In the BBC Three television series Glow Up, Kris Cannon was a contestant on Series 4 last year, after mainly getting into makeup during university and having seen James Mac on Series 2, who he knew of through mutual friends. Kris made the Final of the series, having only made the Face Off once, competing alongside his fellow finalists Lisa and Yong-Chin, and he received great feedback from Glow Up judges Val Garland and Dominic Skinner for his statue look in The Rolling Stones-themed Episode 5. Talking with Kris, he answered our questions about being a contestant on Series 4 of Glow Up, his favourite episodes to work on and making the Final alongside Lisa and Yong-Chin.
What encouraged you to enter Series 4 of Glow Up and how did it feel finding out you’d be a contestant on the show?
Since I became aware of the show I always had an idea that I would want to apply for it. I knew of James (Mac) from Season 2 through mutual friends prior to his appearance on the show. After seeing the success that he achieved after appearing on his season, that really encouraged me to want to apply.
As soon as I moved to London, I knew that I wanted to apply to the show and I did. I knew I had a unique style of makeup and suspected that I had a good chance of getting on. After months of the application process, I finally got word that I was successful in getting on. I’m pretty terrible at absorbing and celebrating good news so I kind of just went straight into preparation mode for filming. Though I was really excited for what was ahead.
How was it meeting the rest of the MUAs, the judges and presenter Maya Jama for the first time?
I was really eager to meet the rest of the MUAs and see who would be joining me on the season. I had met a few of the MUAs during the audition process, like Nancé and Yong-Chin, as we were all together during the audition process, so I was really excited to see them.
As for Maya and the judges, I was really intimated before meeting them, though tried to act cool. Thankfully they turned out to be lovely.
Where did you get the inspiration from for your designs over the series?
My inspiration came from various places for my designs. Some of the ideas came from a lot of brainstorming and then other looks were adaptations of makeup looks I had done prior to the show, such as my statue look and my avatar look. They included techniques or prosthetics that I had adapted myself that I wanted to show.
My cake look I had done as a look for part of the audition process and really wanted to showcase on the show as that was quite a special concept to me.
Did you have a favourite episode to film and which did you find most challenging?
My favourite episode to film was definitely Episode 5, The Rolling Stones episode, where we created our statue looks, not only for the fact that I got a Ding Dong but I also just massively enjoyed both challenges that episode. Everyone was having a lot of fun filming that episode. I also massively enjoyed the Doctor Who episode, though that was a lot more stressful.
The most challenging episode was definitely when we did Fashion Week. By that point I was so exhausted and couldn’t think straight. I still to this day cringe thinking of that makeup look.
What was it like finding out you were safe each week and making the Final?
It was a massive relief finding out you had made it through another week. Even if I wasn’t in the top for a week, I was delighted just to not be in the bottom. So I was really relieved to only find myself in the Face Off once.
Getting through to the Final was really touch and go as Episode 7 was when I finally found myself in the Face Off. I had a terrible performance that week but wasn’t ready to go home just yet so I did all I could to get through. I can’t describe the relief when I made it through to the Final, I could have cried.
Me, Lisa and Yong-Chin had been best pals the whole way through filming so it was really special when we ended up as the top three at the end.
How was your overall experience as a contestant and was it as you expected?
The overall experience was incredible. We got to do some amazing challenges and do some amazing things that we never would have got the opportunity to do otherwise. The whole thing was intense and incredibly stressful but I loved it. Not to mention the opportunities I’ve gotten from it since have been incredible.
It was definitely a lot tougher than I was expecting. I feel like all of us went into it thinking that it would be a piece of cake and then realised “Oh wow… this is hard”, haha. I learnt an awful lot from the show.
Why would you recommend being a contestant on Glow Up and what would you have liked to have known before joining Series 4?
I’d recommend for anyone interested to apply for the show because it gives opportunities that you just can’t get anywhere else. It showcases your work to an enormous audience all around the world and you learn so much along the way.
I suppose the only advice I would give to someone on the show would be don’t overthink things. I think I got in my own head a little bit and developed a little bit of tunnel vision which held me back from showcasing a bit more variety in my work.
Just relax and have fun.
Where does your love of makeup and prosthetics come from and how did you start in the industry?
I’ve always had a big imagination. For as long as I can remember I’ve always been painting or doodling or making things. I discovered makeup quite late, I think I was 21 or 22 and in university. Eventually I started applying my doodles to my face. I loved that I could breathe life into my imagination through makeup.
My real start into the industry came from the show. Before that, I was just making my little creations in my shed during lockdown.
Have you been given any advice that has stuck with you either throughout Glow Up or before/after being a contestant?
Not everyone is going to be a fan of your work and that’s ok.
Can you tell us about your MUA journey so far and has your makeup process changed over time?
My makeup journey has had a lot of different stages, I love Halloween, then I moved into drag makeup, and then into prosthetics. Since coming off the show, I’ve been really enjoying doing more refined work on a smaller scale. I’ve also really been enjoying body painting since filming the show.
Is there anything you enjoy most about being a makeup artist?
I love the freedom that it gives and how different each day is because of it. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love as my job.
How long do you spend working on your makeup designs and what is it like seeing it all come together?
My makeup looks can take anywhere between one to two hours to a couple of days to create. Making prosthetics generally includes one or two days of prep work also. The longest experience applying a look was close to 12 hours.
How do you like to spend your time away from makeup?
I’m a fairly avid gymgoer and work out usually about four to five days a week, which helps keep me sane. I’ve also recently tried to get back into oil painting, which I did for years when I was younger but struggle to find the time now as an adult. I find it super relaxing and really therapeutic.
What are some of your favourite products to use?
As an artist who works in SFX, your must-have products tend to be a little bit different than normal. The one product that I’d say I use the most across all looks is pros-aide, but that’s not that interesting, haha.
I would say my top three must-have items at the minute would be pros-aide, a good gel eyeliner (Inglot is my favourite), and a good cream paint. I’ve been loving Mehron lately.
One magic product I think everyone should have also, is a product called Isopropyl Myristate – it’s used to take off SFX makeup but is a wonderful makeup remover, it’s super moisturising and can even reactivate dried makeup!
Do you enjoy watching any other talent competition shows or what TV shows do you enjoy watching?
I do love Drag Race, like every other gay man, haha. I have been loving House of the Dragon and the new Lord of the Rings series also – anything where I can marvel at the prosthetics!
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