Geneva started her YouTube channel, LipstickArsenal, and garnered over 10k subscribers at its height and over 1.2 million video views. Her channel was her first exposure to makeup that connected her to digital beauty consumers and allowed her to work with brands like Coty, Maybelline and Lancôme. Since then Geneva has assisted awesome makeup artists throughout the nation and worked as a beauty and social media intern for the legendary Sonia Kashuk. Her work has been published in numerous indie magazines including Sessions, Hacid, Veux and Male Model Scene.
How old were you when you became obsessed with make up?
I was a late bloomer when it came to the makeup game. It wasn’t until my second year in university that I really played with makeup and learned how transformative it could be.
When did you decide “okay, this is it, I’m going to be a professional make up artist?” Who were some of your mentors or inspirations when you got started?
I transitioned fully into makeup after leaving my corporate job. Makeup has always been a passion of mine and I didn’t want to just keep doing it on the side. I’ve long admired the work of the 90s makeup artists like Bobbi Brown, Sonia Kashuk and Laura Mercier. I was lucky enough to be a beauty and social media intern for Sonia Kashuk one summer and learned so much from her about product and technique.
What were the early days of your career like? Did you have to test a lot in the beginning to build your book?
Early on I had a full-time job and only did makeup on the weekends. I turned my living room into a studio and tested beauty looks with a growing roster of photographers and models from Elite, Ford and Elmer Olsen. I didn’t go to makeup school so testing was crucial for developing my own techniques and skills.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently in your journey as a make up artist? Any decisions you made when you were younger you would not make today, knowing what you have learned so far?
Learning when to say “no” to certain jobs and doing more creative beauty projects. For shoots, I always think about the theory of opportunity cost—the lost benefit of giving up one project for another. It’s hard to tell what will come of some shoots early on so this was a constant struggle. When I was in Paris, a noted fashion photographer reviewed at my portfolio and suggested I do more beauty shoots where I had more control of the concept to add more variation to my portfolio.
How do you communicate with the photographer you’re working with on a shoot to achieve his or her goals?
I like to check out a photographer’s portfolio beforehand to get a feel for their aesthetic. When I get to set, I introduce myself and always ask about the lighting. Photographers usually have reference pictures for the makeup so I ask them what they like specifically about each look and see how I can achieve it. I take a look at the first shots to see how the makeup looks with the lighting and I make any adjustments if necessary.
What skills did you learn early on that you still use today?
Attention to detail. Even in the age of digital retouching, the ability to do a very clean makeup look is crucial.
Tell us what a dream job is for you?
My main focus is fashion so fashion editorials have always been #goals for me. Earlier this year, my exclusive editorial with my amazing model friend Vanessa was published for GQ Italia. My ultimate goal would be a national campaign or a celebrity cover for Elle, L’Officiel or Vogue.
What are the three tools in your make up kit that you can never, ever be without?
I love my Dome Beauty Brushes. The synthetic brush hairs are easier to clean and tapered for a flawless application.
I also love my stainless steel palette for mixing foundations, cream products and lipsticks. Palettes are hygienic and make it a lot easier to do touch ups.
The Tweezerman Brow Scissors & Brush Set are another life saver on set! The angled ergonomic scissors are razor sharp and perfect for trimming stray eyebrow hairs and false lashes.
What advice for young make up artists who are just starting out and want to be where you are, at the top of the industry?
Reach out to experienced makeup artists in your area—assisting them can be one of the most valuable experiences. Makeup is an art and it’s a privilege to be under the tutelage of a seasoned master who can expose you to great contacts and new techniques.
What is your favorite quote?
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. – Edgar Degas