How old were you when you became obsessed with make up?
One of my first memories when I was about 4 years old was me climbing up my mothers dresser to grab her lipstick, I smeared it all along the drawers as I climbed my way down then continued to smush it all over my face … I’ve been a makeup addict ever since.
When did you decide “okay, this is it, I’m going to be a professional make up artist?”
Growing up I had a big costume box and I was always into dressing up. I went to art school for a little while in high school then studied theatre in college at Penn State. My favorite courses were the costuming and stage makeup classes, so after I graduated I moved to London and studied at a professional makeup school taught by ex BBC artists…, It wasn’t a career I really thought of when I was younger but more of a natural progression of something I fell into. I feel so lucky that I can have a career that is combined by my love of art, dressing up and dramatics.
What were the early days of your career like? Did you have to test a lot in the beginning to build your book?
My early days of my career were hard. I did every crap job out there. I face painted at fairs to pick up my speed. I worked on no budget music videos and short films. I sold beauty products at beauty exhibitions and then for beauty brands like MAC. I assisted established makeup artists I met who came into the MAC shop. I started off cleaning brushes and getting coffee and THEN I tested like crazy. I made a lot of mistakes but learned from them quickly. I went in from the ground up… If you can make a 45 year old with bad skin look good then when you get your hands on a young model with gorgeous skin your task at hand is a breeze. Too many makeup artists today come straight out of school thinking they’re gonna’ be working on Victoria Secret Models after graduation. However, it’s better for makeup artists to hone their skills by working on every face shape and skin tone and problem possible, so they really know how to solve them.
What are the benefits of being represented by an agency as opposed to being on your own?
A good agent can protect you. They’re a great barrier between you and the client to make sure things like proper pay, kit fees and transport are all arranged for you. Also you’re not hassling a client for money. They also can guide your career in the right direction for your talent. A good agent should market you right and open up doors to new clients you never would have met on your own. I love my agency, Artists By Timothy Priano- they “get me” and how I like to work, I’m obsessed with my booker Christina there- she’s amazing! Even when I bring in my own clients she always gets me a better deal then I could have arranged for myself, plus she is super sweet and all my clients compliment how lovely she is-which is very important to me, I like to be professional but nice.
How do you communicate with the photographer you’re working with on a shoot to achieve his or her goals?
It’s really important for a photographer when communicating with a makeup artist to have trust in the artist he or she is working with. If I am hired it’s because he/she trusts in my skill but also it’s important for the photographer to give as many visual and verbal descriptions for the shoot that we are working on. It’s great if I can be given a detailed “brief” of what the shoot is about and what it’s for. The makeup I would do on a model for a teen marketed magazine is very different for a European very edgy fashion magazine. Mood boards and tear sheets of ideas are good but I’m not into ripping off another artists’ makeup and I always add my own personal flair and stamp on the look.
How much of your input do you add to achieve the results the photographer is looking for?
I’ve been in the business over 17 years and have worked on all ends of the spectrum so I give a lot of input, but more in the finished result rather than talking about it too much because a lot can happen in the process of creativity.
Tell us what a dream job is for you?
My “Dream Job” would be Ellen Von Unwerth as the photographer, Grace Coddington styling, Sam McKnight on hair, Baz Lurman doing the art direction and Raquel Welch circa 1970 modeling (she is my muse) But any job with a sassy creative director and a decent pay rate is always an awesome second LOL.
What are the three tools in your make up kit that you can never, ever be without?
The three tools I can never be with out are 1: a contour brush. I use them for everything from shadow to powder to concealor 2: a sharp pair of slanted tweezers from Tweezerman, and 3: my eye lash comb (because I like rock and roll but not clumpy lashes).
Advice for young make up artists who are just starting out and want to be where you are, at the top of the industry?
For new makeup artists- leave your diva ness at the door, NEVER be late- learn to be 5 minutes early everywhere, be flexible as shoots run late so if you’re assisting don’t whine that you need to leave early or go home, don’t turn your nose up at washing brushes or getting coffee-what ever creative environment you can wedge your way into and shadow and learn from, do it!! Say yes to as many free tests and jobs as possible-you never know where they may lead. Work at a makeup counter part time and practice, practice, practice!!
What is your favorite quote?
My fav quote is “Beauty Fades but Dumb is Forever” – Judge Judy.