Friday, 27 February 2009

7 Things To Consider When Designing Your Online Portfolio

One of the most important marketing tools you can have under your belt as makeup artist is a website. It always amazes me how many artists I see with profiles on networking sites that haven’t taken the time to set up their own web page. I think a website can give the impression you are serious, committed and professional so its important to develop your web presence and branding early on even if you haven’t got much work to show.

If you have a website or you’re getting ready to launch an online portfolio what can you do to improve the design and make it more user-friendly? Here are some key areas you should think about when designing your website.

In the same way you carefully select pictures for you book keep the images on your website well edited. Clients will usually judge your capabilities after seeing just a few pieces of your work so push the best pieces to the front keeping portfolios small, slick and focused. It is also important to make sure images are optimised for the web as no one wants to waste time waiting for pages to load.

In the western world we read left to right, top to bottom so it makes sense to have your name and tag line (a short, snappy summary of what you do)in the top left corner so straight away the client knows who you are and what you offer.

Cutesy names are all well and good but in my opinion its better to go by your full name. If at some point down the line you get agency representation or see your name in the credits of a film it will be your full name printed not a kooky company name that you will see in print. Get that name out there as early as possible so people start to associate your name with your work straight away.

Your site should be easily accessible, efficient and fast. Those with little time on there hands will not hang around to figure out how to get around your complex website so keep it simple and organised to make it user friendly. Try adding ‘call to action’ buttons or links that are clearly visible to keep viewers moving around the site and to guide them to the pages you want them to see. Check out Kyle Meyer’s post ‘My Last Portfolio Sucked Yours Might Too’ to see see the pitfalls you should avoid when designing your online portfolio. Poor navigation is a top pet peeve!

Target Audience
Consider your target audience and what they want to find when visiting your website. As a makeup artist you may find you work in several different areas that are all looking for something different from you. If this is the case consider creating separate sites particularly if you have a large body of quality work. What one client loves may turn another off completely so think carefully about the work you display and if it is of interest to your target market. Alternatively you could display work targeted at different markets such as film and fashion in separate portfolios on the same site but make sure the overall design is appealing to all clients that may come across you site.

About Page
This is where you get the chance to connect with those viewing your web page by telling them about yourself. Try to keep it focused and to the point whilst still being personable. The most important thing is not to ramble, why use 30 words when 10 will do! Testimonials can also help prospective clients get a feel for the artist behind the portfolio and what you are like to work with. Adding a few choice testimonials can give clients confidence in you as the opinions of a third party count for more that your opinion of yourself. Be sure to include you location in this section too.

Contact Info
Probably one of, if not the most important page on your website so make it clear, concise and easy to find. You can also provide links to social networking sites such a face book or twitter so people know where to find you else where on the web.

Your Service
Clearly state what jobs you are available for and the skills you possess. Don’t leave a potential client wondering if you can help with their project.

Finally, check your site thoroughly for spelling errors and links that don’t work. It also helps to have another eye look over the site to see if there are any navigation problems. Make sure the site looks professional and is polished.

I know this has given me some food for thought as my own site could use some tweaking so let me know if this post has got you thinking about improvements too!

If you have an opinion on any of the points raised or tips you would like to share for successful portfolio building leave me a comment.

Yesterday Lee Munroe posted '10 Steps To The Perfect Portfolio Website' on Smashing Magazine which, having caught my eye, sparked the idea for this post so be sure to check out Lees post too. He goes into even more detail on the points raised and gives some really inspiring examples of websites that uses these ideas to create innovative, well designed user friendly sites.

Sean Hodge of AiBurn has an excellent post, ‘Creating a Successful Online Portfolio’ which also helped me when putting together this post so follow the link and take a look at Sean's post too.

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Top 5 Tips for Portfolio Building

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Caught on Camera! - Backstage at London Fashion Week A/W09

Anyone who has been to any kind of fashion event will know that there are cameras everywhere, especially backstage. You are constantly being filmed or or snapped as photographers try to capture the models transformation but I never know where these pictures end up, if anywhere.

Well I finally found out today where some of these snaps end up....on Kit Lee's blog, The Fashion Assistant and Her Camera. I started following Kit's fashion and photography blog only a few weeks ago so you can image how surprised I was to find a picture of lil' old me doing makeup at the James Long show included in her post on the MAN showcase at LFW!

Yep thats me doing a spot of male grooming at the James Long show ;)

It funny too because I thought I recognised Kit at the show but I'm usually soooo bad at putting faces to names that I didn't like to introduce myself in case it wasn't her. I am also gutted that I didn't spot my all time favourite blogger Susie Bubble(right) who Kit(left) also snapped backstage, but I guess that proves I was hard at work!

