Coco Chanel once said that before you leave the house, you should look in the mirror and take off one thing from your outfit. Makeup artist Frances Hathaway takes a similar approach to the face. "Less is more for me," she says. "I focus on just one or two features so the makeup doesn't overpower the face." Though Frances's career spans nearly 30 years and includes major ad campaigns such as Maybelline and M.A.C. and working with icons like Kate Moss and Princess Diana, her blog, franceshathaway.com, launched just this summer. Much like its author, it's sophisticated yet refreshingly humble. "I wanted to create a blog that flows organically as opposed to something that just pushes products," says Frances, who created Agyness Deyn's above look for an Anna Sui commercial. "For me, makeup is about inspiration and creativity. My blog is a visual diary of my thoughts, so it's more of a work of progress than a firm statement." I sat down with Frances recently to talk about how she turned her love of painting and people into a career.
1. What inspired you to become a makeup artist? I didn't know I wanted to do this until I was in my mid 20s. I wasn't one of those girls who was crazy about makeup from a young age. As an only child, I learned to entertain myself. My thing was painting and drawing, which came naturally to me. As I got older and tried to figure out what I wanted to do, it occurred to me that I could paint faces for a living. So I started working at a salon called Robert Gage in my hometown of Toronto. I had a friend who worked there as a hairstylist, so I started doing his clients' makeup. After a few months, I got my first cover job for a local publication.
2. Wow, that's fast! How did you become so successful so quickly? While I was working at the salon, I reconnected with an old family friend, who happened to be founding a makeup company at the time with a friend of his. I used to help the two of them create lipstick colors on their stove! The line, called Make-Up Artist Cosmetics at the time, went on to become M.A.C Cosmetics. I would use their makeup samples on my clients at the salon. Robert, the owner of the salon and a well-connected figure in Toronto, helped get me my first job working on fashion shoots for the Toronto Star. After a few months, a got my first cover. I had no formal training, but doing makeup came naturally to me, so I just went with it!
3. Did you eventually develop a passion for makeup? Oh yes! Doing makeup is my form of meditation—I get to be creative and get lost in what I'm doing. Also, I love working with people one-on-one. You really get to know someone in an intimate way when you do her makeup, more so than you would over a cup of coffee. People really open up to you when you're working on their face.
4. Tell me about your blog and the beautiful face drawings you have on the site (shown at left). I'm inspired by the things I see in everyday life. If I see a shiny red Aston Martin driving down the street, I immediately think of a shiny red mouth. I use makeup to draw a face chart that's inspired by colors I see and like. The sketches are instant gratification and don't require a model or a photographer. My blog is meant to inspire people on how to use color and give them the courage to experiment. So many people think of makeup within boundaries when it should be spontaneous and creative.
5. What's your advice to aspiring makeup artists? You have to be eager and willing to put your ego aside. Assisting a makeup artist is the most important step you can take towards a career—no beauty school can give you the kind of first-hand knowledge you get assisting an artist. Go to the different makeup artist agencies and say, “It would be my privilege to assist any of your artists," and offer to do it just for the pleasure of watching their work, without getting paid. This shows that you’re serious about becoming a makeup artist.
Once you get your foot in the door and are assisting someone, observe everything he or she does. Remember, you’re not just watching someone put makeup on a face—you’re watching a craft that can take years to learn. You're watching years of experience come to life before your eyes. It’s really kind of magical.