The Unintentional Artist - Commercial Makeup Artist Tania Russell

Occasionally I'll get an email from a fellow Tweeter or makeup artist to check out anther artist's website that they may be a good a fit for the blog (What? I can't do all the research on my own), sometimes ehh not so much... however, this Image Maker was without a doubt a resounding YES! Her work lept off my screen, surely you'll agree, so -- read the rest to find out how Tania happened upon a career as an MUA and how she's made the best of her "fortunate mishap", in addition to why you might want to consider heading to Europe and not to backpack!

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How long have you been in the industry?

Tania Russell: I’ve been in the industry… oh… maybe 12 years in total but about 6-7 of those seriously working full time as an artist.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to become a makeup artist?
Tania Russell: I still don’t. LOLOL! No but seriously it was never in the plans. I’m a musician and I come from a family of musicians so most people thought I would do that (and I do, actually) and then I went throughout college with the thought was that I was going to go into law. I got into doing makeup through a random series of fortunate incidences.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Did you receive any formal education prior to launching your career?

Tania Russell: Formal makeup training? Sort of. My random series of fortunate events is as follows; I was a student at UCLA at which time I had friends in the film dept. They asked me to do makeup for their little student films – which I did – and than as they progressed to getting jobs they referred me, and so I started getting little jobs. I actually started working as an artist in Films and I did go to school for Film makeup (which is quite different). But then when I stopped doing films and went into the Beauty and Print side of the industry, that I did on my own and without any formal training.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the industry and makeup artists specifically?

Tania Russell: I would have to say the biggest misconception is that it’s Glamorous. I don’t know who came up with that one but they are very incorrect. LOL! Every Hair, Makeup and Wardrobe stylist I know has serious war tales. Is it more fun than sitting behind a desk? Sure. Glamorous? Yeah, no. And then specifically about makeup artists the perception seems to be that we’re all ditzy and all we think about is makeup. Now I do believe that you won’t be successful in this field if you don’t love it, yes. But I’m an intelligent, educated and varied person and makeup is but one thing that I do. Most of my artist friends are the same way.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! When was your first big break, and what was it?

Tania Russell: I wouldn't say I’ve had a Big Break. My career progression has been more on the slow and steady tip like a wave gathering momentum and then crashing up on the shore.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! I was introduced to your website by another Image Maker, Kim Weber when I saw your images I was not only blown away by how gorgeous they were but also what jumped out was your attention to detail and how very “clean" your work is. Would you say that’s kind of your niche?

Tania Russell: Thank you! And yes, clean n’ pretty is definitely my niche. Even if I do “edgier” I stay on the cleaner side. It suits my aesthetic better, firstly; I don’t care for heavy-handed makeup I prefer to see skin. Secondly, it’s the reality of my market out here; commercial clients demand clean. They don’t like a heavily made-up look.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! You’re more of a Commercial Editorial Artist than Fashion Makeup Artist can you explain to the readers what that means?

Tania Russell: The bulk of my work is for commercial and what’s known as “lifestyle” clients. Instead of working on things like Fashion Week or on a edgy fashion editorial or for a fashion advertising client like Gucci I’m more apt to be called for catalog, and for print ads for companies like Oakley, Wal-Mart and the like. The magazines I work for a different as well. The makeup and the overall aesthetic of these types of shoots tends to be more clean, pretty, fun, happy, shiny type work instead of the more gritty, hard and edgy. Also, model-wise, I’m not always working with high-fashion models.

Sometimes I am, but more often I’m working with commercial models who are generally more of the traditionally pretty and handsome type, rarely ever edgy in any way. And then sometimes I am working with “real people”-type models if not straight up real people, and a lot of Kids grooming. I love kids, but needless to say you have to be very patient and like being around kids to handle that detail. Then lastly, I do a fair amount of celebrities (which is a whole ‘nother thing) and TV commercials. Celebs and TV are an inevitable reality of being in the market that I am (California).

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! You’ve also done music videos for such stars as Britney Spears and Christiania Aguilera, how does a day on the set of a video shoot differ from a day on the set of say an editorial campaign?