Pictures courtesy of Kit Lee @ The Fashion Assistant and Her Camera/Style Slicker

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

How to Use Contour and Highlight to Sculpt the Face

As I said yesterday, if the New York runways are anything to go by, contouring is going to be big come the fall.

Contouring is a technique that can be used not just to bring out the cheek bones but to sculpt the whole face. The basis of contouring is that dark colours appear to recede where as lightening an area brings it forward so you can shade the face to give it more depth.

As simple as it seems a lot of people struggle with contouring, highlighting and blush so I thought I would share this excellent tutorial from Smashbox with you to help give those that haven't contoured before a better understanding of how to achieve the look.

Back when I was in makeup school I found it hard knowing where to place the colour, it always just looked wrong or very 80's rather than subtly enhancing the natural beauty of the face. The more faces I did though the better understanding I got of the structure of the face and you will soon find the technique comes naturally and is a lot easier to master with practice.

One of my favourite YouTube artists Pixiwoo shows how she uses contouring in her video on her daily makeup routine. At about 7mins in you will see her contouring and how flattering it can be so give it ago!

Let me know your thoughts on contouring and whether you like to sculpt the face or not. If you don't contour already will you incorporate this into your routine? Leave a comment.

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Monday, 23 February 2009

New York Fashion Week F/W09 Makeup Trends

Better late than is my New York Fashion Week roundup for Fall 2009!

The makeup trends emerging from the New York shows were rather bland compared to the beautiful metallic and jewel tones coming through this spring. I didn't think any of the makeup looks seen on the runway were particularly mind blowing but what they are is really wearable so it wont be hard to be on trend come the fall.

The Contoured Face...
The NYC shows were a sea of chiseled cheek bones as models were sculpted to perfection. No matter what was going on with the rest of the face there was contouring seen at just about every single show so its definitely something to work into your makeup routine this winter to bring your look up to date.

Get the look: Using powder or cream products to contour the face can be really flattering, particularly when teamed with a natural makeup so keep it subtle for a wearable everyday look. Try a product like the Make Up For Ever Compact Modeller to recreate the look by shading under the cheek bone with the darker colour and highlighting on top with the lightest shade. You can also use a a matt bronzer in a cool tone to contour.

Seen At: Look at the Matthew Williamson, Cynthia Rowley and Alexander Wang runway pics linked to see how it was done.

The Red Lip...
Where there was colour it was in the form a beautiful red lip. Red lips look like they are here to stay although there was more than one red of the season so be sure to find the shade that works for you. The choice of colours ranged from subtle rose stained blushing lips at DKNY, vibrant orange based reds as seen at Isaac Mizrahi, and vampy wine shades at Luca Luca.

Get The Look: Although red is bold it should be kept really clean. Use a lip brush to get a precise line and clean up using your concealer. Try Bourjois for more subtle sheer red lip colours, MAC for a classic matt red lips or my favourite Yaby for a silky wearable red colour with a slight sheen.

Seen At: Take a look at the Erin Fetherston, Karen Walker and Ruffian shows linked to get inspired.

The Smokey Eye...
There were lots of smoked out sexy, sultry eyes seen on the NYC runways which would be perfect for a night out. Colours ranged from warm brown and bronze shades seen at Diane von Furstenburg to the gritty, dark and smouldering eyes at Michael Kors.

Get The Look: Try Indianwood and Constructivist MAC paint pots to do a quick easy to wear Diane von Furstenburg eye. To stop eyes appearing small when doing a dark eye, line them with a cream coloured eye pencil to widen. You could also try a product such as the Jemma Kidd I-Perfector Prep & Brighten Duo which doubles as a primer to help your shadow stay put and a flesh coloured liner to brighten the eyes.

Seen At: Badgley Mischka, Elise Overland, Oscar de la Renta and Proenza Schouler all showed smokey eyes so follow the links to find out more.

So there you have it, three looks taken straight from the catwalk. Let me know what you think of the makeup for fall.

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Picture Source: Clementine Gallot

Sunday, 22 February 2009

More on the Ann Sofie Back A/W09 Show!

It was so manic backstage that I couldn't really take any decent pics and I didn't even get a look at the show on the monitor, so I thought I would put together some pictures and footage that others have been posting today.

Topshop have posted some back stage pics and a little review of the Ann Sofie Back show I was working on yesterday on their blog Inside-Out. Check the post out here...

To see all the pictures from the runway visit the official LFW website.

Watch the show below....

For the German speakers out there take a peek at Les Mads post.

