Photograph: Leslie Robertson Toney
In 2010, Derval Barzey started her foray into the world of make-up. Apart from attending several make-up conferences over the years, she considers herself a self-taught make-up artist whose passion has fuelled her development. Her make-up stands out for its soft and radiant “second skin” appearance and she can just as easily turn up the volume to create a dramatic look. In addition to her love for the artistry of make-up, she is also keen on environmental sustainability and doesn`t see either of these passions dissipating. While we can be sure to see more flawless finishes from her, we`ll have to wait and see just what evolves through the interplay of these two passions from this environmental artist.
EP: When did you start doing Makeup?
DB: I started playing with the idea of being a make-up artist back in 2010.
EP: How old were you then?
DB: I would have been about 21.
EP: Were you working then, were you at school?
DB: I had just finished my degree at UWI and was looking for a job. I had gone to Texas for the July August vacation and I went into Sephora for the first time and I remember my first purchase was an Urban Decay Primer Potion because that`s what all the Youtube gurus were using at the time, so I felt like I was so in the game having acquired one. It was a point where you`re just trying to figure out your life, figure out your space in the world. You just finished UWI (University of the West Indies) and you`re kind of wondering “Well what next?” You`re trying to be an adult. *Laughs*.
My first introduction to make up came a bit earlier with a vocational course offered by South UWI. I think that was after I did CXC (Caribbean Examination Council). You`re basically learning to apply makeup on yourself. Then after that I started to do it on my friends. Then I started to get immersed in Youtube and the whole online community and also I started networking with local makeup artists who were starting up around the same time.
“When I`m doing makeup I`m just in the moment. Whatever frustration you have, whatever concerns you have, whatever stress you have doesn`t matter. All that matters in that moment is what you`re there to do and create”
EP: You mentioned that you are also passionate about the environment, so do you see yourself doing both? Being involved in environmental work and being a make-up artist?
Make-up is definitely one of my passions but I also see myself making a contribution in other spheres as well. I`m passionate about sustainability. My academic background is in Environmental Management and I`m now pursuing a Masters in Sustainable Energy. That centres around sustainable development, environmental protection or management, renewable energy etc.
Make-up has really helped me to grow as a person and to develop. It has exposed me to so much that I would not have been exposed to in my conventional line of work. I just love doing photoshoots. I`ve gone to so many places in Trinidad I probably might not have gone to or seen if it were not for shoots. And you meet so many interesting people. I just love that. And when I`m doing makeup you`re just in the moment. Whatever frustration you have, whatever concerns you have, whatever stress you have doesn`t matter. All that matters in that moment is what you`re there to do and create. Because at the end of the day you`re creating something. Whether it`s for a bride, some other special event or a shoot. You`re creating a moment that you just have to enjoy in that moment. Luckily you have pictures to reminisce on it but…
EP: That reminds me of when I did an interview with Yvonne Popplewell and I asked her what her favourite kind of make up to do is. She said she likes doing brides and graduation. She said it`s because they are so excited and so turned on to life and they have no idea the kinds of trouble that can befall them.
DB: *Laughs * It`s like the purest form of joy right. Yes! I want to get married every time I do a wedding because there is just so much happiness and love and excitement in that moment. You forget about what`s going to come.
EP: Can you remember any key moments when you noticed something in your technique shifted and it took your artistry to a new level?
DB: While it might be hard to say the exact point that it occurred, I think what really took my artistry up was when I started to focus on skin. Because you can do all the drama with the eyes and the eye-shadow but to me what really makes a look flawless is when you are able to perfect someone`s skin. That starts with skincare. Then recognizing what kind of skin the person has, primer….When you start doing make-up you want to do really bold and vibrant eyes. You have your 120 palettes and you want to use the 120 colours. *Laughs* But I think in evolving and really becoming a make-up artist I realised skin is what really makes a difference. And that`s where my artistry kind of changed because it was less emphasis on being artistic and creative on the eyes, unless that was demanded, and more focusing on making the skin flawless. So prepping the skin, matching the foundation, setting the makeup, making sure it`s not cakey. Making sure it`s seamless. That was where I started to focus and I started building my kit because you have to cater for the full range of persons that will sit in your chair. The person with dry skin, with oily skin, with acne skin, with combination skin. That has been to me a real defining moment.
“I think what really took my artistry up was when I started to focus on skin.”
DB: I love doing bright lip colours. Over the years I have encouraged so many women to wear bright colours. I`m all about the bold statement lip. I also like doing Carnival make-up. That is where I get to be very expressive. I get to use all the bright colours, all the glitter and the dramatic lashes because generally make-up tends to be a bit understated, unless you`re going to something glamorous, or it`s some sort of shoot that wants that. Your average client just wants to look pretty, look beautiful. Apart from the smoky eye, there`s not much drama.
EP: Do you have any favourite looks from your portfolio?
DB: I do. I`ve had really good experiences collaborating with J. Angelique. I`ve done a couple shoots with them and getting to work with her designs and then the photographers that she would have worked with like Cecil Evans. That collaboration has produced some really great images and working with models like Greer Iton for example. But that has really been an exceptional experience for me, working on her shoots.
Also Carnival. And the brides I have done throughout the years. I really like doing brides.
Derval`s three favourite images from her portfolio.
Photography: Cecil Evans.
EP: Who are some local and international make-up artists that inspire you?
DB: Locally I must mention Arlene Villarule. Her ability to transform and to really bring out that inner Diva. She brings out the Diva when she beats a face. Also Jaumark (Jaupierre) and Natalie Simone-Miles.
Internationally Pat McGrath, Mario Dedivanovic, Sam Fine, Roshar and Kabuki.
EP: What are some of your immense dreams for your make-up?
DB: I just want to continue creating beautiful images. I`m looking forward to rebuilding my portfolio. I want to work with other talented persons in the field. Photographers, designers. That`s on the horizon for me, just creating beauty, or I should say capturing beauty, because it`s embodied in the person and you just bring it out.
EP: Who are some people you want to work with?
DB: There are a number of upcoming designers I`ve been observing who I would love to work with. Hands down I would love to work with Cecil (Evans). I like the quality of his work. I would like to work with Mark Gellineau, Keron Riley. In terms of designers, Meiling, Noor, Wadada Movement. And I would like to shoot really artistic work, in the vein of K2K. All the local designers. Delia from Tobago. I would love to a shoot with an accessory designer, because then you can just focus on the portrait, which would showcase the jewelry as well as the make-up. You know you could do really interesting concepts.
“I feel like there`s something extraordinary in each of us just waiting to be harnessed or pulled out or allowed”
EP: What does it mean to you to be extraordinary?
DB: To be extraordinary is to be your authentic self. Each of us has something extraordinary in us and we lose that when we try to be something that we have been made to feel that we should be. But when you get to the point where you embrace your uniqueness. Your personality, your unique self, that is where you have the opportunity to be extraordinary because you are you, and nobody else is you, and you know the quote that says: “That`s your power”. I feel like there`s something extraordinary in each of us just waiting to be harnessed or pulled out or allowed.
Follow Derval here : Derval Barzey Make-up Artist