PROFILE: RAISA FLOWERS

Where were you born?
Mt. Vernon, NY

Where do you live now?
I still live in Mt. Vernon actually! I have lived in Brooklyn at some points of my life, but honestly with the quality of home I want to have, my space has to be to a high standard. Where I live is so chill. It’s just the vibe that I am on. But hopefully I will be in Harlem or back in Brooklyn again soon.

What’s your sign?
I am an Aquarius. The best sign ever 🙂

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an artist, but I was told it wasn’t realistic. They were wrong. Then I wanted to be a doctor, a chef and a fashion designer! I had big dreams when I was younger, and still do.

How did that transpose into makeup artistry?
Makeup gave me the ability to express myself in many ways. Especially after being told becoming an artist wasn’t a real thing, it pushed me to really work and perfect my art. Even with my style and everything I do creatively, I put a lot of thought in what I do and I don’t allow it to overwhelm me.

What was your first memorable work as an artist?
My first memorable work as an artist has to be when I traveled to Trinidad to work on a film. I was so young and so new to doing any traveling out of the country for work. It was a new experience because I really look forward to the future and what may come from this career. That was when I truly started taking makeup seriously and I realized that it could take me places.

How did you know that he makeup artist industry was where you wanted to be?
I did not want to be in the makeup industry at first because I wanted to be a fashion designer. Then I fell in love with doing makeup and being able to make people look and feel good. That’s when I knew that I needed to be a makeup artist. After realizing what effect that had on people, it really made me fall in love with doing makeup. But again, I didn’t think it was realistic for me. It look a long time for things to really click for me honestly. I was in denial for a really long time.

What are the things about working in makeup that you love? I love being able to make people feel beautiful. Also I love seeing someone become more confident because they’re in love with their makeup. That makes me happy. I also love to see the transformation or having the ability to play with different products, and make it look really cool.

What are the things about your work that makes it the most interesting to you?
I feel like my work can be misunderstood in a sense because I work with such diverse types of people. I try my best to cater to black people because I feel like we are the ones who are the most under-represented in the industry. I make it a point to work on black women because I feel like I can help change the industry in some shape or form with my work. I love using black people as my canvas for my creative work because I feel we aren’t seen so much in the creative makeup world.

What are the challenges you face as a freelance artist?
I think one of the biggest challenges that I face as freelance artist is that it takes a long time to really understand that freelancing is not a easy job. You have to keep up with everything in the industry. You have to make sure you keep your clients happy. You have to always update your work and be on top of your payments and the business side. Sometimes we are waiting months to get paid and it can make you feel unappreciated. Also staying true to yourself and not working just for the money is also a whole thing too.

Do you have a signature style?
Yes, I do! My signature style is more natural with pops of color. The skin is done clean and then I experiment with very bright coloring and a lot of lines and shapes. I like using color because it can pop the skin in ways that people don’t even realize.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into your area of the business?
People should know that just because someone else is doing something you see on social media or you see in the magazine doesn’t mean that’s for you. Figure out your own style and aesthetic and cater to that look. Don’t let anybody change you or tell you otherwise. Just be true to you.

Any type of makeup work you would like to try next?
Lately I’ve been obsessed with full body painting. I’ve been so attracted to it and I really want to learn how to fully do a proper full body paint job. I think that’s so satisfying. Also really cool prosthetics is something I’d like to try in the future. I’ve been obsessed with seeing people have elf ears or have a bald head or even crazy gore type of makeup.

How do you continue to grow your career as an artist?
I learn from my mistakes. Honestly, I look back at my work and I see what flaws I’ve had in it and I correct it for the next time. That’s how I continue to grow — I’m always learning, I’m always open to new products and new techniques, I trying new things too, that’s how you grow in your career you become comfortable with doing certain things that better your craft

Do you have a project that you’ve done that you are especially proud of?
Yes, my Nike beauty demos that I did last year was a big, big moment for me in my career! I feel like I was able to show my style and teach people how to do what I do but not super technical or overdoing it. I was really proud of the moment. It hold special place in my heart.

