Emily Porter is a freelance makeup artist whose work has appeared in publications such as Wonderland, Hunger and the South China Morning Post. She has also worked on commercial and editorial campaigns including Volkswagen and Motel, as well as offering a bridal and special occasion makeup service to private clients.
I was lucky enough to collaborate with Emily recently on the photoshoot for my new Supernova collection. It was a delight to watch a pro at work and fascinating to see how much prep is needed to create even a very subtle ‘barely there’ look.
So Emily, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and how you became a makeup artist?
Hello! Sure thing, I'm a full-time makeup artist and have been working in the industry for 6 years (blimey...it has gone very quickly!). I began working on makeup counters, and while the sales targets and pushy selling techniques were not for me, it was a blessing in that it was a great way to practice makeup on tonnes of different skins, ages and genders. The hefty discount allowed me to begin building my makeup kit and in April 2013 I attended a makeup course lead by Louise Constad. After this, Louise took me out on jobs with her as an assistant and I went freelance from there!
I came to makeup late, I was very creative and imaginative but was encouraged to study at university. Throughout university and for a while afterwards I worked up to assistant manager level at bars, clubs and pubs in Brighton. Meeting my (now) husband gave me the boost I needed to pursue my interest in makeup, and now I couldn't imagine me doing anything else.
So, coming to it as a second career, what have been some of the challenges you faced?
In terms of challenges, and I am sure you can relate to owning your own business too, is that you never 'switch off' and it can be really difficult to take time off. I've now got to a point in my career where I am able to take what I call a 'proper' day off here and there, where my phone is on airplane mode and emails and messages wait till the next day. It's difficult, because the reality is, if you don't get back to people within a suitable time period, they will find someone else. Everyone is a makeup artist at the moment and its very competitive!
How do you balance the different elements of your job?
It can be difficult during busy periods because there is only one of me! There's only so many appointments I can fit into a day, and only so much time I have to reply to emails or missed calls. With regards to balancing my bridal work with my fashion work, it can work quite well. Weddings get booked so far in advance whereas I might get an email at 10pm the night before from a fashion job asking if I'm available. If I am, then I go and do it!
What has been your favourite campaign to work on and why?
This doesn't really count as a campaign, but twice a year I work on the teams at London, Milan and Paris fashion week. It's such a highlight of my working year, being creative every day and working with top models. I was lucky enough to do Adwoa Aboah's makeup backstage last year, and she is such a huge influence on the industry right now.
I love seeing how different makeup artists like to work and what products they have in their kit. I've been lucky enough to assist makeup artists such as Lucia Pica (Chanel's global makeup designer), Lucy Bridge and Lauren Parsons. Shows I've been lucky enough to work on include Gucci, Celine and Burberry.
Where does your creative inspiration come from?
This will sound so cliche, but everywhere. I have an Art History degree so I reference a lot of art in my inspiration. I've recently come to appreciate film, and the influence it can have on peoples aesthetic decisions and tastes.
I also love looking at how film hair and makeup artists create a character through subtle decisions with their design and carrying it through to my work with models. I work with some really talented, intelligent photographers who send me such amazing mood boards that they can bring ideas and influence my process in regards to makeup design, making some results that I wouldn't necessarily have come up with if left to my own means.
I think it's all about collaboration in the end, everyone you work with will have different knowledge and interests that brought together can make really wonderful imagery.
Any dos/don’ts for others who might be interested in pursuing it as a career?
My advice would be to test the waters to check this really is the career for you, because it isn't easy or glamorous the way people make it out to be! I've had more 3am, 4am alarms than I care to remember, it takes a great level of commitment and enthusiasm and it can be quite physically demanding! This said, I do love my job, and not many people are lucky enough to say this.
There's also so many avenues with makeup that any aspiring makeup artist needs to consider which area they want to be in- film and television makeup artists don't tend to overlap into fashion or editorial. They require separate training. Bridal is fantastic because its such a wonderful time in someone's life to be a part of, and I have met some really fabulous, interesting women and families over the last few years.
I would also encourage people to do things 'properly'; don't run before you can walk. Hone your craft, assist, don't step on other peoples toes and work hard to make your own contacts. Thank you very much Elin for asking me to be a part of your blog!
Thanks so much Emily, it's absolutely fascinating to hear about what goes on behind the scenes. You can check out Emily's work over on her website www.emilyportermakeup.com and via her Instagram feed @emilylaurenbeth