Where were you born?
Smithtown, Long Island.
Where do you live now?
Smack dab in the center of Hollywood, California.
What’s your sign?
I am a double Scorpio with a Libra moon, so basically I’ve got mystery and beauty running through my veins LOL!
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a moment around 10 when I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian because I love animals so much, but then lost interest the minute I heard the words makeup artist at 14.
How did that transpose into makeup artistry?
They don’t seem to overlap but I did make myself into my cat Lou Lou in my very first makeup class. It was a stage makeup class at my community college and they had us bring in a photo of something that inspired us. I brought a photo of my black and white cat. I never connected those dots until just now!
If you hadn’t gotten into makeup what do you think you’d be doing right now?
For sure a singer in a goth/punk band! I’ve always had a flair for the dark and dramatic and love to sing, so in an alternate universe somewhere I would have been a bad ass front woman with loads of ferocious lewks! All I know is that I never wanted a conventional life, I like weirdos because I am one. I’ve always wanted a life surrounded by art and artists so anything that has me creating with other creatives and expressing ourselves fully is where I belong.
How did you know that the makeup industry was where you wanted to be?
I didn’t! I was brought to a wedding in LA when I was 14 and the bride happened to be a makeup artist.The moment I realized that there was such a thing in the world I knew it was my path. I can’t exactly explain it but I was fully called to it. I had no idea that their was an industry or what it took to be a working makeup artist but somehow just knew that beauty was my path and that I had to find a way to make it my life.
What was your first memorable work as an artist?
I would say that the first job that felt like a big deal for me was the cover of Flaunt Magazine with Brittany Murphy in 2000. It was photographed by David LaChapelle who I was dying to work with at the time and it my first real celebrity cover, which felt like a
huge accomplishment because at the time I was mostly shooting only fashion with models. I would spend hours at the magazine stand being so inspired by other makeup artists work and that cover was the first time I saw my own work next to theirs on the shelf. I was flying high, I remember thinking, I can officially call myself a makeup artist! I wanted to shout it from every rooftop.
What are the things about work in makeup that you love?
Freedom is at the core of everything I do in life and I would say that the biggest gift my career in makeup has given me at this point is my freedom. I worked really hard for it though and it took decades to earn. I said yes for years before i could say no, but to finally arrive in a place where I can choose what jobs I take and which I don’t which is something I value above all else and never take for granted. The other thing I love the most about it is how collaborative it is. I adore the co-elevation that happens when I’m working on a project with an amazing team and we all make each other better just by pushing each other. for me it’s the most fun part of what I do and I’ll never get tired of that feeling. It’s better than any drug or pair of designer shoes.
What are the challenges you face as a makeup artist?
As makeup artists we ingest enormous amounts of rejection, sometimes even multiple times daily. If you take it all personally you will quickly begin fall apart. I think developing healthy coping skills both mentally and physically early, on and building a strong village outside of the industry is of the utmost importance if your want to maintain longevity in our crazy business.
Balance can be really hard to achieve because our schedules often require putting your life aside for the lives of others.The reality is that a successful career is an amazing accomplishment but at the end of the day your clients are not your friends and won’t be there for you when the real shit goes down. Making sure your personal life is in order can support your business in radical and amazing ways. Make time for family and friends and trust that the clients who respect and value your talent will always ask for you again because you valued yourself first.
What should someone who is looking to develop a career in makeup know before getting into the business?
You won’t be for everyone and thats a good thing. I believe that having a clear sense of who you are what you bring to the table as an artist is the key to a rewarding career. Your point of view is your most valuable asset, it defines you and sets you apart from everyone else doing this craft. Being a technician is not the same as being an artist. Everyone can do a cat eye but knowing when and why makes you a expert who is valued for their eye not just their skill.
What makes you a good makeup artist?
I think it’s that I listen. Not just with my ears but with my heart. Whether it’s my client, a photographer, a hairdresser or stylist, I understand well how to digest their opinions and interpret their inspirations and bring them to life in new and surprising ways. I think that emotional intelligence is so important in what we do as makeup artists and it’s underrated compared to other aspects. It’s never just about me, so knowing my role within a team and leaving my ego at the door is something that has served me well over the years.
