Makeup Artist Jennifer Little: “Be prepared to be more than just a makeup artist on set. “
Jennifer, can you please briefly introduce yourself. How did your career begin in the world of makeup artistry? How did you discover a love for makeup? My name is Jennifer Little. 33. Capricorn. I’ve been a professional Makeup Artist & Bodypainter in Vancouver BC for 15years this spring. I did extra work in film and a little bit of modeling in my teens, so the industry was something I was always sort of drawn to. I began my career first by getting my diploma from world renowned Blanche Macdonald Center (where I currently teach), and then working at makeup counters and doing as many creative shoots I could, building a strong portfolio, clientele and network. I wasn’t really into makeup growing up perse, but I was always a very artsy, imaginative child, putting on plays and playing dress up constantly. It all happened pretty honestly. I originally wanted to be a Photographer, so I’m happy that I haven’t strayed too far from my original plan. Photography is the next thing I will be adding to my repertoire.
Do you remember what was your first job as a makeup artist? That would have to be representing a men’s skin care line at Holt Renfrew, then full time at the makeup counter at Shoppers Drug Mart, and also volunteering at as many fashion shows as I could.
What do you love most about being a makeup artist and why? Creative expression & freedom. I feel it’s an outlet for me to create fantastical things and bring them to life. Making people feel beautiful and confidant. There is definitely an element of magic to it.
What’s your beauty philosophy? Be genuine, brave, kind, open & patient. Stay true to your self and your art, that is truly a beautiful thing.
What do you think are some of the keys to being a successful makeup artist? Patience. Trust that it will all come together. Building a strong network of professionals whom you equally support as they do you. Challenge yourself. Listening to your clients. Putting yourself out there and hanging on for dear life!
What is the most challenging obstacle you’ve had to overcome? As a Freelance Artist of any persuasion, every day can be a challenge. Getting yourself to a healthy space where you can freely and creatively express yourself to a level you are personally happy with can be a huge challenge. Life happens and sometimes, art cannot flow. Finding that peace and confidence in yourself can be hard. I have battled depression in my life on and off. It is definitely an obstacle. Making ends meet and the stress of it all can be trying. People want the best of the best but rarely want to pay what its worth. Vancouver is also one of the most expensive places in the world, so there’s always that.
What made you decide to go into the body art field? What is it about body painting that appeals to you? The WOW factor! I have always been intrigued by the human form and different artistic mediums. To blend them seems perfectly natural to me. I think I find it more interactive and challenging, so of course I would be drawn to it. I had been doing Makeup for a couple years before I happened into bodypaint at some local trade shows. It was starting to make a mainstream splash in the fashion and entertainment world too, so it was definitely on my radar for a long time before I really got into it. Jennifer, what’s the most unusual request for a piece of body art you’ve ever had? There have been a couple pretty inappropriate requests from guys, as I’m sure you can imagine. I generally shut down that conversation with an exuberant amount of money for the job, and they back off sheepishly. I did a UV Giger bodypaint on a local Burlesque performer, Tristan Risk a few years ago. That was a pretty awesome to witness come to life on stage!
In terms of character/FX looks what are some products that you can’t live without in your kit? Why? I don’t do a lot of big FX applications, mostly I achieve effects through paint, but I do often use the following…Liquiset. I mix my bodypaints with it for durability and I can also set my beauty makeups with it. DUO glue for lashes, jewels, glitter, feathers, etc etc. Telisus adhesive is also fantastic for the heavier applications. Liquid latex, cause you never know when that’ll come in handy. Surgical tape for pasties if needed. Where do you pull your inspiration from to help you with your makeup and body-painting looks? Depending what the project is, I’ll find inspiration from anything, be it nature, weather, seasons, food, flora, fauna, even current events and fashion. Sometimes it’s just one person who triggers something that I just have to transform them into. Everywhere and nowhere all at once.
What is the difference between applying makeup for a TV shoot and applying makeup for a live appearance party? Why is shooting for camera and lights, different then everyday makeup? Makeup for TV, especially HDTV, should be flawless and finished, but not over done or too dramatic, depending on the concept of course. News reporter vs. avant garde. Gone are the days where you packed on the cake foundation and went to set. Airbrushing has had a huge increase in TV & film because of its fast application and flawless, light finish. Live performance makeup is usually stronger, more dramatic, sometimes even exaggerated so it can read across a room. More theatrical, depending on the character or concept. What advice would you give to photographers when they are choosing a makeup artist? Communication is key! Give your Makeup Artist as much information about the look and feel of the image you want to create. Also let them know how you would like to shoot it and what the location you’re shooting at is like so they can plan for things like the elements, lighting and durability. Ask to see their portfolio and send them yours.