Tania Russell: OH the difference between night and day. The days on any type of production job (music videos, TV commercials, etc.) are much much longer and much more intense. There are a lot of people and personalities to negotiate, there’s more of a “pecking order’ and – IMO – less of a collaborative team process… It’s different. On the upside, the makeup itself on music videos like those is much more “creative” than what I will generally do on a commercial job and it’s a more fast-paced working environment. For me it was fun while I was doing them but it got grueling after a while and I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. TV commercials are the only production type jobs I’m still interested in doing. Otherwise I prefer the print world, for sure. (it should be noted that I was not the Key on either the Britney or the Christina videos, I was on the makeup team for both).

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Noted you were in the building. LOL No, seriously you still deserve kudos for that, you must be a pretty great artist to even be on the team. Tania, you also do quite a bit of men's grooming how does working with male models differ from working with female models and did you have to seek out any additional training or education to work with male models?

Tania Russell: I “lurve” doing men’s grooming. There are some folks who do men’s grooming who are more barbers and deal more with hair work and there are some folks who do men’s grooming who style hair and focus more on makeup, etc. I fall into the latter group. Therefore, I didn’t need any additional training per se but I did have to get good at men’s hairstyling.

The main difference from doing women makeup-wise is that you are most likely not going to do all the color work that you do with women (obviously) but the bigger difference is really temperament. Men don’t like being fussed over and they want to stay feeling like men, particularly if you’re talking about grooming men who aren’t models (actors, musicians, athletes, etc.), which is often the case. They want to look good, but they don’t want to sit in a makeup chair forever and they don’t want to be endlessly fiddled with. They are often pretty particular about how they want to look. It’s really about putting them at ease and gaining their trust that you want them to look their most manly best and you aren’t trying to “girl-a-fy” them in anyway.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Tania, what’s a typical working day like for you, if there is such thing as typical for you?

Tania Russell: Yeah, there really isn’t a typical day. The reality right now with the economy being the way it is, Advertising is always one of the first and worst hit industries whenever there’s an economic slow down. Everyone is feeling the pinch and everyone has to hustle twice as hard in order to keep going.

My days now days are a mix of working on-set and heavy promotions and meetings to stay in circulation and stay in the game. On-set workdays vary with the type of project I’m working on but let’s say I’m working on a typical (for me) commercial type job. For whatever reason advertisers like to wake up early – lol! – so I’ll be up @ 5:30-6 am, meditate, do some form of exercise and be on set by 8am usually. Most of the time I have multiple models to get ready, therefore I’m focused on my primary task of getting talent on set. I won’t really eat or take any type of break for the first several hours until everyone is camera ready, because I never want the photographer to be held up shooting because models aren’t ready.

Also on commercial jobs there may not be as many makeup/hair changes per se but I may have talent arriving at different times throughout the day so I’m constantly working in that way. Other types of jobs may vary… I could go on. LOL. On non-set days I don’t wake up quite so early, but I’m still working; sending emails, making calls, sending promo materials, setting up and taking meetings, etc. Weekends are also not off limits in my world. I’ll take them off when I can, but his last weekend – for example – I worked straight through on 2 different shoots. One way or another I’m most always working.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! It seems that every up and coming makeup artist wants to work with celebrities or do the Vogue campaigns, what advice do you have for these aspiring artists?

Tania Russell: Well. I tell ya. The United States of America has one Primary fashion market and one Primary fashion market alone that market is New York City. I feel bad whenever I hear of makeup artists who want to do fashion but they’re in Timbuktu because it’s just not going to happen.

There are limited amounts of the fashion in LA, Chicago, Miami, SF, etc. However if an artist TRULY wants a fashion career – such that one day they would end up working with Vogue and keying Fashion Week shows – they need to be in NYC. I mean, really, they should go to Europe for a while and then come back to NYC but if that isn’t an option they at least need to make the commitment to spend time in NYC.

As far as celebrities, it depends. I’ve always done some celebrity, but it’s never been the focus of my career. I would guess that LA is still the primary celebrity market but more than anything, an artist has got to be with the right agencies to really get in the groove of becoming a true Celebrity Artist. PR people, managers, etc. just have their agencies that they know and work with and if an artist isn’t affiliated with those rosters chances are limited that they’ll be getting that work.

Not impossible – as I can attest to – but limited. In the smaller markets be the best artist in that area and you’ll get all the best, larger jobs that come through town. It’s a different type of career than an artist in a Primary or Secondary market, but it’s still a very viable way to have a good career and I know several artists who’ve gone that route and who work regularly.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Wow that’s some awesome advice Tania, also you mentioned that if it's feasible for an artist it would be advantageous to move to Europe, why Europe and how so?

