Meet Janica Cleto, Licensed Architect Turned Makeup Artist

Working on that makeup blueprint.

From working on architectural plans to focusing on the beauty within, Janica Cleto is making radiant skin on her own terms.

Related: How This Filipino Creative Went From College Dropout To In-Demand Makeup Artist

While we live in a world that often encourages us to follow a planned path, that shouldn’t stop us from pursuing other goals as long as our heart and mind speak to it. Career shifts are possible, even of the most drastic kind. Just ask 27-year-old makeup artist Janica Cleto who is helping break boundaries in her pursuit of creativity. Despite growing up in a traditional Chinese family where business and practicality were the norms and the pressures that come with that, Janica persevered in her journey of expressing her craft.

Janica Cleto is an architecture graduate from the University of Santo Tomas but decided to merge what she learned from studying with her passion for makeup artistry. It’s not the typical career transition you’d expect, but she was determined to forge her path at her own pace in the fashion and creative industry. With every brushstroke, she transforms skin into a canvas from eyelids to vibrant colors with glamour and versatility.


Like most of us, we all have a dream of being in an industry we love, but Janica was undecided at first. “I initially was looking into fashion or interior design but was encouraged by my mom to take up Architecture instead because it also has a few interior basics, and she also wanted me to try it out since it covers more aspects like basic engineering, interior design, and building techniques,” she explained. “ It’s one of the biggest arts I can actually do because there’s so much beauty in architecture and designing spaces for specific functions.”

Making the most out of everything, she goes beyond the tradition and wants to express what she truly wants. so she took the risk by delving into the creative industry after experiencing a slump in her architecture job. “My career in makeup arts was not intentional. I never even considered doing makeup as a profession. It started when I got frustrated with my Architecture job and wanted a quick break to express my creative juices.”

Janica Cleto

She continues, “I found the most accessible materials to me at that time, which was my makeup, and set up a shoot with my friends and sister. When I posted the photos from that shoot, some photographers started to reach out to me for collaborations which started my career in makeup,” she recounted, and as they say–the rest is history.

Soon, her inspiration led her to create. “I’ve always liked painting and doing my friends’ makeup for performances in school and people would compliment me on my work. I usually find myself browsing beautiful and interesting looks of models on runways or high fashion shoots, which inspire me to also create creative looks. From when I started that collab with friends, I just went with the flow even without any proper education or basic foundations in makeup.” Doing what she loves over the years while crafting her style, from editorial and impactful runway looks, Janica Cleto knows what makes her authentic to everyone else.


A career in the creative industry is not as easy as it may seem, yet Janica proves that with consistency and hard work, you can be whoever you want to be by embracing your creativity. Her career highlights include being featured in the Mega rule book and beauty editorials in April and May 2022, marking her first published work.

“The creative brief was just up my alley, with graphic editorial eye looks and bold blush,” Janica notes. “After that, I would say every time I get to do magazines and get featured or when I get to work with various artists is a big thing for me.” Janica has expanded her horizons in the creative industry, working with a diverse range of clients and campaigns, pushing her career to new heights.

Janica Cleto

“Working with longtime creatives, fashion designers and music artists/singers has also been a highlight in my career, especially when they give me the freedom to create their looks. But the most memorable one in my career for me is having been able to work on runways and fashion shows since it was my dream when I first started makeup,” Janica shares.

Making waves through her work in the local industry, she delved into the P-pop world where she worked with one of her favorite clients to date. “Creating looks for P-pop groups started when I was tapped by Parcinq magazine to do makeup for their 1st ever cover with SB19. That paved the way for me in the P-pop industry and how I met & worked with KAIA, even before their debut. They have been my girls ever since.”


From collaborations to working with other creatives in the industry, Janica’s dedication to learning, listening, and experimentation paved the way for her current career. “Getting to collaborate with various types of people & feeling good about the output we’ve produced together is something I wouldn’t trade for as a creative. Imagine going to work to do something you’re passionate about. That to me is the best kind of profession,” Janica emphasizes.

Admittedly, impostor syndrome does kick in for Janica at times, especially since she learned most of what she knows by herself. But she doesn’t let that bring her down. “Since I am self-taught, I do find myself being lost and having doubts about whether I’m actually on the right career path. I get pressured and feel the need to prove that I made the right choice trading in makeup for Architecture, which I am licensed in. But at the end of the day, I know I get booked for a reason,” she confidently says. “I know that there are people who believe in my skills so I can say that my passion for my craft overpowers my fears.”

Janica Cleto

And while transitioning from architecture to the creative industry is undoubtedly a leap, it does allow her to express her ideas and creativity more freely. “I look at it as an art form where I can pour my ideas and creativity instead of waiting such a long time for a design to come to life as it is in Architecture. I really enjoy seeing my makeup work be executed the way I imagined it,” she explains. “I would say that I am thankful to Architecture for honing my understanding of structure, arts, and color theory. Knowing these helped me be instinctive in my art most of the time.”

Janica has a passion for her craft that always triumphs over her fears. It’s a narrative that’s the embodiment of other young creatives who hope to transition into what they love from other career options. She wants others to know that while it can seem daunting at first, what matters is that you try.

Janica Cleto

“Having the courage to take that first step into something will always be scary, but there will surely be something you’ll learn about yourself and it may be life-changing. Persevere in something you are interested in. Don’t mind what others have to say because what’s important is how you feel about what you do and if it’s meant to be, it will be. It’s always better to give it a try than have regrets and what-ifs.” With her boldness, Janica is making waves and proving that creativity knows no bounds–it’s just up to you how are you going to express your visions to the world, one vibrant hue at a time.

Images courtesy of Janica Cleto

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