What are some of the most important qualities that a makeup artist can have?
I think the most important qualities that I makeup artist can have is their ability to listen and not feel like they know everything. When you’re working with like clients who are celebrities or clients who are used to doing things their way, you have to really adjust yourself to them and what they like and I feel like that’s important! Also being willing and available for change. You have to be able to open your mind fully to except change. If you need to change or edit something in your work it needs to be done! Also I feel like for me and my style it’s about being willing to try new things and think out of the box. That right there is a big deal.

What project did you have the most fun working on?
I did this shoot for Frize x Gucci with my friends Tosh and Wu, who are two amazing talented people who are actually a couple. They did a film called Into The Space Of Love. It was the most fun, chill, amazing experience ever! I got to work with Kevin Aviance, and a few other greats. It was one of the most beautiful things. I remember not feeling tired or stressed during that project at all.

What project was the most challenging?
Ask me that in the next 10 years and I will spill all the tea but for now……

You have worked on the other side of the makeup chair as a model as well. How did that come about?
It happened pretty random actually. I was on a shoot for one of my friends and the photographer wanted to take pictures of me. I agreed of course. After that, more people started being into my look and asking me to model for them. I became the plus sized rocker kind of chick people wanted to know about. Then campaign opportunities started to come in for me and I guess you can say I was doing a lot from that point on.

What do you love about modeling?
I love that I am allowed to be myself but it’s sad that girls can’t express themselves the way they would like to because they feel like they wouldn’t get booked. There is a fear that the casting directors won’t cast them because they don’t fit their ideal, or they are getting body shamed. But I really like that I inspire people and I inspire women who share the same body type as me who are fat, plus size, chubby — these women need to see this, they need to be inspired, they need to feel like they can be a part of this too — and they should be. Anything is possible.

And you have also been an inspirational speaker as well?
I don’t think I’m really an inspirational speaker, I just think people like my ideas or the way I speak up for the things I feel that are wrong in the industry. I just like to talk so that brings a lot of attention to me.

Do you prefer one type of work to another?
If you’re talking about style of makeup no, not really. I do love to see a beat, beat face — but not too cakey! Then I do love to see a crazy editorial, funky beautiful makeup with lots of color – the whole nine. I’ve always said this I want to be known as a beauty and an editorial makeup artist because I feel like I want to be able to honor both styles.

What would your clients say is the best thing about working with you?
The other day I was shooting with one of my clients and she was just like, you know what I love, your ability to listen and the fact that you’re willing to change something without being a know-itall. So there you have it. Also, I think my clients trust me when I want to try one thing over another, because in the end if they don’t like it I’m able to change it without a fuss. I try my best to make them feel comfortable and they trust me.

Is there someone you have always wanted to work on who you haven’t had the chance to do yet? I really want to work with FKA Twigs I feel like I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes but she is a friend of mine and I really love her art. She puts in soooo much work. I feel like if in the future if I got to create a look for her it would be out of this world. Those brows are just wow.

Whose work do you admire?
Pat McGrath, Danessa Myricks, Ryan Burke, Kabuki and a bunch more — but those are the first ones that come to mind.

What inspires you?
I think color inspires me the most! Also nature, my Mom, The ‘90s
the ‘80s the ‘70s all play a big important part in my makeup because during those times color wasn’t so scary.

Has social media affected your career or work?
If not for social media I don’t think as many people would see my work. I know for a fact social media has allowed me to share my work quicker for sure. I’ve been trying lately to post things that I really love rather than things I think people will like. That has really been working for me. It lets me share my true voice for my artistry.

What has changed most about the industry in the time that you’ve been working in makeup?
I mean, there have been more black women in creative work or modeling who are now coming the forefront for a few designers. But the diversity needs more work. I also feel like some people care more about your Instagram following, than they care about your actual work and for me that’s disappointing. Fortunately, I feel that my work is strong enough to break those boundaries.

Words Michael DeVellis
Photos courtesy of Raisa Flowers @raisaflowers