Makeup Artist Alessandra Semisa: Whatever Makes You Feel Pretty, Just Go For It!
“I think everyone should find their own expression to be unique. So, whatever makes you feel pretty, just go for it!“
Alessandra, can you please tell us a bit more about yourself and how did you discover a love for makeup? I’m an Italian make-up artist and I live and work mainly in Milan, which is a great city for fashion. I’ve always been intrigued by arts and handcraft. The best gift I could get when I was a child would be a box of crayons; I actually still remember when I received two layers wooden one! I’ve always loved drawing, painting and doing any kind of handmade things to implement my creativity. I think make-up is a sort of art and it’s just something that I find so fascinating. Models’ faces are my canvas and I love getting inspired by their features. I attended the make-up school in Milan, studying beauty, fashion and theatrical make-up. When I started the school, I thought theatre was going to be my field, but during the path I found myself loving fashion make-up so much.
What is your beauty philosophy? Does everyone look better with make-up? I think a little bit of make-up can help everyone, but for everyday life it’s not something necessary. I love using make-up to enhance people’s natural beauty, including those little flaws that make everyone themselves. I don’t like the idea of correcting women’s faces to make them fit the beauty standards; you can tell I’m not a big fan of heavy contouring!
I think beauty is more about being interesting, unique and different, and it also has to do with personality.
Looking back, how has makeup artistry changed or influenced you as a person? I think it changed the way I look to people. I pay more attention to their features, and when I see some interesting faces I always imagine how I could do their make-up. Sometimes I find myself staring at someone. I know it might look creepy to them, but as I said, I’m just thinking of painting their face! (smiling).
Another thing that has changed is the way I look to things when I go around. I’m always looking for some inspiration and I love using different materials to enrich the make-up I do and to create some props for the shootings. I made a headpiece out of a placemat and I glued so many little things on my models’ face.
What are your favorite Autumn 2017 beauty trends? The one I like the most is the pop of color that has been added in many natural make-up looks, to liven them up. I love the contrast that colors can create and I think we should never be afraid of using bright shades. It’s always good to dare and have fun as a make-up artist! (Byblos, Vivienne Westwood, Oscar de la Renta, Desigual…)
I also loved the metallic pigments that have been used to create some amazing looks on many shows, the effect they make is absolutely stunning. (Alberta Ferretti, Brandon Maxwell, Christian Siriano, Alexis Mabille…)
Last but not least, the berry lips. Even though is nothing new, I think dark bold lips are always a good choice for an autumn look. (Valentino, Marc Jacobs, Badgley Mischka…)
You have done commercial, fashion, movie makeup… Your client list and portfolio are impressive. What is the most exciting or challenging opportunity you have had as a freelance makeup artist? I’ve been Einat Dan’s assistant in the past year and that’s already something really exciting for me. Since I started my make-up artist journey, I’ve got so much inspiration from her works and for me it’s incredible to be able to help her. I think I had one of the most challenging opportunities a few months ago, when we were working in London. We had been there for a few days, when she found out she had to leave one day in advance. She left me her make-up bag and asked me to do a body painting on the model for one of her fashion movies. I was so excited and happy that she trusted me that much, but obviously a little bit worried too. The expectation was high, but everyone was happy about the result. I think it is way more challenging when you have to do a job covering for someone else, especially if that person is Einat Dan.
How do you keep up with all the new trends and styles? Where do you pull your inspiration from to help you with your work? I always try to attend some workshops or classes about the new trends because I think it’s something really important as a make-up artist. I also follow on social Medias the most important make-up artists worldwide and the big make-up brands, to see some fashion shows backstage photos and videos. I obviously get inspired by them, but also I pull my inspiration from everything that surrounds me. Arts inspire me, as well as nature. If you have a closer look to animals and flowers, you will find so many beautiful textures and colors that will inspire you. I also get inspired by the products I use and the different materials I buy in handcraft shops. Sometimes I just feel that I want to use one specific make-up product, or maybe I want to apply some jewels, pearls or paper on the model’s face. In this case, I build the look around that detail.
Can you name some products and tools you could not live without while working on set? I always carry so many things with me, even though I know I should use a smaller make-up kit. I’m obsessed with skin-care and skin make-up products; half of my kit is made up of creams, foundations and highlighters. I think none perfect eyeliner or eyeshadow blending will look good without a beautiful skin base.
I love using body painting colors, cause you can mix them and use them in so many different ways to give a little twist to your beauty looks.
The tool I could never live without is the little fan brush to apply mascara while combing the lashes. Using that brush you can get to the roots so easily and the result is really natural.
What are your top 3 beauty don’ts? As I said I have a thing for skin-care, so the first “beauty don’t” is: never go to sleep without removing your make-up (my mom and my sister know that really well). The next advice would be: avoid using tons of foundation and setting powder, there’s nothing worse than a thick and dusty make-up base. Last but not least: don’t forget to hydrate your skin, especially before you apply the make-up, the products will go on smoothly and your face will look plumped and radiant.
What do you think are some of the keys to being a successful makeup artist? I’m still working on it, but I have some advices for the ones who want to start this exciting journey. First of all, never stop learning. I think this is something really important; I’ve seen so many people that after one year of make-up school would feel on top. We should all have the humility to understand that there is always more to achieve. Another crucial thing is to keep up to date on new trends and techniques. Finally, look for some experienced make-up artist to help as an assistant. There’s no better way to learn new things over and over again.
