More than 2 million people want to know what Patrick Starrr has to say about makeup. That’s how many people subscribe to his YouTube channel, which is a hodgepodge of makeup transformations that range from the practical (a prom makeup tutorial) to the mind-bending (like when he turned into Kylie Jenner). The Cut caught up with the “It” boy of social-media makeup artists to discuss how he rocketed to internet fame and what it’s like working in the super-competitive world of YouTube makeup artists.
Everyone has an origin story. What’s yours?
I was obsessed with reality television growing up, and I was inspired by it. The Swan, Extreme Makeover, makeover stories like that. Later on, when I was into photography, I was Photoshopping makeup on an image and I thought if I were to quit Photoshopping and actually do makeup it would cut my post-production time in half. I started to do makeup, then hair, and then I started doing a hair, makeup, and photography package for weddings. By the time I was 17, I was an entrepreneur. I eventually got a job at M.A.C as a freelancer, or an on-call artist. I had a month without work after the holiday season one year, and that’s when I started my YouTube channel. I was 21.
What was the initial reaction to your YouTube channel?
My parents were like: “Why are you wasting money on this makeup?” But there was a niche community of makeup boys on social media who were really supportive. We’d have this camaraderie over being “M.A.C boys.” I had like 2,000 views in a couple of days after my first video, which was a lot to me at the time. What really popped off my channel was I met Talia Joy [Note: Talia Castellano was a popular YouTube makeup star who went by the username TaliaJoy18. She died in 2013 of a rare nerve cancer.] The crazy part is that she liked my video on her YouTube channel right before she passed away, and that was so emotional for me. Makeup was a wig for her, as makeup was a way for me to give confidence to other people. I think that if I, as a man, can do it and look somewhat decent and beautiful, then anyone can.
When Talia passed away — that’s when she was a CoverGirl — when you went to her channel, all you saw on her feed was: “TaliaJoy likes Patrick Starr’s video.” I think I gained 20,000 followers in like a month. My friend texted me: “It looks like Talia left you a gift.” That was very powerful.
What’s it like working with other majorly famous beauty gurus?
I met Manny, Desi Perkins, and Anastasia Beverly Hills at a trade show — all in one day. It was so eye-opening to me that finally there was a community in social media that got it. What’s powerful for me is that when I first started out, I learned that we needed to stick together because there was no one else like us in our industry at the time. It was very much a camaraderie. The magic instantly sparked when I met Manny and we became “the boys in makeup.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.