Local In London
Jersey born make-up artist Laura Forrest moved to London in 2007 to pursue a career in lipstick, powder and paint. I caught up with Laura and had a girly chat about fake eyelashes, suitcases full of foundation and The X-Factor.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO MAKE-UP?
I’ve always had a passion for anything cosmetic. Hair products, skincare, and nails – it was something I’ve always been excited by and still am. I think I know everything about a cult product or brand that’s been out since I was about 14. I also suffered from really bad skin when I was a teenager so I had to learn quickly how to cover it up, and I really think the fascination with make-up probably stems from this. I have a degree in something completely unrelated; Sport and Exercise Science, but I knew towards the end of my studies that it really wasn’t my passion. After graduating and to the horror of my parents, I started to manage a make-up counter in a department store in Bath. It was quite strange because at the age of 18, when filling out my UCAS form, I applied to do both Sports Science at Bath University and also Specialist Hair & Make-up at the London College of Fashion, but after my career adviser saw this she said I could not apply for two such different things on the form so I chose to do Sports Science for some reason. After three years of working for different retail cosmetic brands and building up basic skills, I decided I wanted to take things further but wasn’t really sure how to, so I came back home to Jersey to work and save some money. Within a year, I had set my mind on becoming a freelance make-up artist. After a lot of research and talking to friends I decided to apply to the Jemma Kidd Make-up School in West London to do an intensive make-up artistry course. I wanted and needed a proper qualification in this field.
WHY THE MOVE TO LONDON?
The only place to be for this kind of work is London or New York. Each time I’d visited London in the past, I absolutely loved it and knew it was a place I could easily settle in, and it also wasn’t too far from home. Pretty much all major magazine companies, agencies, fashion houses and famous studios are based in or near to London. It just made complete sense to be here.
Luckily for me, I also had a good base of friends living in London, which made things a lot easier. Jemma Kidd School was a great place to learn, it took you to a level of make-up application that I didn’t know existed – so much precision and technique that I didn’t have before. The director of education was the best in the UK. It wasn’t just about technique and application either; we did history of make-up (did you know women used to use mice tails stuck to their face as eyebrows during the bubonic plague as they had to shave off their bodily hair?!). Physiology of the skin, bone structure, airbrushing, colour wheels and then on top of that it was the technique and application. It was also good to learn from someone so experienced in the industry. We learnt from celebrity artists who also let us in on some of their tips and tricks (something along the lines of a tape that you can temporarily use to give you an eye-lift – like boob tape for the face!). On a daily basis, we would have an area we would be focusing on, probably a lecture or a demonstration in the morning and in the afternoon would be hands-on application and practicing technique – for example ‘brow blocking’. This is used to remove a person’s eyebrows completely via the use of makeup, so they can be ‘faked’ back on by make-up, i.e. put on higher, at a different angle etc. It’s quite a lengthy process but has been useful, especially at fashion shows where the looks are often avant-garde. Some top models will actually have half their brow shaved off so when they go to shoots, the artist can just draw the rest on at the angle or shape needed, rather than having to block them or bleach them off. Sounds strange, but brows are so important!
A year after you graduated you could also have the team at the school still mentoring you, so if you ever needed any questions answered, you could just drop in or send an email. They would also pass jobs onto you and if Jemma herself was doing any shows or anything, you had the opportunity to assist her.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST JOB YOU LANDED?
After I graduated from the Jemma Kidd School, I went and worked alongside their pro team backstage at the Clothes Show Live for four days. It still is one of the most memorable jobs I’ve ever done, probably because it was all so new and exciting. It gave me a great insight about how the industry would be. The backstage buzz was fantastic and the huge team of models, dancers, hair-stylists, make-up artists and production had amazing camaraderie. Even though I hardly ate or slept, I came away feeling so happy about the career I had chosen and knew it was exactly where I wanted to be.
From there I had some jobs working on magazines, bridals and shows whilst I started to build up my portfolio. A portfolio is necessary to showcase your work to potential clients and agencies, so it took me around six months, and around 40 test shoots to get enough images together of my work. Sometimes you get shots back from the photographer that aren’t good enough to use, aren’t retouched (Yes, you have to use digital enhancing), and sometimes you frustratingly don’t get anything back at all. As my money started to deplete (test shoots you work for free, simply to get the images for your portfolio) I took up a part time job as a make-up artist within a Space NK boutique. This allowed me to get some form of income, still practicing my skills, whilst building up my freelance profile at the same time.
I am now part of a make-up artist agency and I also assist top make-up artists in their work. I have worked alongside people such as Claudia Schiffer, Rankin, Erin O’Connor, The Saturdays, Kelly Osborne and The Prodigy. It can be really fun but not always as glamorous as everyone thinks. I think back to fashion shows when myself and other make-up artists are on our hands and knees prepping the models legs, covering bruises or marks, with seconds to go before they hit the catwalk. I’ve worked six seasons of LFW now, which is extremely hard work but definitely good for experience. You need to be quite a strong person to work in that type of environment though and most of the things you imagine going on, do go on… temper tantrums, crying models, fainting, anorexia. I even heard mention of a size minus two at a recent shoot I did. There are many stories and gossip you hear on this scene, and it’s unprofessional to start talking about celebrities and their behavior…it could affect your reputation. At the last show I did, the first model tripped up a step and fell face first onto the catwalk, so the audience could just see her head on the floor… ever the professional, she just got back up and went down the runway, smirk-free. Very fashion. We may have had a little smirk about it backstage.
HAVE YOU GOT ANY MAKE-UP TIPS THAT GIRLS CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT AND ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR THIS SEASON’S CHRISTMAS PARTIES?
Parties = false lashes. They are a must and no brand beats Shu Uemura, not even nearly. The best glamour lashes are either ‘Smoky Layers’ (Cheryl Cole wears these) or my personal favourites are ‘Luxe Black’. Tips for applying lashes – don’t be afraid to see how they fit on the lid before you apply glue, and if they are sitting all the way across your lash line, cut the ends off. They should sit along ¾ of the lash line so they don’t poke into the corners of your eyes which make them uncomfortable and make you start playing with them and then end up falling off. Corner lashes may be a safer bet if you aren’t used to wearing full lashes. Another good tip, especially if you are wearing heavy smoky eyes is to do your eye make-up first, then when/if it drops all under your eyes, you can wipe this away and then do your base so it stays really clean and fresh. If you are the type of girl who prefers a bold lip and less on the eye, then a good trick is to apply your lip liner and lipstick as normal, and then after this get a flat synthetic brush and tidy up the edges with a flesh-coloured concealer. The contrast of the bright colour and clean skin will really make the colour pop.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I definitely prefer the more commercial side of things, so maybe not so much fashion. I have done a few music videos, things for MTV but not a lot of TV or film work. TV is something I am going to try and get into more next year. With the whole HD revolution now, the make-up up has changed quite dramatically as you can see every detail. It may sound strange but I would love to do a season on X Factor next year, there is a huge make-up team on set, but hopefully through my contacts I can worm my way on the team. It’s a good way to start TV work I think, as the work is regular and can get very creative. Film work is slightly different. You need to do special effects, prosthetics and wig making and that is something I would have to train in. It’s a long old struggle to get to the top of this game, and I know I am going to have to put a lot of work in over the next few years to really succeed. Hopefully, in 5 years time I will doing some travelling around the world with the job, touring with a band would be really good, so hopefully something like that would be nice in the future.
To find out more make-up tips and to keep up with Laura check out www.lauraloumakeupbeauty.blogspot.com or add her on www.facebook.com/lauralouisemakeup