What are some of the most important qualities that a makeup artist can have?
Being nimble and unattached is so important. You don’t get too attached to an idea or concept or client, it changes your work in subtle but degrading ways.Things change constantly in our industry and you can’t be everything to everyone. Stay true to your vision, try not compromise to much to fit into someone elses idea. Your point of view is your ultimate currency and your livelihood will depend on it over time. Protect it like a dragon protect’s its gold.
How do you continue to grow as an artist?
I keep the mindset of a student. I am always learning and could fill books with what I still don’t know about our craft which excites me to no end. I am constantly inspired by other artists and their unique approaches to beauty as well and stay open to all forms of inspiration including nature, music travel, literature. I see my life as art in itself and makeup is just the medium I use to express it.
What has changed most about the industry in the time that you’ve been working in makeup?
I feel like literally everything has changed since I started in this business. First of all their are hundreds of thousands of us now where there used to be just a few hundred. There were maybe a handful of artists that got to work in the upper echelon and whose work defined beauty for the rest of us. The business has been blown wide open in a good way, and the opportunities that exist today are so much broader than ever before.
How has social media affected your career or work?
It’s ultimately been great a business tool for me, I probably don’t utilize it as well as I should honestly. I have days when I am super excited by all the possibilities it offers, and others when it feels like an albatross. It’s certainly added another layer of responsibility to my job, making me a photographer, editor and occasional journalist which can be exhausting. On my good days it’s the ultimate key to artistic freedom on my bad days it’s painfully overwhelming. I was lucky to have embraced it early on and
built a strong following out of the gate. The biggest joy it’s given me is that it’s allowed me to share other parts of myself outside of being a makeup artist. I’m a mom, a crazy foodie and a million other things. I love sharing the non makeup artist parts of myself with my followers and hopefully show them an example that it’s possible to be super successful in our business and not be fully defined by your work alone.
Do you have a signature style?
I think my style is ever evolving but for me color has always been my first language. Color is what moves me the most joy. That and helping women feel like their most bad ass versions of themselves. I think my makeup always has a playful aspect to it, at least thats what I’ve been told. Also, for me a makeup has to make me feel something. Whether its mine or someone else’s. It can be an uncomfortable feeling, I don’t care, I just want to be moved by it. I don’t like make up that’s too perfected because it makes me feel alienated from the person. I like so see and feel the humanity in the makeup. My favorite makeup look is one that is a little fucked up.
What would your clients say is the best thing about working with you?
I think they would say that we laugh a lot. Seriously we have the most amazing conversations. I hope that they would say that my makeup makes them feel the most like themselves, for me that would be the ultimate compliment.
Whose work do you admire?
So many! Serge Lutens is my ultimate, Peter Phillips is a friggin genius, Isamaya French is always fun to watch. Anyone whose work isn’t defined by beauty standards. I find standards so limiting as an artist and always love to see them challenged.
You are one of the founders of The Makeup Museum. How did that project come about?
I was introduced to the museum’s co-founder, Dorren Bloch, in the Bay Area a little over three years ago and when she told me the idea It felt like a dream. I’ve always wanted to see a makeup up museum happen but couldn’t imagine how. She is a great facilitator and was able to move mountains to bring it to life. I came on board as a co founder in 2018 and when the pandemic hit it was so sad as it was our grand opening was set for May 2020. We had to pivot completely and the whole thing was very analog and simplistic rather than visually immersive.
We are the first institution of its kind dedicated to makeup and its history. Our first exhibition Pink Jungle 1950s makeup in America ran for six months in the Meatpacking district in NY. We hope to create on a whole new exhibition at a new location in the near
I am proud of what we were able to achieve considering the insane circumstances we were handed but I do hope to have the chance to see our full vision come to life one day.
What’s next for Rachel Goodwin?
So much! I am working on a very special project right now that has been in my heart for a very long time and I cannot wait share with he world. More soon I promise! I am also very much looking forward to traveling again for work again and having fabulous adventures with my beloved Glamily.
Words Michael DeVellis
Photos courtesy of Rachel Goodwin
Rachel Portrait Kate Jones</strong?