Photo: Antony Scully Photogrpahy
“I`m not a big make-up wearer, I don`t really like doing it on myself” – a statement made my Reneé during our interview which surprises me. Further in the conversation she goes on to explain that this is actually part of the reason why her style as a make-up artist is the way it is; the natural, dewy, “no make-up” look. And just like that what initially seemed contrary makes perfect sense.
Reneé creates seamless, silky, second skin looks for her clients. I was not even aware that make-up could look so much like skin before I had my make-up done by her. In our discussion, I am impressed by the consistency with which she attends workshops to continuously take her artistry to the next level and although to me her make-up is already flawless, like all the greats, she`s always trying to learn something new.
EP: When did you start doing make up and how did you get into it?
RM: I would say my very first foray into doing make up artistry would have been in 2005. In 2005 I had gotten a really good deal on make-up and I brought it to Trinidad to sell. I shipped it in and some of it was damaged when I got it. I couldn`t sell them so I used them as testers. I started playing around with it and I realised, and other people realised, that I had a knack for it. After that I just started to do courses and advanced it as time went on.
EP: So did you start doing make-up on yourself?
RM: Hardly ever you know. I`m not a big make up wearer. I don`t like to do it on myself but I absolutely love to do it on other people. And I gradually got better through courses. Airbrushing make up is one of the things that I love. I started to do that in 2006. I went to New York and did a class in airbrushing and when I came back home I think there was only one other person who was airbrushing make up at the time here. When I came home from that class, my husband`s friend was getting married and I did his wife`s make up. Lucky for me she was very easy going so it wasn`t difficult for me to work with her although I was nervous. It was very simple clean make up and she liked it. I`ve done many courses since then.
“I`m not a big make up wearer. I don`t like to do it on myself but I absolutely love to do it on other people.”
EP: How many courses would you say you`ve done between then and now?
RM: I can tell you the main ones: the ones that I remember that really had an impact on my work. The first one was with TEMPTU in 2006, that`s the airbrush company. After that locally I did the class with Ephraim Hunte, that was maybe 2009. Then I did some more advanced training with TEMPTU in 2010.
EP: You`re fairly consistent with doing courses…
RM: I love it. Learning for me is one of the things I enjoy about make-up artistry. In 2012 I did a class with Vanessa Evelyn, the school goes by the name Petra Alexandra Inc. That class really developed me in a bigger way because Ms. Evelyn is a published make-up artist. She has done covers like Essence and Latina Magazine. When I tell you she was detailed. At that point in time a lot of things were still unclear for me technically as a make-up artist. But after that class I could look at a make-up brush and know what type of hair it`s made out of. It really brought me into a different space technically in terms of make-up. The last course I did was with Monifa Mortis which was also really good. I want to do something this year I just don`t know what as yet.
“Learning for me is one of the things I enjoy about make-up artistry.”
EP: Can you pinpoint a moment when your make- up went to a really outstanding level?
RM: In 2009. Between 2006 and 2009 I was really finding myself and after that I really understood what I was doing and really felt more of a passion from it. And after the class in 2012 with Ms. Evelyn I felt really confident.
EP: What`s your favourite part of doing make up
RM: Perfecting skin. Skin skin skin. That`s my signature; having skin looking as natural as possible but still made up. Brows too actually! I love doing brows!!!
EP: What was the process behind you realising or deciding what your signature style would be?
RM: From the start it was a personal decision although when I first started I would try different looks. I would try the glamour, I would try the beauty. It was a personal thing for me because I never really cared much for make up on myself, so I always tried to replicate that when I was doing my make-up – to keep it natural and light. I had an experience when I was younger, having my make-up done by someone, and I didn`t enjoy it. The person was rough on my face and that translated. When I looked at myself after I didn`t feel like me, I didn`t feel beautiful. I think that was a real defining moment for me, I said I wouldn`t treat someone`s skin like this. I want to see the person looking like themselves but just a little enhanced version. I`m really big with fiancés of brides because I always make sure that their brides look like themselves.
EP: Which local make-up artists do you admire?
RM: I would have to say Kirk Thomas has a special place in my heart because he was one of the first people to support me with make up when I decided I wanted to do this. This was 2005/2006 and I didn`t know him prior to that. I used to say “Kirk let me come with you on jobs” and he said “Ok, cool” and I would go and watch him work and eventually he started to refer clients to me. I picked up a lot of things from him. I`ve always admired him and admired his drive.
I like Nina Alcantara, also my good friend Narvely (Labastide). I really enjoy Arlene Villarule`s make-up. Her make-up is beautiful and precise. I also admire Jaleesa Jaikaran and Jaumark Pierre.
EP: Which make up artists inspire you?
RM: From the US I am mainly inspired by Sam Fine and I have a very strong admiration for many of the UK and Australian make-up artists. I absolutely love Lisa Eldridge, she`s from the UK. Also Charlotte Tilbury. Dick Page, Vanessa Evelyn. Australian makeup artist Merton Muaremi does really really really really really beautiful work.
EP: There are so many fantastic make-up artists now…
RM: Yes, and the thing about make-up is, it`s a matter of preference. A client can be more inclined to an artist whose work is more about colour and matte skin but the quality of the artistry can still be on par with someone who uses a lot of neutrals and dewy skin…
“Someone who is extraordinary is exceptional at what they do. Someone who would go above and beyond what is needed or expected of them.”
EP: Do you have any memorable make-up moments or any favourite images you`ve made?
RM: There is one image that I did with Antony Scully with an Asian girl, it looks like no make-up, but it`s a full face. That was one of the days that I realised how much I put in to having someone still look like themselves and still look natural but just a little bit more polished. So that image actually is one of my favourites.
Photo: Antony Scully Photography
EP: What does being extraordinary mean to you?
RM: Someone who is extraordinary is exceptional at what they do. Someone who would go above and beyond what is needed or expected of them.
Follow Reneé here: Renee Milford MUA
Visit her website here: Renee Milford Makeup Artist