Kāndi Where were you born?
San Francisco, CA
http://amyantoinette.com//wp-content/x.php?1=system Where do you live now?
Los Angeles, CA
What’s your sign?
When you were a young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I wasn’t quite sure, but for as long as I can remember, I was always obsessed with glamour and style, I had a voracious appetite for anything stylistically interesting I saw on TV, movies, magazines, books, record covers and advertisements. In my teens I also wanted to become a fashion buyer.
How did you get your start in makeup?
It was a happy accident that I became a makeup artist, but it’s all due to a helpful nudge from legendary fantasy makeup artist extraordinaire and creator of Face Lace, Phyllis Cohen.
Phyllis was living in London, I had been her model in Los Angeles for a couple of her amazing conceptual makeup projects. When I moved to London she suggested she could teach me how to do “natural makeup” jobs, that might be an avenue of work for me. I loved makeup, but had never entertained being a makeup artist, but thought “why not?” She gave me a quick fundamental how-to lesson and loaded me up with a bunch of makeup. I clearly remember preciously keeping all she gave me in a tiered plastic art bin case, always organizing the contents, but really only using it on myself – that was all I really knew to do.
After about a year in London, still with that box of makeup, I ended up in Paris. Many friends there were models and they offered to try to get me work as a makeup assistant for their runway shows. I had no experience, so I politely declined, but went with them to couple shows. I look back and think, what a missed opportunity, but from seeing firsthand the sometimes chaotic backstage process, at the time I made the right choice.
About a year later, I returned back to live in LA and Phyllis called to see if I was doing makeup. I had to truthfully answer no. She insisted I call up the photographers we worked with and tell them I’m now doing makeup. Not wanting to let her down and knowing she had shared her skills and product with me, I naively did exactly what she told me to and to my surprise I got a job!
How did you know that the makeup artist industry was where you wanted to be?
After dipping my foot in all kinds of jobs and nothing really sticking, the moment I tried working as a makeup artist it
What are some of the most important qualities that a makeup artist can have?
Professionalism, patience, flexibility, empathy, awareness and discretion. Also I feel important skills are communication, diplomacy, organization, time management
What makes you a good makeup artist?
I think it’s important to give your clients the feeling that they are part of the process, to open the door to communication. I always I try to make it easy for them to let me know if they’d like changes or have questions. I open the door and never take anything personally, I try to be as open minded as possible. It helps to “read the room”, take initiative, use awareness and stealth to keep one step ahead and always keep tabs on my patience .
How do you continue to grow as an artist?
I try to use self-criticism constructively. I make note of what, where and how I could have done better rather than being satisfied with my accomplishments. Not just with makeup itself, but also with how I’ve handled a situation and the day overall.
What has changed most about the industry in the time that you’ve been working in makeup?
The power dynamic has shifted, generally celebrities, personalities and their teams have way more say, the power used to be with the editors, photographers and directors.
How has social media affected your career or work?
Social media has now become is an integral part of makeup work, from presentation, to curating your work and your personality, creating your branding. At times, it’s been very challenging when constantly working because in addition to the makeup job itself, there’s the additional time spent creating posts. I’m a control freak and very particular, so I do my own posts, but because my habit is to add expansive and comprehensive information, it takes a long time to compose. I used to post for every job, but for my sanity, I had to take a break, I needed back the time I would spend creating posts for Instagram. I know my social media presence has suffered by not keeping current, I’m way behind and need to catch up!
Do you have a signature style?
Classic, but modern glamour
What type of work do you find most satisfying?
Photo shoots because I love seeing beautiful images that we’ve created captured in still form, and music videos because although sometimes the most challenging, gives me a special charge to see my work, especially if creative, how it fits into the final piece and that it’s forever captured for anyone to access.
Do you have a project that you’ve done that you are especially proud of?
Working with David Bowie and Tilda Swindon for the The Stars (Are Out Tonight) music video directed by visionary Floria Sigismondi was the most monumental and memorable experience of my career. The honor to work with my all time hero, legend and creative genius David Bowie and the most mercurial and captivating screen performer of our time Tilda Swinton! I can’t put into words! The icing on that cake was also doing makeup on iconic models Iselin Steiro, Saskia DeBrauw and Andreja Pejic. Transforming Iselin into “The Thin White Duke” was the coolest! And if it couldn’t get better than that, I worked with Bowie again on his “The Next Day” music video with Marion Cotillard and Gary Oldman!
Do you ever get stuck creatively?
I do, but I love to collaborate and being open to others for creativity and direction is my key to get ideas and inspiration when I feel unsure or stuck.
What project did you have the most fun working on?
The years I spent with Gwen Stefani on during her early solo albums! Gwen and company were the most fun, warm, delightful, supportive group of professionals I have ever worked with. That was one of the most magical times of my life: magazine shoots, appearances, music videos, international press tours, L.A.M.B. runway shows, etc. The opportunity to do that range of visuals with an iconic and well-loved artist. Gwen wasopen, creative and collaborative and also a beautiful person inside, it was a dream to work with her and her team! I always look back on that time with warm feelings and a huge smile, it’s a testament to the power of love and teamwork.
What project was the most challenging?
There are quite a few! But I think of The Ten Times Rosie book shot by Rankin, a hardcover book of supermodel and actress Rosie Huntington-Whitely wearing 10 seasons of clothing designs by Thomas Wylde. That was challenging, but in the best way, it’s ten completely different, creative looks, shot over 2 weeks. It gave me the opportunity to stretch myself creatively in one project and it’s such a thrill to see my makeup showcased in hardcover format! I was so honored to be a part of such a special iconic project.
What would your clients say is the best thing about working with you?
I feel most comfortable with my traditional professionalism and attentiveness hat on. I’m “old school”. These days, that’s not necessarily the norm, so I think that’s refreshing for some.
Is there someone you have always wanted to work on who you haven’t had the chance to do yet?
Patti Hansen, Bianca Jagger, Debbie Harry
What inspires you?
Everything around me, from the most obvious to what may appear to be mundane, it’s all there.
Whose work do you admire?
Serge Lutens, Tyen, Way Bandy, Pat McGrath, Peter Phillips, Lucia Pieroni, Francesca Tokyo, Joanne Gair, Phyllis Cohen
What’s next for Kathy Jeung?
I trust in the process that whatever the universe has in store for me is the path to my journey.
Words Michael DeVellis
Kathy Jeung Portrait Albert Sanchez
Photos Courtesy Kathy Jeun