PROFILE: CHARLIE GREEN

Where were you born?
Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire in England

Where do you live now?
Phoenix, Arizona — cowboy country! But I spend a lot of time
on planes bouncing to LA and New York.

What is your sign?
Taurus

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I loved color and was always painting as a kid, but I had a very strict education so having a career as an artist was totally discouraged. I wanted to be an architect when I was at school.  I grew up in England and was fascinated by the shapes of buildings; from Medieval dwellings to modern city towers. I spent school holidays in France and Italy and again got drawn into the variety of other European shapes and structures that existed as homes, retail environments. I wasn’t good enough at math to follow that architecture career.
How did a love for architecture turn into a career as a makeup artist?
My love of architecture translates perfectly into my love of makeup artistry. The way I see it is that a face is not only a blank canvas to be painted, it is also a stunning array of shapes; a combination of planes and structure, contrast and shadow. The bone structure of my clients’ faces, “their personal architecture,” is always unique and individual, always exciting for me to get my hands on. I hone and sculpt and enhance everyone’s individual beauty as to me, faces are a bunch of gorgeous building blocks just waiting to be coordinated and enhanced by my makeup artistry.

What was your first memorable work as an artist?
I consider my first shoots with the Conde Nast Publishing group as those that put my name on the map. During the late ‘90s and early to mid 2000s, our industry was less commercial than it is now. My creativity was encouraged by the whole team and I
have some amazing memories of jobs with French Vogue, Italian Vogue and German Vogue, where the whole team went wild. Through blood, sweat and many tears we created gorgeous editorials with stunning images.

How did you know that the makeup artist industry was where you wanted to be?
I was working with a clothing designer, and fashion stylists and editors would borrow his clothes for photo shoots. I had no idea what a photo shoot was. I loved clothes and music and dancing and wasn’t thinking about the process that went into creating the magazines that I would flip though. Then I started to understand there was a whole industry behind the scenes and chatted to everyone. I finally met a makeup artist who invited me to assist on a Culture Club music video. That’s when I knew my love of music, fashion, flamboyant shapes and color could become a career – as the makeup artist.

What are the things about working in the makeup and beauty industries that you love?
I love working with people and helping them feel more confident. I love to see a client leave my chair, look in the mirror and smile back at herself. There’s a body language that goes with confidence. If she throws her shoulders back, holds her head high and stalks onto the set then I know I did my job well. She doesn’t only look good, she feels good and the whole shoot is easier.

There is a very close connection with clients as you are literally in their face. People open up to their makeup artists and start sharing tons of very personal stuff. You have to be a good listener, a diplomat and part time therapist, depending on the age of the model – which can sometimes be as young as 14 or 15 years old. I often feel like a babysitter and find myself making sure they are eating and drinking enough, asking how are they getting home, etc. It’s so much more than makeup. It’s about nurturing. Supermodels, celebrities, brides – they are all the same to me. A bathrobe waiting to blossom into a red carpet gown.

Hairdressers and makeup artists spend a long time touching our clients as we do their makeup to get them ready for a shoot. When you have your hands literally on someone else, they can feel your intentions. People can tell if you are working in the moment to help create the best look for their bone structure and eye shape, just as they can tell if you are going through the motions doing the same tired look on every face you encounter. Yes, I am a makeup artist but we makeup artists have to nurture the model and build her confidence.

What are the things about your work that makes it the most interesting to you?
I love the element of surprise. I consider my job as a team player with other team players, i.e. model, hairstylist, photographer, clothes stylist, editor, creative director, digital tech, etc. You never know what the dynamic of the team is going to be, or what you will be required to do until you get to the shoot. Even if you have had production meetings and made plans ahead of time, you have to be flexible as the model may be replaced at the last minute. The look you had in your mind that you were dying to try out might have to be rethought if someone different shows up in your makeup chair.

What should someone who is looking to develop a career in makeup know before getting into the business?
Know your references. Study and research classic and modern photography and learn the names of the photographers who took those inspiring images. Make it fun! Create Pinterest boards of your research and soon you will have each era of photogra-phy and fashion and the styles of makeup relevant at the time all clearly organized. This way if you get to a job and someone asks you to create a 1960s Twiggy look or a 1990s Corrine Day type of face, you will be able to do it no problem.

