What is your background?
I grew up in Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset. I studied exercise and nutrition at university, but after finishing my degree I was so sick of talking about food and movement that I made the decision not to pursue this as a career. At that time I was unsure what I really wanted to do so I took a job working for an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA). I stayed for eight years and then I moved to the BBC where I worked across music and makeup. During this time I was on a mission to learn makeup skills and essentially I was self-taught. I endeavoured to work with as many people as I could, but the BBC taught me that media makeup was not for me. I think there is a huge misconception that you suddenly just start working as a makeup artist, but with bills to pay, I still needed to work.
What or who inspired you to become a makeup artist?
Acne. I started to breakout on my cheeks really badly when I was 20. It was an awful time and tremendously stressful, my skin was bright red and around 80% of my cheeks were covered in blemishes. They were the form of blemishes that didn’t come to a head so I became obsessed with finding a ‘cure’ and/or covering up the breakouts. I wanted my skin to look good and that was the trigger for becoming interested in makeup. I learnt most of my techniques from Kevyn Aucoin’s makeup books together with a really old book by Way Bandy. I still have that book and it is still as amazing as the first time I read it. Per se, I wasn’t taught by a makeup artist, but YouTube was a great source of inspiration.
You are a YouTube phenomenon; what was the subject of your first ever video?
The very first video I filmed was on contouring, which really wasn’t mainstream eight years ago. Instagram had yet to be founded and I noticed that YouTube had many talented people talking about makeup, but nobody was really showing ‘how to’ apply makeup or explaining in full detail how to achieve a certain look. I made the decision that I wanted to do that, to explain something and then break it down in manageable chunks so that people could achieve a specific look for themselves. In a way it is of course educational, but it was a very slow process in the beginning. I started with a few followers and the truth is that the growth was so slow, I didn’t really envisage or even dream about the following I have now.
People always ask me ‘how do you get followers’ and I always respond in the same way – one at a time. There is no short-cut. No quick fix.
To date, which video has received the biggest response?
Probably the Kim Kardashian concealer video and the Kim Kardashian contouring video. When they were released the response was huge and to this day they continue to do extraordinarily well.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
Honestly – money. In the beginning I had no money whatsoever, so I bought things from stores that were selling out-of-date makeup at knockdown prices. I would buy anything I could afford or could get my hands on. I really wanted to go to makeup school, but I truly couldn’t afford it. It took about five years to save up enough money to finally attend. I honestly thought I needed ‘training’ in order to progress, but actually I was mistaken. By the time I attended the course I had been self-taught for nearly nine years, so upon reflection it wasn’t the best money spent. My current view is that I think going to a makeup school is a great place to learn techniques, but it is not a pre-requisite.
If you could choose one make-up product and one skincare product that has changed your life, what would these be and why?
Makeup: Blusher. It is just so pretty and it instantly makes your skin look beautiful.
Skin: Sunscreen. As somebody who has had several moles removed, I would always say protect your skin.
How do you see makeup evolving over the next five years?
I think makeup will continue to evolve with more extreme makeup looks, heavy foundation and heavy filters on social media channels. I don’t see that going away – ever. What I would like to see is more honesty in what is really possible with makeup and makeup effects.
As a makeup artist, what are your three essential products?
Foundation. Blusher. Powder. Simple, but I’m a simple boy!
You are an avid reader; which three books have made the biggest impact on you and why?
Flowers In The Attic: Honestly this book really moved me. It was the saddest, but most beautiful read and it still lingers to this day.
Dirty Weekend: It was mainly the title that got me, but how wrong I was. Again, it is beautifully written, funny, engaging and enraging at the same time. I think we all have a little ‘Bella’ in us.
Stop The Insanity: This is the first book I read on nutrition and at the time I fell in love with it. While I don’t necessarily believe the information now, it was funny, entertaining and motivational. It was written by a single mother who literally worked out how to find out how much fat was in the foods we were eating and how we were being lied to.
What makes you happy?
Honestly, I’m still not sure. I am still looking; I am still searching, but music is soothing. I love music. My favourite type of music is the slow atmospheric stuff and my three favourite artists are:
Lana Del Rey: There is something about her sound that really appeals to me together with the darkness of the lyrics.
Sarah McLachlan: Her voice is just perfection.
Heather Nova: Again, the voice of an angel with deep reflective lyrics.