We sat down with our long-time friend, professional makeup artist and educator, James Vincent. James plays a key role in The Makeup Show, On Makeup Magazine, and The Powder Group, and is one of the most respected makeup artists and educators in the industry.
Frends: How did you get into the beauty profession?
I had always done theater and did my first makeup for a haunted house at the local youth center, but it was The Body Shop that gave me my first opportunity. I was in school for Social Work and working with pediatric HIV and Womens Health, and The Body Shop hired me to develop a camp with them and then hired me in the stores. I fell in love with the beauty industry. I moved to Atlanta to write my thesis on Women of Color and the White Beauty Myth and wanted to work in makeup. I was hired by MAC Cosmetics at their first location in the South. They gave me amazing opportunities and it all started happening.
I began travelling with MAC and working with celebrities. They set me up with and it just kept going. I started in hip hop music at LaFace Records with people like TLC, and began assisiting artists like Billy B. Urban Decay paid for me to move to NYC to launch the line and I began assisiting artists like Kevyn Aucoin, Dick Page and Linda Cantello. I fell in love with fashion and editorial as well as music and celebrity - continue to work in all areas today twenty years later. A decade ago I decided I missed community building and education. I went back to my social work roots in a way by working with Michael DeVellis and The Powder Group, and Shelly Taggar with The Makeup Show, to focus on my love of bringing artists together at events and educational opportunities.
Frends: Who are some of your greatest influences in art and life?
So many. I find inspiration in classic films, the works of fine artists, and everything around me. Old movies like vintage horror, and artists including Robert Motherwell and Pablo Picasso. I love to travel and just watch people and see how they live. There is so much inspiration in everyday. I also keep an eye on the direction of fashion to ensure my make up is always both timely and timeless.
Music is probably my biggest inspiration. I start everyday with a soundtrack. I love the NYC and LA Punk scene of the 70's and 80’s and the bands that came out of places like CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. I love female rock. Joan Jett is a huge influence on me as a person and an artist. One of the reasons I do makeup is because I fell in love with the Debbie Harry “Rockbird” album cover that Linda Mason did makeup for, and a cover of Harper’s Bazaar that Kevyn Aucoin did in the nineties with Nadja Auerman in a similar look. I was lucky because Kevyn became one of my first mentors and Linda still inspires me today as a friend and fellow artist. Also the Seattle Grunge and the Riot Grrrl scenes are seen in a lot of my work. I have been fortunate enough to work with Joan Jett and a number of the female rockers including Courtney Love, Kathleen Hannah, and Sleater Kinney. I also worked on the Nirvana reunion for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which was the coolest thing ever. One of the things I love about makeup is the way it has allowed this weird kid from a small place to be able to meet and work with the people who I grew up idolizing, and live and travel places I thought I would never see.
Frends: That's amazing! What are three tips that you would give an upcoming artist who wants a career like yours?
Educate Yourself. Education is constant in this business as trend, technique, and technology are constantly changing. I always want to be aware of the latest products and people, and work everyday to learn new things and push myself.
Community is key. You have to be a part of this industry and give back to it as much as you take out. Attend events, support local and independent brands and artists, and show up anywhere where people are excited about makeup and the beauty business. The more people you meet the more likely you are to be invested in your community, and people will want to bring you on to projects and productions.
Be kind, be professional and have integrity. In this ago of social media is so easy to get caught up in drama or the spin of the celebrity instead of focusing on the art and craft of what we do. Be sure you can be proud of all of the work you produce and any energy or words you put out into the world. I hire more artists for their personality over their portfolio. Being a good, fun person to be around and a hard worker goes a long way towards success.
Frends: Thanks for that! Now let's get to why everyone is here. Tell us, and show us what is in your kit!
Here are some of my must haves. As a New York based makeup artist my kit tends to be much smaller than LA artists. My agent is still in LA and I kept a place there for many years so I kind of straddle both coasts --- but as a New Yorker I try to stay compact and only carry the product that is essential or allows me endless possibility.
Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner
The big gun. Maurice Stein is a huge mentor to me and he and his family were the first brand to sign on to The Makeup Show and support us. I knew his brush cleaner before I knew the man himself. In New York I may have three jobs in one day and then get on a flight overnight to be in another city and on set the next morning. Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner removes the tough product from even my most precious brushes gently and effectively and conditions them in the process. I have had some of my brushes for about tenty years and am convinced it is because I keep them perfect with some help from Cinema Secrets.
No Color Powder As an editorial artist and someone who sees my celebrities in 4k and 6k camera, I do not like to see powder on the skin. I am known for creating the most natural coverage and complexion. No Color Powder keeps away shine and distraction without looking heavy or changing or altering the complexion I work hard to create.
Bioderma Cleansing Solution Bioderma has been in my kit since I started. It was not available in the US but I started by assisiting artists that were working abroad. It is a gentle Micellar that works without water so it is great for the artist on the go and takes off even the toughest bold, waterproof black without leaving residue behind so you can work over it right away. This is essential in editorial. Every artist I know has always carried it and now it is nice to see it in the States.
Z-Palette I love an empty palette so I can put my favorites in one place. The see through cover of the Z Palette is genius when you are working quickly in a cramped place. I carry every size they make and create everyday palettes as well as custom palettes for each client.
Beauty Blender Rae Ann Silva is a game changer. This little makeup sponge allows me to bring a skin like texture to even my fullest coverage applications. I love the way it manipulates product and helps me to perfect.
Duo Adhesive Great for keeping on lashes and appliances on even the most sensitive skin. I carry black and clear.
Viseart #01 Matte Shadow Palette I call the Viseart palette my money maker. It is ideal for brows, shadow, contour and so much else. The hand pressed highly pigmented shadows work on my wide range of clients and I love supporting an independent brand that cares so much about the pro community.
Beauty So Clean Sanitizer Spray Another must have for me. Beauty So Clean knows that pros need something to protect their client and product, and that people feel more comfortable and confident in the artist working on them when they know hygiene and health and safety are taken into consideration in our application. It does the job without comprising the product we love in our kit.
Skindinavia Finishing Spray and Bridal Spray The perfect way to set my makeup. The job of the artist is to design, apply and maintain their makeup and Skindinavia allows me to do all of this without constant fuss or worry.
About James Vincent Makeup Artist, Beauty Editor, Director of Artist Relations and Education
As Director of Education and Artistry for The Makeup Show, The Powder Group and On Makeup Magazine, James is fortunate enough to work with makeup lines and makeup artists at all levels of the industry. Over the years James Vincent's passion for the art of makeup has included nearly every genre of makeup artistry. Film and theatre, television and celebrity work, editorial and runway work and includes training and product development positions for such companies as MAC, Stila, Armani, YSL and Make Up For Ever. James now focuses his career on working internationally in fashion, film, theater and editorial. His resume includes clients as diverse as designers Ashton Michael, Charlotte Ronson and Marco Marco. James' work in the music industry spans genres and includes legendary musicians like Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine, and Courtney Love to Joan Jett and the Foo Fighters. In fashion, film and television, James' resume includes leading ladies like Liv Tyler, Reese Witherspoon, and Jane Fonda. He has also been privileged enough to work with Barack Obama. Having worked with photographers including Alexander Thompson, Mike Ruiz and David Lachapelle, James' work has been seen on the cover of Paper and Atomic, and in magazines including ID, V, Index, Wonderland, and Surface. He has been featured on numerous television shows as a beauty expert such as NBC's The Today Show. James has also worked in television as key artist for shows including American Idol and on stage for productions including Roundabout Theatre's "The Philanthropist." Nylon magazine, The New York Times and WWD have named James as a "Makeup Artist to Watch". James is currently the Beauty Editor for On Makeup Magazine and Galore Magazine and contributes to countless blogs and publications.