Sam Visser has quickly risen through the ranks of beauty stardom. From launching his career at age 12 on the set of a David LaChapelle shoot to now, as a go-to collaborator of Bella Hadid and Kaia Gerber, the 20-year-old makeup artist has, by all accounts, become a next-generation star. He comes armed with a vast and passionate knowledge of what and who came before him as he decorates the faces of beauty’s biggest thrill-seekers.
“It’s fun when somebody gets pushed out of their comfort zone and they are willing to try something they’ve never tried before or step into a character they didn’t even know was inside of them,” explains Visser, who traverses the worlds of celebrity beauty and editorial (with a capital E!) to disruptive effect, whether he’s turning Hadid into a real-life Roy Lichtenstein or etching a leopard-print smoky eye on Euphoria star Alexa Demie. “Exploring and experimenting is what makes it magical,” he adds. With his ability to rattle off a list of references, from old fashion campaigns to iconic couture beauty looks, Visser—who has been hailed the next Kevyn Aucoin for his technical makeup and documentarian skills alike—channels a studied appreciation of the past into the lightning-paced digital present in a refreshing, if not revolutionary, way. “Sam is an old-school artist with the tools of youth,” veteran makeup artist Pati Dubroff tells Vogue. “It’s a powerful combination.”
On an upward ascent that shows no sign of stopping, Visser will now be bringing his directional vision and talent to his biggest role yet: Dior’s new U.S. makeup artist ambassador. “It’s a career milestone,” says Visser, who grew up worshipping the French fashion house’s greatest beauty collaborators, from Serge Lutens to creative and image director Peter Philips, who will direct Visser in his new post. “Since the beginning, Dior has defined glamour and how it’s evolved,” explains Visser, citing Christian Dior’s iconic introduction of the New Look in 1947. “It continues to transform in being so modern and forward-thinking in everything, especially beauty.”
Despite the current challenges of our moment, Visser believes it’s a thrilling time for beauty; namely because there have never been less boundaries hindering self-expression. “We’re in this time now of major transformation and Renaissance where things like gender are something of the past and makeup is all about the character you want to creatively portray to the world,” explains Visser. “The future is going to be a world of no labels and I think living that way through beauty is very powerful.” In celebration of Visser’s latest career breakthrough, find a retrospective look at some of his biggest moments, below.