Tania Russell: I mentioned that because it’s actually very common amongst the very high end, elite artists to have done so. To get to that echelon its very important that your book looks very high end and not at all regional. The Fashion Industry in Europe is always ahead of the US in terms of trends, there's more true fashion shot there, and photographers often go and models are often sent there to develop their books. Hair/Makeup/Wardrobe stylists who are there can often develop a higher-end book including tears more readily than they could here in the States.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Do you think Do you hire assistants, do any mentoring for young artists or provide any workshops or training, what would be the best way for them to reach out to you?

Tania Russell: Yes to both, I have a side website named Makeup to Go! , where I provide lessons and also services for individuals. I created the site because… well, it’s just kind of a different animal from working in the media industries and I needed to keep those two businesses separate. I’m not a school and my class schedule is crazy erratic due to my work schedule but I try to do two classes a year and I’ll also do private lessons as schedule permits. As far as mentoring goes, I’m listed on Makeup Mentors which I think is a pretty underused resource but I have to say many of the inquiries I’ve gotten off of there have been No Bueno. There’s a lot of incredibly bad and incorrect advice floating around online and a lot of young artists seem to feel that they are entitled to a career. LOL! I don’t know what to tell those folks but good luck with that attitude. Feel free to email me, but please don’t be crazy when you do. LOL!

Thanks to Tania for your candid advice and insightful words to see more of her work be sure to visit her personal website and check her twitter.

Ciao for now...Class is dismissed!

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Deconstructing Tresses - Hair Architect and Celebrity Hairstylist Keith Campbell Part I

I was so delighted to have had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Keith Campbell AKA the Hair Architect, talking to Keith felt more like talking to a big brother or an old friend, than someone I’d never met personally. He’s not only incredibly talented but smart, charismatic, focused and beyond driven.

You hear these stories about people that have “made it” and sometimes you wonder if it’s true or some great story the artist’s PR team cooked up to make a great read. Though Mr. Campbell’s arrival to New York city does sound like a made for TV story, you just know that he’s really been through some things and triumphed over some adversities because despite his unquestionable talent and confidence he never comes off as cocky or self absorbed true to his Twitter bio he’s “Just a dude that loves the beauty game”

Keith proved that when he ditched his Midwestern roots after a only a weekend visit to the Big Apple. “…traveling through the Lincoln Tunnel for the first time, I don’t know what it was, but I knew I was home, I knew I had to get back there.”

Get back there is exactly what he did, within three months, Keith had settled his life back home and landed in New York City on a Friday afternoon with only $250.00 in his pocket and a job referral that would have to wait until Tuesday when the salons opened.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How long have you been in the industry?

Keith Campbell: I’ve been in the industry for 16 years.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to be a hair stylist?

Keith Campbell: My daughter’s mom comes from a family of hairstylists and I used to hang out with them all the time, I was very fascinated by what they did.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Other than a cosmetology school have you had any additional training or education that you believe has helped you to stand out amongst the sea of other hair stylist?

Keith Campbell: I’m a visual person so if you show me something once, I’m able to pick up on it just like that, so after taking a Toni and Guy class I bought all of their hair cutting dvds and practiced and studied the technical process of hair cutting.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What was your first big break?

Keith Campbell: My first big break in the editorial world was when Sandra Martin (Essence Magazine) called me and told me to bring a model and do her hair for her.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Would you say that you have a niche, or is there anything particular that your clients or industry peers would say you're known for?

Keith Campbell: It would have to be hair cutting.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! I get it, hence the name “Hair Architect”, tell our readers Keith, what’s a typical working day like for you?

Keith Campbell: Depending on whether or not I’m going straight to the salon or if I have a shoot a typical day could start at 6:00 a.m., I’ll pray/meditate and spend some time with my son (14 months old) before heading to the gym, if I need to be on set the day could start as early as 5:30 a.m. We have salon meetings on Mondays sometimes I’m meeting with my production team, or agents regarding other meetings for teaching or speaking engagements or inventory or other stuff like that.

This was a really long interview and I have so much more of my conversation with Keith that I want to share with you so stay tuned for Part II to find out more about his cutting classes, television show, books and why he feels that paying your dues is a must and why you will need to be more than just a fantastic stylist to achieve career longevity in addition to what it takes to land a gig with a mega beauty brand like L'Oréal.

