Fashion makeup places beauty on the eyes of the beholden
Visual art can encapsulate many mediums. From drawing, painting and sculpture to clothing design, furniture design and architecture, most artists have to start from a blank palette. Most art involves the artist pouring their soul into the piece and getting very little feedback during the process. Nowadays, even most music is collaborative.
But one of the few remaining arts where the illustrator can, and most certainly will, get almost immediate feedback is makeup artistry. It can be a high wire balancing act trying to be true to the face’s unique features while meeting the client’s requests and expectations.
The makeup artist is a designer. But more than that the artist is trying to interpret each face’s fundamental features and decide where to go in their aesthetical expression. “I always ask clients to tell me what you like,” says Emily Hawtin. “But beyond that, my goal as a makeup artist is to help you see your inner ‘me’. I believe that we should use makeup to highlight and accentuate each person’s natural beauty. We are each individually made and wonderfully beautiful; so let's celebrate that!”
Like many makeup artists, Hawtin came to practice the art through the influence of others. “My Dad was a painter and encouraged me to pursue anything artistic,” she says. Hawtin went on to earn a major in theatre makeup artistry and costume from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She also helped her husband with theatre productions at Soddy Daisy High School.
Weddings and special events are where many makeup artists get their start. Hawtin and her husband decided to start a wedding makeup business. Then she pursued further education at The Academy of Make Up Arts in Nashville. She learned the basics of skin care and other advanced techniques such as airbrushing.
“It’s really important in the beginning that you find your aesthetic voice,” she says. “During my first year doing makeup artistry I said yes to everything and did a lot of work for free.”
She began reading every book on how to start a business she could get her hands on. Hawtin soon got a call from a production company requesting her skills. Commercials, editorials and high-definition television shoots followed, each with their unique kind of client.
“I guess the number one request I get from my television clients is to make them look natural or glowing,” she says. “This involves a lot of blending and can take twice as long as say a highly stylized look. A smoky eye or similar look is really much easier than trying to make an actor, who’s been out all night drinking, look like he hasn’t.”
Hawtin’s best advice for clients is for them to be themselves. “Don’t morph yourself into someone else,” she adds. “Highlight your individual unique attributes.”
The advice holds especially true for her wedding clients. “Many of the women I work with have had bad experiences with makeup artists,” she says. “The fashion industry kind of portrays a certain snobbery but I’m there to reassure them I came to help.”
It also takes a certain amount of love and care for those in the role of makeup artist. “I’ve had brides fall asleep in my chair while I working with them,” she says. “I also try to reassure many of my older clients, many who never wear makeup. Usually they can’t believe the transformation that has just happened.”
But makeup artists do not always take the same path to establishing themselves in their profession. Artist in Makeup Jill Clark never thought her path would lead here.
“I’ve got a bachelor of fine arts, so I started by doing a lot of painting and drawing,” Clark says. “For me, makeup is about using the human form as a canvas and truly bringing the human form to life in a profound way.”
Clark was the daughter of a Navy officer and grew up in Sicily. Here she gained her European style of natural beauty and minimalism that exists in high fashion.
She has quite an eclectic portfolio working in television on shows like Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Clark loves the special effects aspect of science fiction, although her bread and butter continues to be commercials. As this story goes to press, she is returning from Italy after doing editorial work for a wedding at the Vatican in Rome.
Clark has no formal training as an esthetician but uses her artistic experience in her makeup work. “The golden triangle in painting is just like the bones of someone’s face,” she says. “The trick is to know someone’s jaw and cheek and making them look like they’re not flat.”
She also works with a lot of children and teenagers on fashion shoots. “Kids are hard because you try to give them self-esteem through your work,” she says. “I’m the anti-pageant makeup artist. I’m trying to transform them but not make them seem like adults.”
Clark fits the role of makeup artist well. “My clients are my artwork and my audience,” she adds passionately. “I’m peering into their soul with my work. Some clients say they hate the way they look. They breakdown and apologize to me.”
Clark takes the issue so seriously she is hosting a “Love Yourself” workshop that deals with body dysmorphia and identity. “Life is messy,” she says. “I want people to know that they are perfect in their imperfections.”
She also plans to start a beauty blog that deals with ethnicity. “As far as I know, there is no instructional blog on how work with different ethnic skin tones. For example, I’ve worked in Ireland and they live in a windy, grey climate so they are redheaded and fair skinned,” she explains. “But they see all these warm climate trends from Los Angeles and Miami and think it’s going to work in their environment, but it’s not.”
Clark always makes sure she knows about a client’s skin allergies and other factors before getting started. “Many people don’t know how to take care of the body’s largest organ, the epidermis,” she says.
With her training in painting, Clark’s color palette borrows from the Baroque, Rococo, and Expressionist periods. She is also a huge fan of horror and sci-fi makeup artists like Joe Dante from Gremlins, showing an ominous and dark side to her work. On the flipside, she recently participated in Glass Street Live, an interactive year-long installation by Wayne White, former art director of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and a native of Chattanooga.
Although many makeup artists lead a nomadic life, Darin Wright is a Chattanooga mainstay who is still going strong. She started Elea Blake Cosmetics in 1997 with the goal to provide each person the perfect tone of foundation to match their skin.
“At the time, people with non-mainstream skin tones were getting turned away from cosmetics on the market,” says Elea Blake Marketing Director Blake Wright. “Darin created a custom mineral makeup line that took its lead from the skin, not the other way around.”
Elea Blake soon introduced the ebhues color analysis system. Rooted in science, art, and makeup, ebhues was created out of a need to give each person their own best colors—defying the standard industry practice of lumping groups of people together to share a standard array of “best” colors.
“It really is both an art and a science,” says Blake. “We look at a client’s skin tone by looking at their undertone. We start with color then add a dash here and pinch there. Our artists really do have an eye to bring out the best in each client. It’s like magic but we end up figuring out each person’s formula from their skin tone.”
The ebhues system has created a scientific way to find that color in each hue. Their makeup artists use specially tested and designed color tools to locate what colors work best with a client’s skin tone.
The process of being draped then is to test each hue and have a client’s own color space determined utilizing attributes such as warm, cool, and neutral as well as hue, value and chroma to define the skin’s undertones and colors that look best.
Elea Blake has two paths for finding the best colors in each hue for clients. They can schedule a personal color analysis draping with Darin Wright or clients can use the studio’s online draping system.
The studio has developed several extensive and thorough online drapes for clients to find their best tones. Online draping also includes walkthroughs in both video and blog form and assistance from the studio’s staff.
“It can be extremely hard to know what you’re looking for when it comes to makeup,” says Blake. “We hope to take the guess work out of it for our clients. We want to see each individual for who they are and not cover up the beauty that exists in each person.”
Photo by Rebecca Denton Photography - rebeccadentonphotography.com