You never know who you’re gonna bump into from one day to the next. I mean, the person sitting right next to you on the bus or the train or even in your workplace as you read this post might be the next person that inspires you. Well, that’s exactly what happened to me. Working within creative arts education, I’d signed up to one of our Adobe events (because a girl’s gotta brush up on her Adobe skills). Working within a highly creative environment there’s an abundance of intriguing people like myself, who have creative interests within the arts. So it was no surprise that the person who’d sit next to me was a top Makeup Artist. After talking to Bea, I knew that I had to share her inspirational journey and passion as a Makeup Artist with my readers. When Bea Sweet (such a wonderful name, right?!) popped over to the happy flat blog for a catch-up & a chat, we talked all things beauty, industry, and future goals.
Q: So tell me a little bit about yourself?
My name is Bea Sweet, I work as a Makeup Artist based primarily in London and I’m signed to LMC Worldwide.
Q: Where & what did you study at university?
I studied at The London College of Fashion, University of The Arts London based at the John Princes Street campus in Oxford Circus where I took a BA(Hons) in Makeup and Prosthetics for Performance because I thought I wanted to work as a Makeup Artist on Harry Potter.
Q: What drew you to University of the Arts London (UAL)?
I wanted to move away from Essex, and the only way my parents would let me do that was to take a Degree, and the only place that offered the qualification I wanted was LCF. So I applied for 3 years straight before they let me in, and then I graduated with a 1:1 three years after that.
Q: That’s amazing, and congratulations for getting a first. Following from that incredible achievement, how did you break into the industry?
I was introduced to a guy named John William who was the Editor at the time, of a magazine called Pigeon & Peacocks, which was the fashion magazine for The London College of Fashion (LCF). I started working with him and shooting for that magazine while I was still a student at LCF myself and building up a portfolio and it snowballed from there. I started out by working with people like Harley Weir who is now with Art Partner, and Matthew Josephs (Fashion Director at Wonderland Magazine), and saying yes to everything I could.
Q: And how did you get your very first initial break?
I think the thing that did me the most, good was working with Nick Knight for a series called “Studs” for V Magazine. I cast 10 of my black lesbian/trans friends and took their photos to my friend Simon Foxton – a stylist I had met on an i-D shoot, and told him I wanted to shoot my friends with him with Nick Knight. A few days later he got back to me and was like, “Okay!” and that was a pretty cool moment.
Q: You’ve worked with some established artists such as FKA Twigs and have had your work published in Nylon and I-D magazine. How do find working with such big names in terms of getting your own ideas across whilst matching the brief (if they set a brief)?
Twigs is super easy to work with, I will always ask her what she’s wearing that evening and I will try to gauge her mood before throwing some suggestions for her makeup, but I will always have had a think beforehand. Sometimes we might be feeling a liner, sometimes we might be feeling browns, sometimes we might be feeling metallics. Sometimes it might be an eyebrow day, sometimes it might be a lip day. It helps to know someone’s face and understand their vibe before working with them, but one of the reasons I love working with her so much is because we have mutual trust. I always, always want her looking her best version of herself and she trusts me to do this, this is my general rule of thumb for any celebrity I work with from Paris Hilton to Kelly Rowland to Charli XCX. Aside from celebrity, I really enjoy working with commercial clients if they come to me with a whole iPad full of ideas or equally as much even if they come to me with none. Most commercial clients like Harvey Nichols, ASOS, Net-a-Porter etc will know what they want and that’s really great, equally, some will tell me to do whatever I like such as Miista or Tatty Devine which is also super fun, and some will come to me with an outline of ideas like Maybelline and let me work on them from there.
Q: Describe a typical day on-set or at a shoot?
First one in, last one out. Always the first on set, I will set up with my assistant and hope the model arrives on time and will get her in the chair for a cleanse, tone and moisturise and lip balm. I like to get this all going so I can learn her face and her skin, and it can all be soaking in so [that] when the time comes to make..her [up, her] skin will be ready. The model is usually in hair/makeup/nails for 2-3 hours and then we will shoot. We very rarely wrap on time, the days are often long and tiring. After we wrap I clean off my model’s face with help from my assistant, pack down my kit and then face the drive home.
Q: Your makeup is very vibrant, fun & full of character, how did you formulate your own personal style?
I learnt beautiful skin from Val Garland. While assisting her she taught me that before every makeup has to come absolutely pristine perfect skin. Not cakey skin, not heavy skin, no full coverage.. simple, beautiful skin that looks and breathes like skin. It took me a long time to nail it but I finally did. I learned the art of storytelling from a Makeup Artist called Georgina Graham and I credit her with being the biggest support and rock for me. I remember assisting her for a show at London Fashion Week where she described the makeup as needing to look “as if the models had woke up the next morning next to the fireplace and then rubbed the charcoal around their eyes”, she taught me the art of giving a visual description of the makeup you are creating to evoke mood and it’s a formula I’ve followed ever since.
Q: What’s next for you in 2016?
Lots of hard work I should imagine! Events, travelling, Cannes, Press, Promo, and hopefully a two week holiday to somewhere really hot with a beach dotted in there somewhere.
Thank you so much, Bea for stopping my the happy flat blog. Let me know what inspires you and who has inspired you in your creative journey.