Where were you born?
In the land of enchantment, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Where do you live now?
Los Angeles, Hollywood to be exact.
What’s your sign?
I am a true Taurus!
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Well, when I was younger I had a very strong interest in marine biology, I loved knowing there was a whole world under water that was different than ours. I was drawn to different colors of sea life.
How did that transpose into a working in makeup?
Having an interest in marine biology sparked creating paintings and drawings of underwater creatures and being able to imagine marine life and different colors and shapes. Charcoal and pastel was my first art medium which eventually led me to
work on a 3D canvas, the face.
What was your first memorable work as an artist?
That would definitely be the first time I saw my work on a billboard on I40 freeway in Albuquerque. It was for a southwestern jewelry company called Gertrude Zachary. I remember the model had these piercing eyes and I did a topaz bronze eye that made them really pop. Being able to take an idea that’s in your head and seeing it in front of you and for the world to see is a feeling that’s indescribable! It was the first time I really realized this was the career I wanted to pursue.
How did you know that the makeup industry was where you wanted to be?
In my early teens, I was so fascinated by the music and fashion world, as it was my escape. I always dreamt of being a part of that world and being able to study beauty editorials, campaigns and music videos was where my passion began.
What are the things about working in makeup that you love?
I love being able to contribute to creating art and the way makeup makes people feel and transform. I truly love being able to express my artistic vision on the clients I work with.
What are the things about your work that makes it the most interesting to you?
Often times I do surprise myself, sometimes things start off with one idea and grow and develop into something that I wasn’t expecting.
What are the challenges you face as a freelance artist?
There are often points of inconsistency, as far as having a steady flow of work, but that’s time to get inspired and get ready for what’s next.
What should someone who is looking to develop a career in makeup know before getting into the business?
It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of no’s to get to a yes. Being professional and kind will always get you far but also be ready to challenge yourself and always be open to learning.
How do you continue to grow your career as an artist?
Challenging myself to try new things and always setting new goals for myself. Once I got to a certain point living in Albuquerque, I really had my eyes set on moving to LA. I tried everything I could to have a set job in LA to be able to make the transposition. After a few months of deciding what I was going to do, I set a date and told myself I was going to just try it and make the big move. I left Albuquerque with maybe $200 in my
bank account, I sold everything I possibly could and packed up two suitcases and a makeup bag, and bought myself a one way ticket. Once arriving in LA it was really time to hustle. I emailed every photographer, model and hairstylist to offer my services. I
slowly began testing as much as possible and eventually started working with an online publication, Kode Magazine.
Once there, I became a go-to artist for the cover shoots and was able to start working with celebrities. I had the chance to work with Victoria Justice, Karrueche, Peyton List and Tinashe. I was then asked to work with some of these clients outside of the magazine for red carpets, music videos, etc. Through consistency and passion, I developed a great connection with Tinashe, which led me to my first major music video, cover of magazines, ad campaigns and so forth. Through word of mouth I was eventually connected with Lizzo about three years ago. I met her on set of the Water Me music video. I instantly connected with her and we had so much fun that day. Her music captivated me and that was where our relationship began. I really believe you can accomplish anything if you continue to challenge yourself constantly.
You’ve really become quite well known for the work you do with Lizzo, How did the depth of that relationship come about?
I remember getting to set and setting up my station for that music video and she walked in and said hi. I instantly felt this connection with her as if I’ve known her for so long. We talked on and on during the application. The stylist at the time wanted a very natural makeup. We had a blast that day and I remember her getting my number. She then texted me maybe a day or two later for an appearance she was doing. We began working together quite often and each time I started experimenting with different styles. We started off with more of a neutral palette, as time went on we played more with color and texture. There was a point after working with her, maybe six months in, that I felt she trusted me completely. For an artist this means the most to have that creative freedom. We started doing glam without even having a mirror in front of us. She loved the thought of a new look that was almost a surprise. She started feeling like the character the makeup played. Whether that be sexy, playful or classic I noticed her mood change once she saw herself in the look. She now has given me complete freedom to play and try things we’ve never done. From the countless magazine covers, music videos and red carpets it’s always something new. I am constantly inspired by her music and her view on life. Being around her and being able to grow together has been such a blessing and I can only hope to continue the journey!
Do you have a project that you’ve done that you are especially proud of?
Definitely the cover of Rolling Stone with Lizzo. From having covers hanging on my wall and dreaming of being a part of that world some day and actually living that dream and working with David LaChapelle felt surreal. Walking on set that day was such a dream. David and the team really created magic. It is definitely something I will never forget.
Would you say you have a signature style?
I think my signature style is having the ability to make my clients feel like themselves and help them bring out a version of themselves that they’ve always wanted.
What project did you have the most fun working on?
I love working on music videos! Being able to hear a song and imagine what that song looks like is one of my favorite things to do. To play dress up and create different looks to help that artist come to life is the ultimate dream for me.
What are some of the most important qualities that a makeup artist should have?
Punctuality, creativity and open to being collaborative.
What makes you a good makeup artist?
I think that a good makeup artist is being able to a look to whatever client I’m working on and bringing out the best in that person and never being afraid to take chances.
What is the most challenging thing about your work?
Often times, time is limited and sometimes as an artist you have to be able to think quickly to create the look you want in that time frame.
What type of work do you find most satisfying?
I love working on something more conceptual and really allowing myself to have complete creative freedom.
What would your clients say is the best thing about working with you?
I think overall we have fun and my clients feel like they’re in trusted hands.
Is there someone you have always wanted to work with that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
It would be a dream to work with the one and only Naomi Campbell. She was always someone who represented strength and beauty. She is someone who creates art with her face and body. Would love to do something artistic and bold.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired so much by nature, flowers, plants, insects, birds. I constantly love to explore and also clear my mind at the same time. I love going to museums and looking at art and architecture.
Whose work do you admire?
I will always be inspired by the greats of the past such as, Kevyn Aucoin, Way Bandy and Max Factor. Kevyn’s ability to create a look that is timeless and beautiful and truly transform was pure magic. I remember the first time I opened his book, Making Faces. I was maybe 12 or 13 and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. How is this makeup? How could you change someone’s look entirely just with makeup? It really intrigued me. To this day, I am still a student of the Making Faces book. Every time I look at it I see something new. Way Bandy created so many of the looks that we knew as glamour in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He truly was a pioneer. From his way of contouring and highlighting to his color choices. He created and made his own mark in the beauty industry. Max Factor, to me, is Hollywood glamour. When I think of those references, Max’s work will always come to mind. I’ve had a chance to visit the museum and Hollywood and it’s so fascinating to see his process. The idea of symmetry and perfecting the face was next level. Max created a world of a vision of his ideal woman. A revolutionary artist that we can all credit so many of the looks and techniques we have today.
What has changed most about the industry in the time that you’ve been working in makeup?
I started at a time where things were based off of having a portfolio and test shoots. Nowadays having a strong social media presence is important and having the ability to share your work on this platform has just changed everything.
How has social media effected your career?
Social media has been a great tool for me, not only to put out the work that I do but also make great connections with other artists and clients in the industry.
What’s next for Alexx Mayo?
I would love to continue working in the music industry, get more involved in creating online video content, and maybe have some classes of my own! The sky is the limit!
Words Michael DeVellis
Photos Alexx Mayo