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Fashion Tue Jun 12 2012

The Makeup Show: Chicago

The Make-Up Show (l-r) James Vincent, Danessa Myricks, Orlando Santiago, Jon Hennessey & Esterique Aidan.

The Makeup Show--the ultimate beauty showcase for make-up artists, cosmetologists, photographers and other industry professionals--comes to town this week; read on as veteran professional make-up artist and artistic director, James Vincent, talks about the event, as well as the beauty and business of the make-up industry.

How did your career as a makeup artist begin?

I didn't ever plan it; I call myself "the accidental makeup artist." I didn't even really know makeup was a job, I mean, I knew people did it for movies and stuff but I didn't really know about it.

When did you begin to really take notice of it?

I was in school for social work and women's studies was my focus; I started working in the beauty industry because we started a camp at Brown for children with HIV and The Body Shop saw the camp, who at the time, was starting its own camp, hired me to develop some programs for them, work in the stores and do some training for them. I just fell in love with the beauty industry. I then moved to Atlanta to write my thesis, "Women of Color and The White Beauty Myth" and I got hired by M.A.C., who was brand new at the time. I encountered a lot of opportunities with M.A.C., traveling and training for them, and working with celebrities and like LaFace [Records] and CNN.

Things took off rather quickly for you--did you finish school?

I never finished school--I never finished my thesis--I just fell in love with makeup. It's become such a passion for me and I think because of my background in women's studies and social work, I approach it a little differently than other artists because for me, makeup isn't about covering up; it's about bringing things out and celebrating individuality. It's also one of the reasons why I do so much education and community building with The Makeup Show. Again, it's not anything I ever planned--it just happened. One of the things in this industry is that you'll find a lot of people that kind of came here accidentally and never left--once it's in your blood, it's kind of difficult to let it go.

You've been in the industry for a while now; how would you compare it now to when you first started?

I think that makeup has changed in that technology has changed, especially in the formulation area. We have also had this return to organic and natural, so people, clients and customers are savvier and want the best product. There are also more makeup artists in the market; when I started there were probably hundreds--now there are thousands. It's a growing industry and there are so many people who are embracing it.

As a veteran professional makeup artist--what challenges would you say you face in the industry?

I think the challenges now come from keeping things exciting and fresh. One thing a 24-hour news cycle and social media has done is that there is such an inundation of makeup, celebrities, and faces all the time that sometimes, people don't realize what goes into a collection or a photo shoot. The cameras see much more, so we have to be more flawless in our execution. I think that social media makes our work have scrutiny that it never had before so now, for example, someone can put my work on Facebook and people respond to it; I get a critique right away which never happened before.

Social media impacts any and every industry; there's really no way around it...

I did a high profile job a few months ago with ["Jersey Shore" star] Snooki, where I did a make-"under" on her for US Weekly. She was announcing her engagement and pregnancy, and I was excited to be a part of it, but the media storm that surrounds that it's crazy to me. I've done makeup on everybody from Lady Gaga to Barack Obama, but this reality TV star was the one that people kind of freaked over because it was such a different look for her. You don't expect that social media will have the impact that it does on your career but I think that's probably the biggest challenge: balancing your business side with your artistry side.

Your clientele has been very diverse; you've made up some very famous faces from the world of politics, film and television and musically, you've done artists from rap to rock and roll. Are there any celebrities on your radar for the future?

I would love to Deborah Harry and Jill Scott, who is one of the most beautiful women--I love her energy and her face. And Erykah Badu--I've wanted to do her makeup for like 12 years. I love women that have personality and energy. Emma Stone is great. Charlize Theron and Viola Davis are kind of amazing. But Jill Scott, Deborah Harry and Emma Stone are the three that have been on my radar for some time.

Over the years, I've often heard and read that when it comes to women of color, some make-up artists don't "get it right"--how would you respond to that?

I think that if you can't do makeup on a different skin tone, then you can't do makeup. We have to step outside of our comfort zones; you've got to be a makeup artist who shows diversity in your portfolio. For me, coming from a racially diverse family, background and place, I couldn't even imagine not doing every skin tone. I think that makeup artists have got to step up and work with whatever face is in front of them--I have no tolerance for people that say "I can't match this skin tone" or "I'm not comfortable working on that skin tone." It's a lazy way of looking at makeup and we, as makeup artists, are responsible for opening people's eyes and changing all of that. Don't divide it by race--look it as beauty for all women.

Do you have a signature look?

My signature style is "uptown glamour with a downtown edge." I kind of like to combine the two.

Let's talk about your role as director of artistry for The Makeup Show--what do your duties entail?

I work with the production team to get all the education together by working with vendors and brands to make sure we're putting together an educational program for the attending artists. We have over 50 educational opportunities at the show--seminars, forums, panel discussions, hands-on workshops and keynote presentations--with some of the biggest names in the business, offering advice on everything from building your business to mastering social media to creating a "smoky eye." I work to develop the education but it's also about building community.

Fans of makeup and beauty will obviously attend this event--what would you say to encourage the casual or non-makeup wearer to come out?

One of the things to think about is that wearing and understanding makeup is ownership. Makeup allows you to express however you want to look, and a beautifully-applied makeup doesn't necessarily mean too much makeup; understanding how to apply it so it looks like you're not wearing anything is really the goal. You don't want someone to look at your lashes or your brows and say "Oh, I love your makeup"; you want them to think your face looks beautiful. A lot of women say "I'm not a big makeup wearer," but when they have ownership and understanding of what it can do, it really allows them to play with it and not be afraid of it. There is a lot of trepidation on the part of women because they don't understand how to apply their makeup--but that's because no one ever showed them how to do it properly.

The Makeup Show has already run in Los Angeles and New York, and will be in Chicago this weekend--tell us about bringing the show back to the Windy City.

When it comes to makeup artists and hairstyling, Chicago is not the "second city"; some of the best people in the industry live there. Come out and celebrate with your makeup community--learn the tips and tricks and techniques to take your makeup to the next level or get a better understanding of what you can do with your business or your face to feel better about yourself!


The Makeup Show will be held Sunday, June 17 from 9am to 6pm and Monday, June 18 from 9am to 5pm at Venue One, 1044 W. Randolph St. Tickets are $45-$70; visit the show's website for more information.

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Gina Boyce / June 12, 2012 4:12 PM

I have been in the business of transformation as far as I can remember as a Make-up artist , Hairstylist and now Designer!
Excited about THE MAKE-UP SHOW!

Gina Boyce
GEGI Fashion

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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