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Life & Work with Lan DeSoto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lan DeSoto.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I spent my childhood taking whatever art class my parents could afford and by the time I was 18, my heart was set on art school. I attended Otis College of Art and Design, where I decided to major in photography, a medium I had always been interested in but never formally trained. I found that I was in love with mixed media and interdisciplinary arts and that I could never stay with one medium too long. After graduating, I continued to practice my photography but began to become very interested in the makeup and beauty aspects of the photographs. In 2019 I took a makeup course with Priscilla Ono and then began my journey of creating art on faces. People became both my subject and my canvas. Today I still work behind the camera but mostly to tell my own personal stories, while I find most joy in providing beauty and glam for others with my colorful, youthful approach to makeup.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I would say the road continues. And as it continues, there is always going to be a few bumps and trials to get through. Some of my biggest obstacles have been, simply put; Me. I am constantly changing my mind, losing focus, and then beating myself up for falling into this cyclical pattern. But, truthfully, I think that part of the journey is being honest with myself. The road is not straight and narrow. There is lots of loss and heartbreak on the way. Plus, the struggle of being able to ignore my negative thoughts and push through. I am riddled with fear and anxiety and this has slowed me down in many ways. But I remind myself that the road continues on! And my dreams and goals can change and shift as I walk it. There is no need to run.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I like to describe myself as a Visual Artist because I wear many hats. Currently, my main focus and passion has been Makeup and Photography, which I firmly believe go hand in hand. In my work, both my Makeup and Photography have always been colorful, playful and evocative of a more youthful time in my life (although I didn’t actually wear a drop of makeup while growing up). I started my journey as a makeup artist in 2019, shortly after taking a class with the incredible Priscilla Ono. Once I painted my first face (that wasn’t my own), I knew makeup wasn’t just a hobby for me but an Art form. Photography had been something I studied in college and was practicing casually, working as an assistant and occasionally creating my own photo books, but I felt a lack in direction and purpose. I began to photograph my makeup (as one does) and then realized I found most of my joy in painting a face and then photographing it after. So the two mediums collided.

In 2020 I cofounded a photography studio with a friend and fellow Los Angeles Artist, Salima Allen. We named the studio Acid Smile Studios- to represent our funky, trippy, carefree spirits. And it is at our studio where I began to work closely with cliental to collaborate on unique makeup looks which are then photographed in a set we (Salima and I) both design and builds by hand. This studio is a large part of my practice and business, but I also offer services of makeup separately. The documentation and photography aspect is never really forgotten, as I find so much beauty in the setup, the palette, and the transformation – I always try to be sure to capture this process.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
The characteristic that I feel is most important to my success is my ability to never stop learning and to always be open to educating myself from those around me and my experiences. Even as I gain more skills and label myself as a professional, I am extremely aware that there is always more to learn. And I love this! I want to keep learning and keep getting better. I try to remind myself the only one I am really competing with is… me! I don’t know if my goal is ever to be the best? But rather to learn the most and have a good time doing it. I try not to let myself get caught up in habits, as art is an ever-changing, ever-expanding medium. Something I loved a few months ago could be something I truly am repulsed by now- and I think that is okay! I hate change but I embrace it. I would also add that being a generally nice, an amiable person has really helped me succeed. Not to say that I am perfect or ALWAYS pleasant to be around, but when working with clients or collaborating with others (which most of what my work involves),.It helps to be able to separate my own ego from a situation and focus on making sure everyone else in the room is comfortable, first and foremost. Also, Remember to have fun. (this is something I am still working on but I believe is of EXTREME importance).


  • I also offer payment plans to those who are experiencing any kind of financial hardship.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Instagram: @quietgrump
  • Other: @acidsmilestudios

Image Credits

Lan Shing DeSoto and Salima Allen

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