Aspiring Makeup Artist Adventures: Body Painting and Theater Makeup

(Photo credit Bria Anne Beauty, the key artist for The Wicked and The Wonderful)

I’ve been involved in the beauty industry for several years now as a beauty blogger and influencer.

I’ve always been interested in makeup, since I was a kid applying my first pink Wet n’ Wild lipstick that my mom bought me at Woolworth’s.

Over the years,I’ve had the opportunity to stretch creative makeup muscles; while mostly on my own face, I’ve done bridal makeup and I did a year + as an associate at Ulta, where I especially loved helping customers find the right foundation shade and giving them demos of color products on their own faces.

As each year has passed, and I find myself gravitating toward covering the education offered at the trade shows (not just the brands and products to feature) I realized that “blogger” was not the end-all-be-all of my makeup industry journey.

I really want to do makeup and be a freelance makeup artist.

I’ve held off on pursuing this dream. I can’t afford schooling, and my career is demanding and my current role unpredictable; there are days I can walk out at 5 p.m. and days I walk out at 9 p.m. And I love my career. This isn’t even intended as a career change!

For a long time, I put this off because I thought I needed that formal education. Then last year, I met a local makeup artist who pursued her own dream of becoming an artist and studied through an online makeup school. I wrote a feature about her for the paper I freelance with; through our interview, I learned she had great opportunities through strong hustle that I find admirable. And inspiring. I thought, maybe I should just take the leap and look into this.

I researched online makeup schools. I read the good. I read the bad. I was unsure what to do and I held off. It was definitely more affordable than attending a cosmetology school, and more specific to makeup studies.

I’ve made so many industry friends over the years, and while at one of the trade shows earlier this year, I started asking these folks for their opinions; Is online education reputable/acceptable? Regardless – should I really just wait for the opportunity to go to school?

What I heard shocked – and motivated – me even more. Not just from my interpersonal conversations but from sessions I attended.

If I want to do this, I should simply START DOING IT.

When Kryolan artist Kelly Thompson told me I should look into classes, that Kryolan has them all the time, I looked at the website and found a Beauty Fundamentals class. I signed up immediately.

I took Beauty Fundamentals last month, and I learned so much about color theory, foundation matching, brows, bronzing/contouring/highlight…I understand that the class was not in-depth and doesn’t take the place of the hours I’d spend in a classroom truly learning technique and theory. But we spent a lot of time on color theory and foundation, areas I was most curious about, and felt most insecure about. I also learned a bit about ingredients that aren’t good for camera flashback.

I’ve learned over the last few months in this journey that one of the most important things a makeup artist should know is the ingredients in the cosmetics they choose to use on clients, as well as how to coordinate these ingredients in all products.

I was so pumped, excited and motivated after that class.

As a result of it, I learned about my very first opportunity to jump in and just DO IT.

Enter “Body Notes,” work envisioned by artist Andy Golub, founder of Human Connection Arts and organizer of NYC’s Body Painting Day. Body Notes is inspired by NYC’s “Subway Therapy” art, which featured positive notes on Post-Its after the election. People would wrote the positive thoughts on Post-Its and put them on subway tiles.

I’m not sure what was the final count on models, but I spent several hours one recent, hot Friday in the middle of Times Square, painting nude people! Kryolan was the makeup sponsor and I worked with Kelly, who was lead artist on the project.

I did some of body work but the models actually did a lot of the body painting themselves. Mostly I painted black boxes and the positive sayings on people. The painting was followed by a photo shoot on the bleachers a couple blocks up.

Each person picked what saying they wanted painted on their front. It was an artistic expression of positivity. Here are a few photos I snapped of the sayings I painted, and of the experience.

Please be warned: By the nature of the work, there are some NSFW photos. I debated editing, but decided, ultimately, that this was the project and the art and I let it be:

Painting nude models was outside of my comfort zone not just because it was a body painting job. I’ve never been surrounded by so many naked people – in  Times Square, nonetheless!!!! There were SO many curious bystanders and passersby. Some found the art interesting and others who muttered “freaks” as the models marched to/from the bleachers. It was a cultural experience.

I will not forget this, it was a great opportunity to experience working on the human body as a canvas.

My next opportunity that was out of my comfort zone came from the artist I mentioned earlier, Kelly, who posted about an opportunity to do theatrical makeup for the DreamStreet Theatre Company’s production of The Wicked and The Wonderful. I want to learn everything. So I signed up to work both days.

I was very excited and nervous about this job! I don’t think I’ll be doing much theatrical makeup here in South Jersey, I’m envisioning a lot of bridal/special occasion. But as I aspire to be a makeup artist, I will take every opportunity to learn every aspect of the field that I can. And this was FUN. The experience of being a part of this team was AWESOME.

According to its mission statement, “DreamStreet Theatre Company is a registered, 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides education and inspiration for special needs adults with a passion for the performing and creative arts. Our performances attempt to breakdown stereotypes and illustrate the profound effect art can have on life.”

To tell you that I was continuously moved while watching rehearsals and acts of this play is an understatement. It was TRULY an honor to work with this theater company, and the other artists, who were all much more talented than I!

Bria Anne was the name of our key artist, and again, Kryolan was the sponsor. We used Aquacolor on the actors to create the Tin Man, Lion and Elphaba’s looks. These aren’t photos of all the makeup I personally did, but I wanted to show you the range of characters. I did do the young lion in the second photo, that was the first night!

Apologies for the blurry photos!

I got to experience how hectic it can be when you’re doing makeup right before show time. I got to do beauty makeup on some of the dancers, as well as one of the apple trees. Bria Anne had created sheets with ideas for each character, putting forth a vision for how the cast would be made up.

The second night one of the looks I did was to put exaggerated brows on the Lollipop Guild.

Even more importantly, I worked alongside the nicest, most helpful artists. Makeup Artist Katy Ramirez, one of Kryolan’s NYC team members, offered a teaching moment when I struggled to make a lip look work. Artist Audra was encouraging. Bria Anne was sweet and helpful and so grateful to everyone who helped.

At the end of the day, what I’ve learned in the last two months is that I have so much more to learn, and so much room to grow. I will continue practicing beauty makeup locally on friends and family. I want to create a logo and have a separate landing page on BeautyJudy for my freelance business, where I can include photos of my work.

I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had, and the wonderful people that I continue to learn from.

So this has been quite a long post, I apologize! But I wanted to share this new adventure with you – thank you for reading!!!