Kanye West's Hair Colorist Daniel Moon on Becoming the Star Behind Hollywood's Most Vibrant Looks

Robyn Merrett

Behind every great hair color is an even greater colorist.

Just ask Daniel Moon. Known as the leader of Hollywood’s hair graffiti color cult, Moon is the man behind Kanye West, Miley Cyrus, Madonna, Katy Perry and more A-list stars’ colorful manes.

“I’m a craftsman,” Moon, 39, told PEOPLE during a workshop in collaboration with Bombay Sapphire’s latest #FindYourCanvas initiative. The class emphasized the transformative power of hair color, encapsulating the bright bold hue trend and expanding on what certain colors can do for one’s psyche and personal aesthetics.

“I’m like a metal worker and someone is coming to me for a sword. I’ve just become known for my craft and using my expertise in highly creative situations — It’s been one of my favorite and most growing experiences,” Moon says.

The Los Angeles native and former Marine got his start nearly a decade ago after being inspired by the “freedom” hair stylists had.

Now, he’s a proud owner of a shop in downtown Los Angeles and has debuted his own personal line of hair products, Major Moonshine — a glitter gel that glides on the hair.

“That to me is the graduation and evolution of all of this time put into this color revolution,” Moon says of opening his own salon.

Read on to learn more about Moon’s journey and what he feels sets him apart from others in the industry.

Daniel Moon | Michael Kovac

Tell me the moment you knew you wanted to be a colorist?

“I was young I was 20, I was still in the marines. I had a friend going to hair school and I met some great hairdressers that were ex-army rangers that were hairdressers in Beverly Hills and they introduced me to some great people. I really liked their attitude, their style and I really liked the freedom that they had.”

So, you went from being in the Marines to doing hair — what was that transition like?

“The transition was fast and exciting.”

What do you think sets you apart from others in this industry?

“I think the way that I communicate, the way that I take risks, it’s very calculated so it’s not that risky — I leave the risk to the person that’s challenging themselves to be a new person. I can put a color on their hair and take it off right away — that is part of my expertise. Also, when I’m in a conversation with someone, I’m always asking ‘How much do you want to be creative and for how long?’ So, a big part of being a hairdresser is having people who trust you. Because I know these colors so well and I’ve been doing this for about 8 years now, the range of colors that I know and how long they last, I can walk clients through this adventure. Keeping everyone’s hair in great condition, is what I’ve studied. I’ve studied how to bleach somebody and have their hair still feel like nothing happened.”

Daniel Moon | Michael Kovac

Who was your first celebrity client?

“I think my first big celebrity client was Nicole Richie — working with Andy Lecompte we did lavender and that was in the beginning of, you know, creative coloring. That was the very first wave of when it all started being seen in a different way because it used to be more punk. At that time, it was the very first time anyone wore it in a different context and like high fashion, but still with an attitude.”

What’s the craziest color you’ve ever created for a celebrity client?

“I think every kind of color I do on a celebrity is wild. Every time I feel I create with celebrities, it’s been really creative and they’ve been great transformations and great chapters. Everyone has always made it back with everything in tact.”

Can you tell us a little more about the looks you’ve created for Kanye West and Katy Perry and what inspired them?

“Like all of the celebrities I’ve created with, when working with artists it’s a collaboration — it’s also like I’m a color engineer. Any celebrity that’s gotten to that point has worked extremely hard to create their persona, so when I get to work with them — I’m a craftsman. I’m like a metal worker and someone is coming to be for a sword. I’ve just become known for my craft and using my expertise in highly creative situations — It’s been one of my favorite and my most growing experiences. “

What hair care regimen do you prescribe for your clients so these major changes don’t make them go bald?

“I really like the product line Virtueand I love the line because it’s very healing. It has Alpha Keratin in it that actually fills in the hair and strengthens the hair. As you lighten the hair and pull the pigment out, it becomes a little bit more hallow. With Virtue, all of their products have Alpha Keratin where it’s healing every time you use it. I stand by these products because I like to introduce people to these transformations, but then let them be on their own with good products so they don’t have to keep checking in with me.”

What’s the longest time it’s ever taken you to create a color?

“12 hours straight. It was a color correction. She was blonde, it was just like surgery. When you work with some blondes and a bad job goes wrong (because platinums should consistently go to the same hairdresser so they know their record) — it’s like going to a mechanic and not having all the other work done. I had a new client and she was wonderful, but I had to recreate this canvas and it took that long to fragilely pick through the hair to make a nice beautiful blonde.”

What’s the farthest distance you’ve ever had to travel to do a client’s hair?

“I’ve gone to a couple of places, London for the night. I’ve done Paris as well for a couple of days just to go do hair and I come back. It’s taught me how to pack all of my colors in the smallest package and to be able to travel with a small kit without using heat. I’ve also done hair in Cuba, shot in Cuba. Because I have this expertise I can go further away. In Cuba when I did that I was like, ‘You’re the only person in this country who can do this.’”

What has been your proudest moment?

“So far my proudest moment now, is having my own space in Los Angeles, downtown. That to me is the graduation and evolution of all of this time put into this color revolution. Being able to have a salon where you can expose your clients and people to more of you, and more of my life and more of my inspiration. When you come to my salon you see the art that I love. You see the artists that have come in and traded work with me in their career. That’s a top point, besides collaborating with all the artist I’ve gotten to work with and being their colorist.”

Can you name a time you felt like a failure — and what did you learn from it?

“I think in the beginning there were a lot of challenges because I was doing a lot of things that were never been before. Bleaching multiple ethnicities to achieve these white blondes and pastels, 7 or 8 years ago, I was doing so much because the results I was getting were so transformative and exciting and I was flooded with work. During those times and playing with bleach and being in that world — that was a time where I was learning. I don’t want to say there were mistakes, but I want to say I was gaining experience and learning a lot about hair. Still to this day when it comes to bleach there is no way to the top. You can’t go to a hairstylist and be like can say okay can you do this on my hair and be done in 20 minutes?”

Why did you choose to align with Bombay Sapphire’s #FindYourCanvas initiative and how does it reflect your own career journey?

“Bombay Sapphire’s #FindYourCanvas initiative is all about reawakening our inner creativity by encouraging individuals to discover what they’re inspired by. By tapping back into the creative voice of our childhood a whole new world can open up. My work as a hair colorist and inventor has always been about creating those moments for people — real experiences where people can directly connect over each other’s ability to express themselves through color.”

“I’ve always viewed hair as a blank canvas, and I love the idea of showcasing how creativity transcends far beyond the traditional art world. The artistry of hair color is something that I’ve been advocating for for years and it’s amazing to see the world is catching on to how powerful this medium is.”

Do you have any advice you’d pass on to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

“I would say do it — dive in! I would say work really hard and learn the basics. Stay humble, stay sweet, have an open heart and be patient with the process of learning. It’s hard. The coloring that I do looks fun, but it’s because of the amount of time put into it, all the sacrifices, late nights early mornings. The people I work with in my salon, I love when they give me everything they got without questioning anything. I believe having that personality and that mindset will allow that individual to work in hair in every way possible.”