the industry and pursue his passions.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
With dreams of becoming an English or Journalism teacher, Smith hopes to transfer to WWU
next fall to pursue her Bachelor's and hopefully Master's degree. Her ultimate goal is to one day become a professor.
On the side, Smith enjoys writing poetry and attending concerts. She tries to play the guitar and ukulele, but ultimately can only play one song all the way through.
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