Congrats on your win! How does it feel to win your first Contessa award and be named the Makeup Artist of the Year?
I wish there was a way to describe it! Very excited and very happy; it felt like a dream come true. There are so many incredible artists across Canada and I was just happy to be among them. To go up on stage was like whoa—it was amazing!
I’ve started entering the Contessa Awards about five years ago when I was roughly five years into my career, and it just kind of happened. Since I started taking an interest in cosmetology, I always took photos of people and things—whether it’s clients behind the chair, a building outside, or doing makeup on myself—so entering competitions just happened after that.
What was the inspiration for your collection? How did you come up with the concept for it?
It usually starts as one thing and then it builds on itself. I found a yellow Banana Republic blazer while I was thrifting and it inspired the idea of doing a photo shoot with a yellow backdrop with the model’s hair slicked back. A lot came to me with that one look. From there, the collection built on itself. Originally, I really wanted to do a collection featuring the three primary colours and with models of different skin tones—pairing the colours that suited with the models best—but the idea shifted, and the red turned to pink. From there, I started to think to myself, “What can I do that I do differently? What is it that I want to go for?” and then decided that I want patterns and texture on the makeup. I noticed that checkers and swirls are really in style, and I think they’re going to pick up a lot in the upcoming year. I decided I wanted to do a trendy checkered eye look and from there, I decided to do a swirl eye look. I found a swirl shirt while I was thrifting to match. A lot of the inspiration comes from fashion and what I think is in style. I also keep in mind the basics I learned in school, like complementary colours and what is flattering on skin tones.
How did you create the looks? What are some of the techniques you used?
What I try to do is just practise a lot! Especially when I’m at a shoot, I don’t want it to be the first time I’m executing a look. Last year, I shot a photo that had a pattern on the eyes and I thought to myself, “Wow this is the first photo that I’ve done that I am really proud of!” Once I learned that patterned looks are what I’m good at, I decided to go all in. I focused on how I could get the lines to be as clean as possible, and what products I can use to get the look as sharp as I can. I really focused on that and played around with products on myself. I did each of these looks on myself probably 20 times, just trying different ways of doing it to get it nice and clean. With a lot of the lines in my look, it was very challenging to get them as clean as I wanted. I practised and worked really hard before the shoot because I didn’t want to go in with sloppy work.
In terms of the technique, I think it really comes down to having the right brush, the right products and just practising over and over and finding a way to make it work. I tried so many different eyeliners and so many different ways to complete the swirl look to match the shirt. Finally, I ended up using a piece of thread as the base of the liner and I just built the product on that. I remember being so frustrated with trying the look over and over again and I was just looking at the swirls on the shirt thinking, “How am I going to make this work?” Then, I thought of the idea to glue a piece of thread onto the eye and follow that line instead of free-handing the swirls myself. It was a lot of trial and error.
It sounds like a lot of attention to detail was required for these looks. Would you say that’s something you always had from when you first started in the industry or is that something you developed while working in the industry?
I would say that as my skills improved, my ability to execute improved. When I first started doing hair and makeup, I always wanted everything to look perfect but sometimes you don’t have the skills to achieve that right away. After a lot of practising and learning, and being in the industry for 10 years, now I feel like I can execute the way I want. It definitely took a long time to get here but I’ve always had that kind of trait of trying to make things perfect.
Do you have any mentors in the industry?
I didn’t necessarily have mentorship, but I would look to other people for inspiration. Damien Carney is someone who inspired me. I really look up to his work and I always thought his work was just stunning and the kind that I would like to create. After I had been a Contessa finalist for the first time, I went to New York in 2018 to attend his two-day workshop on photography and it really inspired me to keep going. I kept in touch with him over the years and I would send him my collections and he would give me feedback and tips on how I could improve.
Also, I’ve always looked up to Michelle Oliver, who just won so many categories this year at the Contessa Awards. She’s so kind. I’ve been in touch with her this year for an unrelated project and I got to meet her as well. I’ve always just tried to reach out to people whose work inspired me so that I could build relationships and learn as much as I can, so that I could create work that was just as good.
What do you enjoy most about competing? What have been some of your key takeaways from the experience?
I love the process of planning and working out those kinks. I really enjoy doing it and it’s really fun for me. This is my first year reaping the benefits of the process and actually winning, so I don’t want to say winning is my favourite part but it really does blow my mind that we can be recognized for creativity. After my win at the Contessas this year, I couldn’t believe how kind people were to me and how many people who I didn’t know came up to me to congratulate me and compliment my collection.
What’s next for you? Anything you’re working on or do you have any goals you’re working towards accomplishing this year?
After the Contessas, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me to see if I offer classes of my own for makeup. I’ve always wanted to teach makeup and I’ve taught classes, but I think I want to create my own makeup masterclasses from beginner to makeup artistry, and offer people next steps and tips. I also want to offer seminars for hair and take my educator role further. Of course, I also want to create more photoshoots and enter Contessa again. Every year, I want to outdo myself and collaborate with more people.