Ciao for now…Class is dismissed!

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The Fresh Cut Prince - Celebrity Barber Mar aka MarDaBarber

I was intrigued when I heard there was a barber out there… dubbed the “youngest celebrity barber”, and that at only twenty-two he was already cutting some big names in both the sports and rap game. So, of course the beauty sleuth (that's me) had to get the scoop for you guys.

This interview was a long time coming I think I started the process at least three months ago, there were schedule conflicts and communication break downs so much so at one point I thought it just wasn’t going to happen. I’ll be honest, I immediately pegged him as young and unfocused… However, my snap judgment couldn’t have been further from the truth. Mar is the real deal! I caught his tweets last weekend hotel hopping late night in Vegas getting his celeb clients fresh for a night out on the town.

Even this early in his career Mar understands the importance of philanthropy and helping other fellow groomers even as he continues to blaze his trail in the industry… keep reading to find out how Mar intends to BRING the “new school”…

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! I heard that you’re like the youngest Celebrity Barber is that true?

“MarDaBarber”: As far as I know, yes that’s true… I’m 22.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Who was the fist celebrity that you cut?

“MarDaBarber”: Clyde Carson – I know him from the Bay…

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How long have you been cutting hair?

“MarDaBarber”: Since 6th grade, it was my cousin, who used to let me practice on him, that's how I perfected my cutting style.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to become a barber?

“MarDaBarber”: I grew up in the barber shop, it runs in the family. I liked the energy in the place, a lot goes on in the barber shop besides just cutting hair. I wanted to be a part of that, I just knew that that was what I wanted to do.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Did you get your barber certification through apprenticeship or did you go through a barber program?

“MarDaBarber”: Actually a little bit of both. I still go to school when I’m not traveling, they’re really understanding of my schedule. I think both ways has it's pros and cons each individual just has to weigh what is the best option for them.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Would you say that you have a niche, or is there anything particular that your clients or industry peers would say you're known for?

“MarDaBarber”: I would have to say my fades, I’m known most for my fades.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! I have to agree your fades are "tight" (they still say that right? lol) Mar, what’s a typical working day like for you? Do you even do typical?

“MarDaBarber”: It really depends if I’m on the road or not, but if I’m cutting in the shop I have this method I use that makes the day flow easier, for example maybe I’ll do designs on Tuesdays, and Fades on Wednesdays and Fridays.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! There’s a stigma about barbers and barbershops, what would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the industry and barbers specifically?

“MarDaBarber”: That’s true for some barbers, but they’re short changing themselves. Did you know that a barber on top of his game could make “Doctor” money? It really is possible to make six-figures cutting. I’m serious when I’m working, I’m not on my phone, I’m paying attention to what I’m doing because every cut I send out the door is a walking billboard for Mar Da Barber. I’m thinking beyond just cutting hair. I plan to own a couple of barber shops myself, and when I tour with artists I’m coming with my own tour bus. MardaBarber's tour bus!

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How do you feel about women barbers, do you feel they are equally embraced in the business?

“MarDaBarber”: It’s difficult to become a woman barber until people get to know your work. There are some girls out there that can cut, I’m actually working with a female barber now, you’ll be hearing about her real soon, she’s good she's going to be big.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! It seems that every up and coming barber wants to work with celebrities. What advice do you have for someone new who is trying to break into the industry and wanting to work with celebrities?

“MarDaBarber”: Money isn’t always going to be abundant so if you’re getting into this for the money then go do something else… It’s important to read up on the industry first find out about the education what the requirements are and determine if this is the life style for you it’s not as easy as it may look. We’re more than just barbers we have to know and be knowledgeable about a lot of things, some days I’m a counselor or a relationship expert, the next day I could be a “stylist” I mean our clients ask us for all sorts of advice when they’re in the chair.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! So you’re Affiliated with Barber’s Only Magazine? I had the pleasure of interviewing Craig, real cool guy. What does it mean to be affiliated with them?

“MarDaBarber”: Yea it’s a big deal you know these are guys that have been in the game for a long time, you know and they’re taking me under their wing and are mentoring me -- so I can grow and learn from them and they can learn a few things from me too.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Really? Like what?

