This past June, the What It Takes team held a free makeup challenge. It was an intensive 3 week challenge that took talented and extremely dedicated artists on a fun journey to discover more about themselves as well as give them tips and tools to gain more confidence as an artist (this was SUCH a fun challenge to do, btw!)
In the past, we have had short challenges with themes such as Wicked, American Horror Story, Johnny Depp characters, etc. along with outstanding judges such as Joel Harlow, Eryn Kreuger Mekash and Mike Mekash, Erik Soto, Chris Nelson, and more. This time around, Steve Johnson judged for a second time judging the What It Takes Challenges.
With dozens of outstanding submissions, the What It Takes team chose 10 top winners and Steve Johnson chose the top 2 winners: Runner Up Lorena Somers and Winner Sarah Elizabeth.
Elizabeth's entry was quite unique; not only did she submit a makeup, she submitted 3 makeups in ONE video telling a compelling story in one of the most creative ways we have seen yet. (Watch it here)
We have asked Elizabeth a set of questions so she could express the story behind the video and makeup, as well as some very encouraging words to other artists who may be just starting out in their careers!
1. Congrats on winning the WIT Makeup Challenge! Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’m a 19-year-old student from Connecticut. For about 3 years, I was a self-taught makeup artist. In 2016 I had to do an internship for my final senior project. I talked to my advisor about what I should do and she recommended that I work with a friend of hers who is a makeup artist. So, for a month I had the greatest honor to work with Keith Palmer, a professional full-time makeup artist. I quickly realized this is what I wished to do with my life. He passed along a quote by Mohamed Ali which I creatively apply to everything I do; “if your mind can conceive it and your heart can believe it, then you can achieve it.” I am currently preparing myself to begin courses at Makeup Designory in New York
2. You were our winner for the Free What It Takes Makeup Challenge. Your submission was amazing. Could you tell us the story behind it?
The story behind the video is quite personal. For a long time I struggled with self-destructive thoughts. I kept everything away from people around me and no one knew what I was feeling. It wasn’t until a new art form had helped me realize I could spend more of my time creating things I enjoyed instead of being consumed by bad thoughts. Each makeup layer represented my being. The first layer was painted and perfect, as if nothing was wrong. The second was cracked and damaged, but still hidden away. The third, a vast galaxy, represents the endless potential an artist has to create.
3. I know you mentioned that your partner gave you a lot of support and motivated you to enter. Have you always had a lot of support from your loved ones to follow your dream to become a makeup artist?
When I first told my loved ones that I wanted to be a makeup artist, I was met with curious looks. No one doubted that I could do it, they were just wondering why. Some didn’t understand, some didn’t care, but those who supported me did so to their fullest. You have no idea how proud my dad was when I told him I won the makeup contest! My partner has also been the very definition of encouraging. Not only did he shoot and edit the video piece, but he would regularly inspire me to not doubt myself and stay on the creative path
4. If you had any advice to give to someone who might have loved ones in their life who don’t support their dreams to be a mua, what would you tell them?
I am very fond of the term ‘unconditional,’ as it applies to love of others and staying true to yourself. I have kept those who are unconditional with me and those who are not have be released from my life. My advice would be to decide who cares for you unconditionally because they will always be there to support you.
5. Our challenged are all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and you have told us the you did just that! It’s amazing! What was that experience like for you?
The experience was very scary and at the same time very exhilarating. There were times that I battled with self-doubt. But there were also times when my anxiety driven mind would flip on a dime and I would think that I’m a rebel for stepping out of my comfort zone and that no one would ever expect a makeup like this.
6. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is so crucial. What advice would you give someone who might be timid about pushing themselves to do things beyond what they are comfortable doing?
My advice would be that it’s ok to be timid about stepping out of your comfort zone but to quote Shia Labeouf “don’t let your dreams be dreams, yesterday you said tomorrow, so just do it!” It’s a good moto to live by.
7. What are your biggest goals as a makeup artist?
My biggest goals as a makeup artist are to create the next Giger’s Alien, or Predator but for Broadway. Theater is so visual, nothing can be hidden with CGI like in movies. To have the ability to create a life like massive creature on a stage would be ground breaking and a fantastic challenge to attempt. Another goal of mine is to absorb knowledge from the people that inspire me and be happy with everything I create because at the end of the day being happy with yourself is the most important thing.
8. What is your favorite thing about being a makeup artist?
My favourite part about being a makeup artist is meeting people and learning from them. I’m extremely shy. Meeting people and making friends doesn’t come easy to me, but ever since I started doing makeup, I have made so many friends. Everyone I’ve met in the makeup world have been nothing but kind and supportive. Meeting other artists is also a great way to learn new things. You can give and take advice as you meet more people and learn so much along the way.
9. Doing makeup is so fun, and that’s why I created this challenge! What was your favorite part about this challenge?
My favourite part was drawing out what the final makeups would look like. I had never done that before doing a makeup, and found the process to be extremely helpful. The trial and error process really fascinated me. I had to sketch out many different versions of all 3 of my makeup creations before deciding which looked the best.
10. What advice would you give to someone who might be thinking about entering a makeup challenge such as this?
Go for it! The What It Takes makeup challenge is such a fantastic opportunity and the best thing you can do in life is try your hardest. Every part of a makeup challenge could be fun and exciting and a great learning experience. I don’t mean to sound cliché but it’s truly not about winning, it’s about learning and creating.
Thank you, Sarah for such amazing words of encouragement and once again, CONGRATS for being our winner!
If you would like to sign up on the waiting list to our next makeup challenge, click here!
And be sure to check out our documentary What It Takes: A film about makeup artists, which showcases the journey of becoming a successful makeup artist with over 20 award winning makeup artists!
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!