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Working Backstage at Ann Sofie Back A/W09

Just over a week ago I got an email from Jed Root asking if I was available to work fashion week as Ayami Nishimura wanted me to assist on three of her shows. Of course I absolutely jumped at the chance and yesterday I got to work my first show doing makeup for Ann Sofie Back at London Fashion Week.

Even though I felt nervous about working on the show and assisting Ayami there was such an amazing energy backstage and Ayami and the other artists made me feel really at ease so my nerves were gone as soon as I set up my station.

The idea behind the makeup look was to create a beautiful zombie which might sound like a contradiction but the models really did look stunning, even if a little scary. It had been said at the fitting that it should look like the model was in vogue shoot, died and they carried on shooting! Yep, a bit morbid but I think the look Ayami created really worked with this idea.

To re create the look Ayami designed I had to put Xtreme Eyez White Out contact lenses in the models eyes which was definitely a great learning experience. We used MAC Full Coverage in White as a base which we blended with a damp sponge to give a flawless look. We used the purple from a Bruise Wheel to do a smokey eye and lined the eyes with metallic purple airbrush makeup. The lips were covered with the base and we applied a dark red on the inside of the lips.

I felt really privileged to do makeup for Ayami and was ecstatic when she said that she had seen my website and really liked my work. It was amazing working on the show and cant wait to do it again!

Are you working any shows this season? Share your experiences in the comments section.

PS. I'm really sorry for the poor pic quality I finally found my camera this morning so I can stop using camera phone snaps on the blog!!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Makeup Brushes on a Budget

I needed to stock up on a few more brushes this week but my budget was pretty non existent. I usually think that one area you shoudn't skimp on is your brushes but I actually found a few decent budget brushes at PAM in Shepherds Bush.

I managed to bag myself 9 new brushes for just over £50 and was pleased with the quality. In particular I am in love with the blush brush which was a snip at £9.40 and was definitely my star buy.

The one thing I did splurge on was another MAC 187 brush from the Pro Store in Soho because I just cant live without my duo fibre brushes for buffing that foundation!

My Brush Haul...
  • B002/C104 Angle Blush £8.30 Nice full but firm angled brush for contouring and blush.
  • B005/C141 Blush £9.40 I love this brush as its slightly tapered so great for placing colour where you need it and soft for blending.
  • B016/C213 Smudge £3.10 x2 This tiny brush is supposed to be for smudging liner I think but its far too scratchy for the delicate eye area however I got these for doing lips as a like small but wide brushes for lip work.
  • B019/C222 Small Contour £4.10 x2 Perfect size for blending in the crease, dense but quite soft.
  • B023/C203 Wide Eyeshadow £9.40 x2 The sable hair on these is super soft. Good size for colour washes.
  • Brow Grooming Tool £2.00 Comb, brush and wand in one.
When selecting my brushes I made sure the handles felt secure and well glued in as some that i picked up felt loose so I would recommend buying in person to make sure you don't get one that will fall apart even if they are cheap.

I have a sneaky suspicion that PAM's brush supplier for these particular brushes is ( for those in the USA) as the codes on the PAM brushes match those of the Crown Studio Line so I will have to place a crown order soon to confirm that!

What bargains have you got for kit lately? Leave a comment and let us know!
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Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Behind The Scenes with Bobbi Brown at New York Fashion Week Fall 2009

I was going to do a New York Fashion Week post giving a round up of the shows and trends at the end of the week but I couldn't help squeeze in a fashion week related post when I came across this Bobbi Brown video on YouTube.

I always find watching other artists at work really inspiring and I think you can learn a lot from watching the pros even if it is via YouTube.

Bobbi Brown released this video last night on her YouTube channel which I thought you all might find interesting as it gives a behind the scenes look at what goes on during the run up to keying a show.

I think this video gives a great insight into the role of a key makeup artist from the initial makeup test with designer Rachel Roy, through to the fashion show experience. It was great to see Bobbi Brown break out cult pro product, the Flash Palette by Make Up For Ever, which is proof that not even artists with their own line use only one brand in their kits. I was also interested to see that Bobbi had one of her artists fill out her face chart...if only I could find someone to do mine, I suck at face charts!

Let me know if you enjoy the video and tell me what you think by leaving a comment below.

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Friday, 13 February 2009

Fashion Wallpapers For Your Desktop

Blogger and YouTube guru Pixiwoo, aka makeup artist Samantha Chapman, bought to my attention a fabulous site for the fashion and beauty obsessed called Desktop Nexus. If you find fashion creeping into every crevice of your life now even your desktop can get a designer makeover. You may not be able to afford to sling a Prada bag over your shoulder but at least you can splash it all over your lap top - for free! has an excellent database of images to chose from with easy to use tools to crop and re-size the pictures to best fit your screen.

