Chatting With Joanna Blair- Talented Australian Makeup Artist

This month we are chatting to expert, Joanna Blair, a well known and talented makeup artist from Victoria, Australia. As you will see from our interview she has had an intriguing and varied career and she certainly understands the importance of makeup for all occasions. Most importantly for you brides out there, Joanna provides some fantastic advice on how to choose the perfect makeup artist for your special day! Read on…

Joanna Blair photography by Richard Annable

Joanna Blair
Photography by Richard Annable

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A MAKEUP ARTIST?

I have always had a love of painting – specifically oil painting; this is my favourite medium as I can blend and mix color to achieve a beautiful effect.

I haven’t always been a makeup artist; I was originally trained as a registered nurse and had been working in that field for quite some time. I began feeling really burned out and not enjoying my job any more. I found myself one night, whilst working on night duty, thinking that there must be something I can do that I love and get well paid for it. Not long afterwards, I was sitting at home watching the Oscars on television, when the makeup category came on. It had never occurred to me before to consider a career in makeup. I realised that this was an avenue that I could stretch my creative muscles and earn a living from at the same time. I looked into available courses and ended up jumping on a plane and flying interstate to be interviewed by Oscar winning makeup artist – Mr Peter Frampton (he won an Oscar for Best Makeup for Mel Gibson’s film “Braveheart”). Peter had retired out of feature film and was now teaching. He interviewed potential students and then hand picks who he wanted. I was so fortunate to be accepted and trained by Peter personally.

koukei photo shoot 002(1)

Makeup by Joanna Blair
Koukei Photo Shoot

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING A MAKEUP ARTIST?

For me it is the ability to really bring out the full beauty of a client’s features – to show them what is possible. I love it that I can so easily render skin flawless and translucent; intensify eye color; really enhance eye shape and often turn back the clock in some instances – all with the stroke of a brush!

I’ve been working as a makeup artist for 13 years now and I find it very rewarding when a client sees herself in the mirror when I’ve finished and is so happy with how she looks; the lift in confidence and mood is immediate – I’ve even had a couple of occasions where the client has shed a tear because she simply didn’t realise that she could look so beautiful – I love that!

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR MAKEUP SCHOOL?

I’ve done many makeup jobs (not to mention courses!) over the years and have acquired a wealth of knowledge and experience; I found that when I was working, it was not uncommon for someone to say to me that they would love to learn what I do and do it for a living. So, as I always enjoy passing on tips and tricks, I decided to open my own school.

I teach Beginners and Advanced Courses and have structured the tuition so that coming into Beginners, the student doesn’t need any knowledge, skill or prior experience to excel in this field. Over my working life I have discovered many amazing products and brushes that make my life as a professional so much easier. With this in mind, I have incorporated a number of different brands across all areas of makeup so that student is not only gaining a strong grounding in product knowledge, but they are training on the best products available in order for them to execute very high quality work – which of course, translates into becoming in demand for work. In Beginners they learn and gain strong skills with matching skin tones and achieving a flawless face; enhancing eye shape (learning 6 different eye techniques to achieve gorgeous eye makeup); applying false lashes of various designs, lengths and types as well as anti-aging techniques and Mother of the Bride makeup too. I also comprehensively cover the business aspect of getting your career off the ground and gaining work.

I then take them into the Advanced Course whereby their skill set is massively ramped up – going into much more advanced techniques for Bridal; teaching them High Fashion makeup; Vintage makeup (this is very important as many makeup designs originated from Vintage designs) as well as touching on a bit of prosthetic makeup too. This course really gives them the “wow” factor to their work.

At the end of both Beginners and Advanced courses, the girls have the opportunity to do a photo shoot with Peter Coulson, who has won Fashion Photographer of the Year, 3 years in a row. It’s a great opportunity for them to work with such a high calibre photographer; it also ensures that their portfolios are starting with the highest quality photos possible. I am on hand at this shoot to guide and supervise them. After the completion of their course, I am also available at any time to my students for mentoring and advice.

Through my school I am also able to offer my students great opportunities for work experience including photo shoots, film work; music video and so on. My students gain consistent work in the bridal and special occasion industry too.

Earlier this year I also commenced courses for Hairstyling – Beginners and Advanced; geared for anyone wishing to do bridal and special occasion styling, as well as styling for fashion.