From you point of view, why is having a hair and makeup artist essential to a photographer? What can you provide to help photographers images stand out? I think everyone in the team is essential to get a high quality photo, it’s about many details coming together. If you have an amazing make-up artist, but the photographer can’t set the lights properly, you won’t have a good result. Same thing for the model, her role is critical, if she only gives you one pose it will be hard to choose the best picture. As a make-up artist, I think I can contribute to the team with some interesting details, especially for beauty shots. Even the most natural make-up, with no mascara and just a lip-gloss, can make the difference. If the skin is flawless and dewy (also the body skin if showed in picture), you will have a beautiful, fresh and professional result.
What would be your practical tips to aspiring models who tend do their own makeup for photo-sessions? I would suggest them to keep it natural and simple. I think it’s way better to do an easy make-up, rather than trying to do bold eyes or lips if you’re not a professional. A light foundation and a little bit of concealer to even out the skin and cover the dark circles, some mascara and a touch of lip gloss is enough.
What effect do you think the Internet and editing tools has on the beauty industry today? Do you feel Photoshop has created a skewed perception of the ideal body image? Most definitely. The majority of people who are not in the industry don’t know how much editing work is behind a picture. They just see flawless bodies and perfect fit clothes, but everything can be fixed and changed with Photoshop. Any fabric wrinkle, stretch mark on the body and even body hairs can be cancelled.
The editing tools are amazing and useful instruments, but I think we should never rely on them too much. I’ve heard some make-up artists saying things like “it doesn’t matter, they will fix it later”. Of course they can do it, but it means more work for the person who does the editing due to our mistakes and laziness. We should care about every detail, that’s what makes a passionate make-up artist a good professional.
What do you wish people would understand about working in the makeup industry?What would you say is the most challenging part of hair and makeup business?I wish people would understand what we do; every time I say I am a make-up artist, especially as a freelance, I have to explain what my job means. It’s not just about making girls prettier, it’s about creating an image. I think it’s a form of art, something really creative. I’m talking about fashion and editorial make-up, more than classic beauty make-up, such as bridal (even though I enjoy that as well). The most challenging part is being considered as proper workers and artists, which is not so easy.
What do you hope to explore as an artist in the future? Someone you would like to work with or something you’d like to accomplish? I would love to work for a big make-up brand campaign, maybe for a summer colorful collection! I think it would be so much fun!
I would also like to do more job trips in some places I’ve never been, such as Asia or United States. I’ve already worked in some European countries, but it’s so exciting to see new countries and how they work there.
What advice would you give to makeup artists starting out and trying to find photographers to work with?I would suggest them to look for photographers online, nowadays it’s a lot easier! They can search on social Medias and text the ones they like direct, offering to collaborate. At the beginning they will need to build their own portfolio, so the best thing to do is to find a few photographers to work on some personal projects. That’s the best way to get some nice photos of the make-up looks you can create. The better is your portfolio, the easier is to promote yourself and work frequently.
And… What advice would you give to photographers when they are choosing a makeup artist? Always have a look to their portfolio, even if they have just a few photos. This is the best way to get an idea of their hand and style. If they find someone they like, I would suggest arranging a shooting, maybe an editorial, to see how the make-up artist acts on set and how they work together. Obviously, the ability is important, but it’s not everything. To work as a team, they should have a similar taste and perception.
Where can our readers get connected with you? Thank you for asking. My website link is www.alessandrasemisa.com, it has a portfolio section and all the contacts in it. The social media that I use the most is Instagram and they can find me as @alesemisa_mua . I also have a Facebook page, but it’s not so updated. There you have the link: www.facebook.com/alessandrasemisaMUA/ , the page is called Alessandra Semisa – Make up Artist.
What is one beauty advice that you can give to women? Always be yourself. Create your own style and your own look. The more confident you are the more beautiful you will look. As I said I’m not a fan of beauty standards, I think everyone should find their own expression to be unique. So, whatever makes you feel pretty, just go for it!
What is a perfect day in the life of Alessandra Semisa like? A perfect day needs to include all the things I care the most: my family and my job. It would be a sunny day of spring for sure! On a perfect day, I would shoot a beauty campaign with creative make-up looks, and after work I would have a dinner with all my loved ones eating some super tasty Italian food.
What superpower do you wish you had? Why? That’s such a hard question. Related to my job, I wish I could remove my model’s make-up in a snap of fingers. I always care about them, I remove all the make-up and apply moisturizer and lip balm to make their skin feel nice and hydrated. Sometimes it really takes long time, though. Especially when I do body painting, when I glue little things on the model’s face or when I use glitters. Glitters are the worst thing, they’re beautiful but it takes ages to remove them properly. I wish I could clap my hands and make them disappear.
One thing that bugs you about humans is that…? So many people are mean and selfish. I wish we would all care about others a bit more, and learn to be humble. I can’t stand when they crush someone else just to stand out.
Tell us one thing about yourself people might find surprising. All the props that you see in my portfolio’s beauty shots are handmade by me. I studied arts in the high school and I also attended Brera Art Academy; this background influenced my work as a make-up artist. I love creating props, headpieces, huge necklaces and collars. I always look for different and unusual materials and tools to use and I enjoy this process so much. In my room I have a full body mannequin and a few fake heads to use as a model to create the right size accessories. It’s a bit creepy, but it’s part of the game.