"MarDaBarber": Like this whole social media thing with the internet and MySpace, and Twitter and Facebook you know they didn’t have that type of marketing when they were coming up… I go “hard” on Twitter. I can bring that new age marketing to the fold and I attract and appeal to a different audience, you know the up and coming barbers are styles are different but we can all benefit from one another.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What else is Mar involved in?

“MarDaBarber”: Well for back to school I’ll be giving away free cuts at the boys and girls club and we’re also going to go into the shelter and do hair cuts there too, all the proceeds from the cuts will go back to the shelter. You know a simple haircut can change someone’s attitude make them feel better about themselves, build confidence to maybe go look for a job or something. I'll also probably be in a few more shows this year.

That’s awesome Mar! I’m glad we did his interview.

I’m expecting really big things from Mar, he's going to keep in touch and let us know what he's doing and you know we'll be the first to get a picture of that tour bus, I have a feeling that Mar is going to make that happen.

For more information or to contact Mar, visit his website.

Ciao for now… Class is dismissed!

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She Bangs - Celebrity Hair Stylist Rukey Styles

I've heard whispers about this week's Image Maker here and there around town, she's uber talented, she's nice, she's got mad skills, her weaving and extension applications are "beweavable"! All the buzz really had me wanting to know who "Ms. Rukey Styles" was, and ta-da just like that she magically appeared on Twitter. (Why of course!)

Not to sound cliche-ish but we've all heard the saying birds of a feather flock together or talent recognizes talent -- so it came as no surprise that Ms. Styles is great friends with our dream girl Tia Dantzler (pictured above with Ms. Styles being prepped for an Uptown Magazine shoot)

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How long have you been in the industry?

Rukey Styles: Professionally, I have been in the industry for thirteen years.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to be a hair stylist?

Rukey Styles: It was between the ages of fourteen and fifteen. From age seven to my teens, my hairstylist would roller set my hair and brush it up into a pony tail. I was getting older and wanted a change. I began to experiment with my hair and enjoyed it. People noticed and wanted me to do theirs like mine.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Other than cosmetology school have you had any additional training or education that you believe has helped you to stand out amongst the sea of other hair stylist?

Rukey Styles: [Other than my cosmetology education I would say] It is simply my passion for the art of styling.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! When was your first big break and what was it?

Rukey Styles: My first big break was when I was asked to work on a calendar with the rapper Twista. He is a pretty cool guy to work with. It was a great opportunity.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! I had a chance to view your website, you do absolutely amazing work! Would you say that you have a niche, or is there anything particular that your clients or industry peers would say you're known for?

Rukey Styles: I think my clients know that I have the ability to take a project to another level. My work ranges from every day to avant garde. I think that’s what makes it exciting.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! You’re also a salon owner is that correct? What’s a typical working day like for you, if there is such thing as typical?

Rukey Styles: Not exactly. I own a non surgical hair replacement studio. I provide hair replacement services to those experiencing some form of alopecia (balding) due to genetics, hormones or medicinal reasons. I also do what I call “Added Glamour” for people who want to add length or volume to their hair with different forms of custom extensions, hair pieces, or wigs. There is no typical day. My day is usually filled with doing many techniques to customize hair to my clients needs.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Oh wow, that's a fantastic niche you've established! Rukey, what would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the industry and hair stylists specifically?

Rukey Styles: I think that professional hair stylists don’t get the respect that we deserve. People don’t recognize that being a stylist is a career. We are educated. Have you noticed that no matter how well your clothes are put together if your hair doesn’t look good, you don’t look good? We make everything come together. Give us that credit.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Absolutely, I agree! Also, Rukey it seems that every up and coming makeup artist and hairstylist wants to work with celebrities. What advice do you have for someone new who is trying to break into the industry and wanting to work with celebrities?

Rukey Styles: Every hairstylist or makeup artist wants to do celebrities to get the recognition or be responsible for the look that everyone wants to imitate. Treat all of your clients as if they were a celebrity. If you are good at what you do, people will hear about you.

BEAUTYSCHOOLED! That's some awesome advice! So what’s next for you? Any projects in the works that you can share with the readers?

Rukey Styles: I have some great projects coming up. Stay tuned to for updates.

For more information on Rukey including assist and training information be certain to visit her website and follow her Twitter.

Ciao for now... Class is dismissed!

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