Taylor Fitzgerald is a 22-year old makeup artist based out of NYC. She specializes in all aspects of beauty, film/TV, fashion, theatrical, and special FX makeup artistry. Taylor has worked for events such as Jingle Ball Tour and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week; fashion brands such as Anthropoligie and Target; and magazines including Cosmopolitan.com, Elle.com, Hamptons Magazine, and Beauty INC. Magazine. Her creativity and passion for the art of makeup is remarkable, and I was lucky enough to interview her earlier this month.
When did you first realize your love for makeup, and why did you choose this profession?
My love for makeup started at a super young age, probably around 10 or 11 years old. Having big sisters who wore intense 1990s makeup inspired me to play. Also, I always doodled a lot, initially thinking my career would lead to art on paper rather than on faces. I chose this as my career junior/senior year of high school when I knew for sure I wanted to invest all of my passion and time into all aspects of the makeup industry rather than going to a far away college like my friends did. Being an artist, I went to Make Up Designory and learned how to mold prosthetics into zombies and all things gore, and excelled in concept designing a creature—why they had huge talons, or why they had scales on their skin. I wanted to make a career of bringing a creature with a story to life by drawing, then molding and painting it. Within the past five years, I haven't done tons of special FX, but I have done a lot of runway, photo-shoot, and television makeup.
Who are some people that have inspired you throughout your career?
To name a few, Alex Box has always inspired me because she always colors outside the lines. She can create something so simple, yet it is such a statement. Pat McGrath has been such an inspiration to me because she rarely even wears makeup, which I can relate to. I'm the makeup artist who doesn't ever really wear a "beat face." She creates such beautiful looks for photo shoots, runways, etc. and will just be in her comfy clothes, bare-skinned and entirely confident. This made me feel that I didn't have to change my identity to pursue the career. I can work cool gigs feeling comfortable and confident. Also, other young artists I work with inspire me. I am continuously learning new techniques and ideas.
What are the biggest challenges makeup artists have to face?
Being a makeup artist can be quite challenging. The hustle is tough, but it's rewarding to see your portfolio grow, to book more gigs, and to network with more people. I find the greatest challenges were in the beginning when you are doing photo shoots for free and getting pictures as pay. My teachers at MUD always taught me that you must start somewhere, and be well rounded in everything. So working for free wasn't so inspiring. And working at a counter drove me nuts because I hated trying to sell people product. If you didn't like Dior mascara, I wasn't going to shove it in your face (rude!). I wanted to give up at times like these; I had big dreams, but I was stuck behind a counter 5 days a week. But if you let the "breaking point" push you to search harder for jobs that suit you more, what's meant to be will follow.
Also, big challenges makeup artists face are everyday things such as a look you were asked to create being lost in translation. Also, it can be hard to assist a terribly mean key artist. (I have cried plenty of times.) You need to have thick skin and remember everything can be fixed or changed, but never stoop to the level of those with runaway egos. Remember that the face of Vogue can be a simple look anyone can create; the difference is some people listen clearly and are easier to work with/for. Which is why they get the gig.
What’s the most exciting and memorable event you have worked with?
The most exciting and memorable event I've worked is easily my first Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. I love the chaos and the detail that goes into hair and makeup, and obviously I love the fashion. I've worked a lot of events and worked with celebrities during my career thus far, but working Fashion Week and excelling in it made me more proud and star-struck than I would be by any celeb. I remember looking at the pictures on Getty Images and thinking back to when I had these dreams at 17 and they seemed so far away. Definitely super memorable.
What is the difference between applying makeup for a TV shoot/magazine and applying makeup for a special event? (Prom, bridal, sweet 16)
There are some key differences in applying makeup for TV, runway, and photo-shoots as opposed to going to an event. These days, cameras are so good, I’m a strong believer that you do not have to wear heavy foundation to look smooth. Actually, cameras pick up when you wear heavy makeup now. But, to each their own. Some people love wearing it. I find for magazines/tv/runway, the lighting will always be so bright. It really varies, but either way, enhancing the contour, lips, and/or eyes is always important. I do find that for magazines/tv/runway it's best to always wait until they do a test shot before leaving. Cameras will make the talent sweat most likely, so more powder than normal is pretty common. And if they aren't familiar with being on camera, always let them know that. When doing makeup for a sweet sixteen, wedding, or red carpet event, pictures will be taken up close, really far away, and with generally more natural lighting. Most importantly, they will be personally in contact with others.
What do you prefer, FX makeup or more glamorous makeup?
I don't have a makeup situation preference. I love special FX, but love doing glamour makeup as well. I can't choose because I respect them both, and each has a purpose and requires lots of attention and detail.
What’s some of your favorites in your makeup bag?
Some of my favorite makeup in my makeup bag is my mascara—Clump Crusher by Covergirl (yes it's better than They're Real by Benefit), my Charlotte Tilbury retoucher pens (it's like a highlighter and concealer in one and sets well), My Anastasia brow powder, and absolutely my Anastasia brow gel. I also love my Brave MAC lipstick because it gives my lips "oomph" without too much color. I also love skincare and think well-maintained and prepped skin creates the best palette for makeup. I use vitamin E oil at night to hydrate my face and neck, Mario Badescu aloe moisturizer with SPF for the day, and NARS toner, which gets rid of all dead skin. I love it!
What products do you think should be a staple in every woman's purse?
I think the product that makes a person feel a little more glam than their usual. Whether it be a sheer lip-gloss, red lipstick, liquid liner, or bronzer, keep products in your bag that make you feel like an enhanced version of you. I like to remind people that nobody actually needs makeup. You deserve to feel confident no matter what. Makeup is fun, and there are different products for different people. Have in your bag whatever you are feeling compliments your vibe for that day.
If you weren’t a makeup artist, where do you think you would be?
Do you feel that feeling beautiful is important to a woman's confidence and self-esteem?
Confidence and self-esteem should always come from within. It sounds very cliché, but we can and should embrace being unique individuals in every way possible, whether we wear makeup or not. It's important to be proud of who we are in total before putting makeup on, and to allow that to be the cherry on top and just have fun with it. I genuinely feel beauty is reflected in our actions and in how we treat and empower others.