What part of your job do you find most fascinating?
I have had several contracts with makeup companies all over the world to help them develop their makeup range or breathe new life into their current collection. That has been exciting. Being a spokesperson for a brand is a great achievement, and I was the spokesperson for Victoria’s Secret Beauty for many years. I helped create the VS Angels sexy sultry style and would often be testing out new prototype samples on the models backstage at the VS runway shows or on our studio or location shoots. These days, everyone knows the VS look so I am very proud to have worked closely with that company and created the look of the Angels.

How do you continue to grow your career as an artist?!
Throughout my career I always wanted to help others up the ladder, just as people had helped me. So I now do a lot of mentoring of young artists through Skype via The Freelancers Club (UK). I also give motivational keynote lectures at The Makeup Show throughout the USA and I teach one class, “The Business Behind the Beauty Industry,” at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. It’s a thrill to be a college professor but the work is hard and I had to learn how to teach and inspire my students, create interesting three-hour lessons, set homework assignments and grade papers. Education and makeup is where my path is leading these days and I love it.

Do you have a project or a moment in your career that that you are especially proud of?
That’s like asking if I have a favorite child! I am proud of most of my work so I cannot chose. One experience really touched me so I will share it with you. I was doing a meet-and-greet session for a huge beauty company at a mall in Chicago. A young lady came in at the beginning of the three-hour session so I met her, signed some things for her and later realized she was still there at the end of the event. She wanted to wait until the store was less busy to speak with me again. She told me she had been through a serious illness and was an amputee. When she was in the hospital she used to watch me on TV as the E! channel used to follow me around to a lot of photo shoots and backstage.

She said I had kept her spirits up and she enjoyed seeing me go through my day and would practice my makeup techniques in her hospital bed. She asked permission from the surgeon and anesthesiologist to be able to go into her final operation with makeup on, which was usually not allowed. She chose my sexy Victoria’s Secret Angel style as her “operation look.” I was blown away by how gracious and sweet she was and how she had waited so patiently to chat. I suddenly realized the massive power of the media. I still get teary thinking about that story.

What are some of the most important qualities that a makeup artist can have?
Flexibility, patience and an eye for detail. Willingness to be a team player goes without saying.

What makes you a good makeup artist?
I have not always been a good makeup artist. We all go through learning curves. It’s not always the products, either. You can buy the most expensive stuff but it won’t make any difference unless you practice, practice, practice! Make it work, that’s your job; great tools just help. Invest in some good brushes.

What inspires you?
I am constantly inspired by old soul train videos, glam rock, punk rock, David Bowie, Elvis, Courtney Love, my dog, your dog, the sky, the sunsets, nature…I mean take a look at a zebra’s eyes – they have perfect black eyeliner and the longest eyelashes.  Weird shapes and oils slicks in puddles, street art, graffiti, passion, Flamenco dancers, travel, indigenous cultures, the Jimmy Nelson book, “Before they Pass Away.” The list is endless.

What project did you have the most fun working on?
I loved working all the runway shows in London, Paris and New York. Keying a show and heading up a team backstage is a thrill and a fright at the same time. The adrenalin rush is insane. I also enjoy location shoots where we travel as a team to beautiful locations to shoot. I have seen most of the world through my job: Thailand, Tahiti, Kenya, Russia, Chile, China, Japan, Italy, France, Germany and many other places.

What project was the most challenging?
Ha! I went on a nine-day shoot for a huge editorial to Tahiti. The airline lost my luggage and when my makeup kit finally arrived was empty. Someone at the LA airport had cleared it out. I had to go shopping in Bora Bora for new makeup where there isn’t anything to buy. I ended up becoming inspired by the local beautiful Polynesian tattoos and decided to create fake tattoos all over the models’ bodies; different each day. Also it was monsoon season and it rained for nine days straight.

Is there someone you have always wanted to work on who you haven’t had the chance to do yet?
Not a face but there are photographers whose work I admire as I consider them artists who paint with light as I paint with a brush. I always wanted to work with Helmut Newton and create his red-lipped Amazonian strong semi robot women but never got the chance.

Whose work do you admire?
The artistry of Ellis Faas, Linda Cantello, Stephane Marais, Kevyn Aucoin, and many more. I respect and admire my peers and friends, James Vincent, Danessa Myricks and Orlando Santiago who are not only great artists but are helping to inspire and educate the next generation of makeup artists.

Follow Charlie Green at @MissCharlieGreen on Instagram
and @CharlieGreen999 on Twitter
Portraits/Selfies provided by Charlie Green
Photo credit top left portrait in grid: Cindy Quinn
Photos provided by Bryan Bantry Agency

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