Sunil Whittle is Make-Up Artist extraordinaire; a secret weapon of some of the top photographers in Trinidad and Tobago. When asked to describe his work, these were some of their responses : “The best Make-Up Artist I ever worked with”, “Flawless”, “Inspired”. Below, a few of Sunil’s own words about how he got started, his craft and the fashion industry in Trinidad and Tobago.
EP: How long ago did you start doing make-up?
SW: I have been doing make-up for quite a long time. I have been doing it professionally for the last four or five years. Before that I dabbled for about five or six years. But I don`t call myself a Make-Up artist. I often joke with my friends that I`m somebody who could “do a face”.
EP: What was it about make-up that captivated you?
SW: Myself. I went to school in the time of the “pretty boy”. Everybody hair had a curl, wearing centre stitch suede Clarks. I really didn’t have that pretty boy image…..I had it, but it wasn’t showing on the outside, if you know what I mean. That`s when I became interested in make-up. I thought, “How do I make myself marketable?”
I had this rag that I would use to keep the face matte and I found an old tube of mascara. That`s really how it started for me.
EP : What is your forte or your pet?
SW: If I had to have a pet, it would be glamour. Just glamour, glamour, glamour, everything glamour! Curls, curls, curls, lashes to the heavens! I can do all types of make-up but if left to me everyone would look fresh out of a photo shoot every day.
EP: What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
SW: I put my all into what I do. I`m exhausted when I do one face, so when it`s finished and the client is happy, that`s what makes me happy.
EP: What are some of your proudest moments as it pertains to your work?
SW: I like all of the work I do. One of the more memorable moments was the photo shoot I had to do with the current Miss TT World. We had to do a mid-night shoot a day before she left for the international pageant to get some new images out.
EP: Who are your mentors in the Trinidad and Tobago fashion industry?
SW: If I had a mentor it would have to be Yvonne Popplewell. She`s absolutely fantastic: a wonderful Make-Up artist and a wonderful woman. Just chatting with her about the craft has meant the most to my development.
EP: Do you think fashion is important? Why? Why do you feel so passionate about it?
SW: I think it`s important because it helps give people an identity. You never know how fantastic you could be, if there`s nothing new coming at you for you to try, or there`s not a new hair style or a new designer that might identify with who you are or where you`re coming from, …..who you think you are as a person. It`s very important.
EP: Do you think fashion is given the respect it deserves in Trinidad and Tobago?
SW: People will buy a pair of shoes, they will make sure they have their nails done, but then when it comes to that person who they know, who might be a designer or a hairstylist, the respect isn`t there. They don’t look at it like, this is the person`s craft, and maybe their livelihood, they just want a “freeco”. They will say oh gosh “do muh face for meh nuh”, “do meh eyebrows”, that sort of thing.
They have respect for the industry because they want to look good and they want to put their best foot forward, but I think some people have a lack of respect for the craftsmen.
EP: What would you say is the state of the fashion industry in Trinidad and Tobago?
SW: I think that we are still developing and if there is encouragement for developing artists well in a few years we`ll be something to see.
EP: How do you feel about the future of fashion in Trinidad and Tobago?
SW: I think we have a very positive future. I think the government needs to look at this as something serious. It`s not a hobby, it`s not a part-time. This is a multi-billion dollar industry and the sooner we embrace that in Trinidad and Tobago, by respecting the craftsmen; the products that they are putting out, the services that they provide, the time, the effort, the energy, we will be able to move forward much faster. But I think the future is quite bright. We`ve lived in a society for a long time where everyone`s parents wanted them to be doctors and lawyers. You say to your mother I want to go and do hair, or I want to do make up and she would say “On your own time! After you become a doctor you could do what you want.”
EP: When you`re 80 …..
SW: Right. “After yuh retire!” When we start looking at these kinds of crafts and skills as a professional service and treat it as such, then, the sky is the limit!See Sunil’s work here : Faces- Sunil Whittle Makeup Artistry