In your opinion, what are common mistakes you see women make on their makeup? Are there any old makeup myths that people should throw out the window? Stop over contouring, highlighting, strobing or whatever you kids are calling it these days! Everyday street wearable makeup should not look like a filtered, over processed, insta fake face. Your skin should look like healthy, fresh skin, not painted on. In real life, less is more. Save the rest for the professionals. Book a lesson and learn properly what looks best for your complexion, face shape and age appropriate. Hydrate hydrate hydrate!! Inside and out! Also, wash your brushes more often! Share your secret, what are your top five favorite makeup products? Kryolan Aqua Colour Bodypaints. Makeup Forever Pro cream palette. BenNye Media Pro concealer pallette & Kat VonD Lock It Tattoo concealers. Temptu Airbrush foundations & Revlon ColourStay foundation. Loreal Voluminous Mascara. If you turn up at a show/shoot and the model has terrible skin, what do you do? Don’t panic! Treat it as any other client. Professionally. Cleanse, moisturize & prep their face according to their skins needs. Take your time with concealer and blend out the edges. Don’t make them feel like it’s a big deal, because if you’re a good artist, it won’t be. I will sometimes ask what their skin care and diet is, and if they wash their brushes. Sometimes it can be a simple answer and a relatively easy fix, or at least give them suggestions of what may help in order to start a path to healthier skin and how to maintain it. What do you tell clients who ask you to do a look that you know will never suit them? Does everyone look better with make-up? I explain why that look wont suit their face in a gentle yet firm way, then suggest something similar that may only need a couple small changes in order to work for them. Not everyone needs makeup, but everyone probably has something that a touch of makeup could help. Some well blended concealer for hereditary under eye circles, slightly more defined but still natural lips, or a different mascara. Most of the time, I suggest a proper skin care regimen to take care of the canvas first.
In terms of traveling, what is some advice you can give someone that is about to travel with their kit? Put everything on wheels! Get a good rolling kit and wear supportive foot wear. Minimize liquids if possible. Don’t take everything each time. If you can, only bring what you absolutely need for that job, plus a few other basics to cover your bases. Stretch! Eat! Hydrate!
What advice would you give to makeup artists starting out and trying to find photographers to work with? You will do a lot of TFP (trade for print). It will feel like too much. Starting out you have to build your portfolio quickly but don’t rush your work either. Make a list of concepts to present to photographers and see what inspires them so you can produce your best work together. Meet up and consult with your team so you can get a feel of the energy and the look you want to create as a team. Be prepared to be more than just a makeup artist on set. Many times I have stepped in as a lighting assistant or model wrangler. Be flexible and willing to help. You will have to wait a long time for some photos. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. Ask permission to take bts or teasers and do not post them unless you have permission. Do not be the person who loses a submission because you released an image prematurely. Pay attention and learn from them.
How do you use social media in conjunction with your business? What role does it play in your job? I use Social Media in several ways that have proven successful for me. The obvious one being to showcase my art, events I am working with, and of course to network with fellow artists. I also have a strong online network of models, photographers, designers, hair stylists, event producers, etc. I post and answer casting calls for everything from Weddings to Fashion Shows and corporate/private events. All the social media avenues make it so easy for potential clients to view my portfolio at their leisure. It plays a very key role in getting my art seen. Most of the time, I work from home, so that is a major bonus for me.
Tell the reader either the funniest, or craziest story based on your experience as a makeup artist. There have been far too many crazy wonderful stories to focus on just one or two. I have witnessed so many crazy backstage antics and egos, I wouldn’t know where to start. One of the crazier, super positive gigs was only a couple years ago when I was booked to bodypaint a team of circus performers for a private event on a private island just off our coast. We were there for 2 days, painting in a private workshop. Once the performers were ready, they slowly revealed themselves from the forest into a decadent and highly staged dinner party in the woods. They were designed to represent local wildlife while they swung from the trees on silks and hoops or danced around the dinner guests while they starred in absolute awe. That was pretty magical. I’d do it again in a heart beat! Working the 2010 Winter Olympics was amazing too. I was stationed in Whistler for the entire month! So many beautiful memories from that!
What would be your final words of wisdom to share? If you truly want to make it in this industry, be prepared to hustle hustle hustle! Own it! Value yourself and your time. Make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t compare your work to others. Step out of your comfort zone as much as possible. Delegate! Support your fellow Artists and they will return the favour. Ask the universe for what you need to succeed. It has a funny way of helping you out, but you have to have the courage to ask. Do not neglect yourself. It’s easy to get swept up in the fast paced lifestyle that can come with this career. Taking breaks and refocusing often will help find balance in your personal and professional life.
What is your favorite thing to do on your spare time? I would like to get out of the city more often to unplug and reset my mind, body and spirit. I do yoga, paint, and have huge long baths. That always helps to relax me. I spend quality time with friends, family and my kitties. Nothing beats a good snuggle. Wine helps! Tell one surprising fact about you. People always think I am a super girly girl because of the industry I am in. They’re usually surprised to find out how rough and tumble I can be. I absolutely love camping and the great outdoors. I will be spending a big chunk of time off the grid this summer, working on a big Art project, fishing, hiking, and seeding oysters at an oyster farm. Very much looking forward to that! I also have 8 tattoos. Now you know 😉