Courses run one night a week for 10 weeks 6.30pm until 9.30pm – Beginners Makeup is on Monday evenings; Advanced Makeup is on Tuesday evenings; Beginners Hairstyling is Wednesday evenings and Advanced Hairstyling is on Thursday evenings. Course location is Braeside. Website for the school is www.learnmakeup.com.au

Peter - Stefania

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

I would say it’s hard to pin down just one achievement! I’m quite proud of myself that I have been able to build up a strong business and reputation without ever having to work for an agency. I’m also very grateful that I have had the opportunity to work with some industry greats – amongst them would be photographers like Peter Coulson (Fashion Photographer of the Year) and Ian Golding (who shoots L’Oreal’s campaigns); as well as some amazing hairdressers including Lorna Evans (Victorian Hairdresser of the Year) and Deanne Leigh. I have also met some really great women through all the wedding work I do, which is a constant source of “how lucky am I!”  moments!

But probably my proudest achievement is starting my own school and then seeing the success that students that I have personally taught, who have never picked up a makeup brush before coming to me, are achieving. It thrills me when I have students who are straight out of my course doing makeup for the Logies; or being approached to do a TV advertising commercial for NAB Bank; or that they have done 5 weddings last month. They will often send me through their latest work from jobs they have just done and seeing that their work is of really high standard, that they are being asked back and they are being referred on for more jobs. I just love that and I would say that is my greatest achievement to date!

Joanna Blair - Photography Natalie Davies 023

Makeup By Joanna Blair
Photography by Natalie Davies

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO BRIDES WHO ARE TRYING TO CHOOSE THEIR MAKEUP ARTIST?

First of all I would say recommendations are always good and can save you a lot of time – if you know someone who has recently gotten married, especially if you liked how their makeup looked on their wedding day; ask them who the artist was.

Failing that, when looking online at makeup artists (and there are many of us!!), I would be looking for a strong body of work. By that I mean – do they have photos of many different brides on their site, including girls who have different skin tones and racial background; or do they just have essentially two or three brides but many photos of the same bridal party. You want to find someone who is experienced with matching skin tones perfectly and is skilled at dealing with all sorts of different face shapes, eye and hair color as well as the makeup being congruent with the theme of the dress. When looking at their photos I would also determine whether you like their style of makeup. For example many Australian brides prefer a more natural and soft look; whereas if I’m doing a Turkish or Middle Eastern wedding, these brides often prefer a much more dramatic and heavier makeup. So looking at whether the makeup artist can do the style of look you feel you would be comfortable with.

Questions I would ask when enquiring are: What products do they use? Is it just one brand of makeup (in my experience no one brand is fabulous across all products – they may have amazing eyeshadow, but the foundation is not as good as others on the market) – I would look for someone who uses a variety of brands. I would also advise not going for ultra cheap, you tend to get what you pay for in this industry. I think how you look on your wedding day is a huge part of the day and you don’t want to be let down by having unflattering, badly applied makeup that will be forever recorded in your wedding album.

Definitely always have a trial. At the trial you have plenty of time to go through ideas and make sure you are completely happy with the look. It also gives you the opportunity to see how it holds up over the course of the day and how it feels on your skin. A good makeup artist should be able to apply a flawless makeup that will only require touching up of a bit of pressed powder (particularly if it’s a hot day, or tears occur) and re-application of lippy – that’s it, everything else should remain perfect until you go to bed. At the trial, does the makeup artist listen to what you want, or does she just do whatever she feels looks good on you regardless? A talented makeup artist will be able to make you look your best, but keep in mind, makeup is very subjective; what one person thinks is very attractive, another may not. At the end of the day, you are paying the artist to execute the look that you personally want, not her idea of what you should have. She can suggest and guide you, but it is imperative that the end result makes you feel you’re most beautiful and that you are comfortable with the look.

Look for an artist who listens to you and who you feel at ease with, it’s not essential to have photos of makeup looks you like, but it can help when conveying your ideas across. A great makeup artist will easily be able determine the right look for you simply by asking you a few basic questions before she starts.

All in all, it should be a relaxing and pampering experience from start to finish!

Thanks for your time Jo and for giving such valuable advice to our brides. You are an inspiration for us all to follow our aspirations! Make sure you checkout Joanna’s website at http://www.joannablair.com.au/

Click here for more information on how to choose the PERFECT makeup artist!

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