If you want to update your desktop with the the latest offering from Vogue or a Dolce and Gabbana campaign here's how.....


Let me know what you have on your desktop by leaving a comment!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

My Kit: Lips

As you have heard me mention several times here on the blog I am a big fan of condensing my makeup kit. This means I am very selective about the products I add to my kit, and am also very ruthless at getting rid of clutter.

My lip kit may look very small but it works well for me and I get everything I need from it as I can mix the right colour if its not in my makeup bag.

Lip Sticks
Yaby Lip Colours from nude to dark cherry
- The Yaby lip colours are really pigmented and apply really smoothly and silky. A little goes along away and lasts really well. I love that the Yaby colours come in small pans so I can carry colours that I rarely need without taking up space but I'm prepared if I do need them. The colours I use most are LC013 No colour lip LC237 natural pink tone which is great for bridal and LC020 which is a really versatile vibrant red with a slight sheen.
MAC Lustre - Hug Me. Perfect shade for a natural look that works on a wide range of people.
MAC Matt - Glam. Matt colour for a classic red lip.
MAC Amplified - Girl About Town. Really pigmented hot pink.
MAC Satin - Cyber. Strong purple for high fashion looks.

Lip Gloss
Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss - Crystal. Clear gloss with thick glassy consistency and long lasting shine.
Benefit Her Glossiness - Didn't hear it from me. Nude gloss.
Benefit Her Glossiness - My people, your people. Frosted gloss for adding shimmer to lip colour.
MAC Lip Glass - Russian Red and Pink Poodle - Opaque glosses, high shine and colour intensity. Great for glamour shoots.

Lip Pencils
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on pencil - Ozone. Clear waxy pencil to stop feathering and lock colour in. Great product as you don't need to carry lots of lip pencils!
MAC - Cherry(red) and Currant(purple)
Ben Nye - I did have, until a few weeks ago, the perfect natural/nude pencil from Ben Nye which was a real staple in my kit but it went missing on a shoot so I am not certain of the colour. (I will let you know when I replace it!)

Vaseline - for prepping lips before adding colour or for menswear shoots.
Kryolan Invisible Matt - when I need a really matt lip colour I can mix in some of this.

Although it isn't in the pic I also use my Kryolan Supracolour palette to mix custom colours or adjust the lip colours in my palette although I hope to add some MUFE Flash colours to my kit soon which I think will replace these.

Let me know what your lip essentials are. Id love to hear what you couldn't live without in your kit, leave a comment.

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Friday, 6 February 2009

When Inspiration Strikes: Gucci S/S 09

Inspiration is everywhere. That’s a fact. But who or what caught my eye this week….

I am sooooo in love with the jewel tones seen in the new Gucci ad campaign, shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.

Every time I open a magazine I swoon over the bold use of colour on the eyes and am drawn to the rich, vibrant purples that make the Gucci campaign stand out to me. I am itching to introduce some colour into my work now and can definitely hear my Yaby Pearl Paints calling to me!

Eyes smoldered in jewel tones on the Gucci S/S09 runway too as Pat McGrath injected the same intensity of colour into the show that we are now seeing in the ad campaign. Using a vivid turquoise shade on the eyes she took inspiration from the beautiful aqua accent colour used in the collection. View the full Gucci S/S 09 show here.

Victoria Kirby interviews Pat McGrath and Luigi Murenu who talk through the hair and makeup choices for the show below. Its a great peek behind the scenes with Allure so enjoy!

What has inspired you this week...are the new trends for spring exciting you yet? Let me know what you think of the Gucci campaign and leave a comment.

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How To Do A Smokey Eye

The smokey eye has always been a challenge for me for some reason. Even though I have done this technique countless times it is always something I strive to improve further.

How to do a smokey eye is a question I hear time and time again so I thought that I would share some of my favourite smokey eye tutorials here.

I hope you learnt something new about creating a smokey eye and that you enjoyed watching the tutorials.

I am sure you all have a favourite YouTube demo so post a link to your favourite video in the comments section now!

Get What The Pro's Do updates by subscribing for free. Click here to find out more.

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Thursday, 5 February 2009

Enter The Elle/Loreal Paris New Talent 2009 Competition

Elle and Loreal Paris have again joined forces in the search to find the makeup artist of the future to follow in the footsteps of past winners Rose Angus and Clair Waterman.

