Tell us about yourself (where you're from, how you got into makeup, etc)
Hey fellow artist! My name is actually Melanie but I prefer MJ when working on set, I was born and raised in Los Angeles County, in the valley mostly. I’ve always been interested in art since I was shorter (yes I’m a short girl). But I had no idea that I would become a makeup artist. Instead I was constantly switching career goals from singer, veterinarian, lawyer and more. I did stick with music for four years and swore up and down I would follow my passion for music. Unfortunately I wasn’t supported and ended up letting that dream go. Funny enough, I did play with makeup during my high school years and did do friends and sister makeovers. Its interesting to me that I ended up turning another passion of mine into a career. Looking back, I remember a friend of mine mentioning to me to become a makeup artist and I laughed about it because I was determined to push for music. It was during a dark time in my past when I decided to turn my life around and pursue beauty. I went ahead and signed up for cosmetology school and shortly after realized I was much more interested in makeup school.
2. Did you attend school?
Before Make-up Designory in 2010, I went to Academy of Esthetics and Cosmetology in 2008.
3. Where are you currently located?
Serving Los Angeles County, but live in Santa Clarita.
4. How do you get booked no your current jobs?
Mostly referrals, but I’m consistent in craigslist, mandy, and facebook forums.
5. What is your favorite piece of work you are most proud of that you have
This is a difficult one for me to answer because I tend to feel proud after my most challenging makeups. I have to say the ones I’m most proud of are the effects makeups I work from home. For example the last one I worked on I made my own silicone prosthetics. I sculpted sea creature like textures/parts, molded them, dripped silicone and let them sit. Mind you I was nervous to make these because it had been seven years since I made a silicone anything since school, and the method I went with was new for me. However I did accomplish the look I was going for and definitely a proud moment which has inspired me to create more of my own silicone pieces.
6. Who do you look up to in our industry and why?
JOEL HARLOW! His work fascinates me as well as his dedication to his craft. I met him quickly at IMATS last year 2017, and seriously a star struck moment. LOL. He signed my Makeup Magazine copy with his current famous makeup of Natalia as the cover.
7. What is your favorite part about the industry?
I can’t just pick one thing because its many. I love watching my friend’s creations, their passion for their makeups and I value other artist work as well as their dedication. I mostly love being on set and how after working for hours and hours, this amazing film is on the big screen and we all get to enjoy watching our masterpiece. It’s exciting to see your name make its way from the bottom to the top in the credits. I’ve seen this a couple times for me...nothing big yet but still exciting. I love being on set because I don’t feel the hours go by, I don’t feel like its work. I think it also has to a lot with the fact of when I was a kid, I wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry somehow. Now that I am, I don’t want to let go. Specially after letting go of one dream, it would be another hard pill to swallow. We as artist tend to devote ourselves to our creations with our time, our soul, and heart. I can go and on and on about other favorite areas of the industry, but I will say this as the last one. Looking up to successful active artist who have made it and living it, is definitely another favorite of mine.
8. All of us go through times of struggle as makeup artists, what do you do during these times to keep yourself motivated?
And man isn’t it a constant struggle... or maybe I just feel that way. I’m not going to lie, I find myself feeling low most of the time, but as soon as I get hired to do a job, I feel re-energized and motivated to pursue more work. I update my website, my resume, contact people I know and it’s on to the next gig. Another thing I do is follow as many artist as I can on my social media, and when I log on, I see their work on my feed. Seeing their work helps me because their passion inspires me to keep going. Seeing their happiness motivates me to stay driven.
Follow MJ's journey by connecting on social media!
@mjsmuah (on insta/twitter)
Don't forget to check out our film, "What It Takes" on the film page!
And check out all our other awesomeness here like our free workshops, makeup challenges, freebies and MORE!
Amber Talarico and Kenneth Alexander. Amber is the Director of What It takes, and Kenneth is the producer. Our mission is to motivate, inspire and empower freelance makeup and special FX artists around the world to pursue their dreams by sharing knowledge, encouraging artists at all stages, and bring a voice to our industry as professional makeup artists!