They have now launched the Elle/Loreal Paris New Talent Competition mini-site where you can find out all the information you need to enter the competition and print you face chart. Visit the mini-site at

You will need to design your makeup look showing all the Loreal products you would use on the face chart along with an A3 mood board and 200 word (max) description supporting your design to the address below before the closing date 2nd April 2009

Bernice Frampton, Elle/L'Oreal Paris New Talent, 64 North Row, London, W1K 7LL

Good Luck!

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Elle/Loreal New Talent Competition 2009

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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Pat McGrath Interview with ELLE Magazine

I am like a sponge when it comes to makeup and soak up anything I can find on the subject. I particularly love reading about makeup artists and secretly hope some of their wisdom will rub off on me through their words and in turn help me in my career.

With this in mind you can image how happy I was to see a Q&A piece with British makeup artist Pat McGrath, in the new March issue of ELLE UK. Here is a small extract from the "Email to the Editor" feature Pat McGrath took part in with editor in chief Lorraine Candy...

LC: What are you doing right now?

PM: I'm on location with Steven Meisel in New York, working 10 hour days. My long standing collaboration and friendship with Steven has had a tremendous impact on my career. At the end of the week, I'm heading off to China for two days to work with Max Factor.

LC: Who has the easiest face to make up?

PM: It's really the personality of the girl that inspires me. There are a few faces I love doing like Amber Valletta, Karen Elson, Naomi Campbell and Natalia Vodianova. I find it easiest to do makeup on girls with big eyes because every other feature can be corrected, but it is hard to make small eyes big.

If you cant wait to read the full Q&A in ELLE hop on over to to see what Pat has to say on trends for S/S 09 when she talks to Amy Stone.

Another reason to get your hands on a copy of ELLE this month is to see one of my all time favourite fashion bloggers, Susie Bubble's thoughts on fashion and dressing up in print!

Check out the piece on Susanne Lau AKA Susie Bubble in the ELLE Shops Accessories supplement and follow her fashion musing on the blog Style Bubble.

What do you think of Pat McGrath? Share your thoughts and leave a comment.

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S/09 Paris Couture Shows Roundup
The Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual

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Monday, 2 February 2009

Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Makeup Kit Clean and Sanitary

So this weekend I had yet another model marvel at my cleaning and sanitation practices which is something that always bothers me as cleaning brushes and keeping a sanitary kit should be the norm.

The steps you can take to keep your products and tools clean and sanitized are so quick and simple that there are no excuses for not doing it.

Here are the basic steps you should be following at the very least to insure a clean and safe working environment for you and your models.

1. Wash your hands!

I carry an anti-bacterial hand gel which eliminates the need for soap and water so I can sanitize my hands on the spot. I find it also puts the client or model at ease when they see me being hygienic from the start.

2. Scoop, scrape or squirt products onto a clean palette

By working from a clean palette you cant double dip which can contaminate the product. You can use a spatula to transfer cream or loose powder products to your palette.

3. Never use the wand that comes with the mascara to prevent transferring bacteria which can cause eye infections.

Use a fresh disposable wand every time you need to get more product from the mascara tube.

To minimise the use of disposable wands I like to put some mascara on my palette and use a tiny fan brush which can be cleaned and reused to coat the bottom lashes.

If you like using the wand that comes with a particular brand of mascara you can remove them from the tube, clean thoroughly and keep in your kit like a reusable wand but make sure you have several as you must never put the wand back in the tube after use if you need more product.

This also applies to lip gloss. Always transfer the gloss to a palette or use a disposable applicator replacing it every time you need more gloss from the tube.

4. Sanitise all brushes and tool before use.

I use a 99% Isopropyl Alcohol solution to sanitize and quickly remove makeup from my brushes. As the alcohol content is high it evaporates very quickly leaving your brushes dry and ready to use in no time at all so if you have to work on multiple models with the same brushes there is no excuse not to clean between each model. As it evaporates it is also important to keep the lid on at all times or the product will become useless.

To clean immerse the tip of the brush into the IPA and work it in back and forth on a paper towel repeating until there is not trace of product left.

You can spray tools, pallets and work surfaces with alcohol and wipe down with a paper towel to sanitise. Anti-bacterial wipes are also handy for wiping down surfaces and the inside of your kit.

5. Always sharpen lip, brow and eye pencils using a clean sanitary sharpener.

Clean out the sharpener and use a q-tip soaked in alcohol to sanitise inside and out. Once pencils have been sharpened you can wipe the tip with alcohol as an extra precaution against bacteria and other germs.

If you have any more tips to make sanitising your kit easy let us know and post a comment.
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