THROUGH THE EYES OF A WORKING MUA
HD HQ recently caught up with High Definition make up Creative Director, Francesca Neill, to answer that all important question that every aspiring MUA wants to know – how did you land your dream job?
What was your route into make up?
“It was strange, as I never really planned on becoming a make up artist. Make up was something that I really loved from a very young age, but not something I ever thought I would be lucky enough to be able to pursue as a career. I remember being fascinated watching my mum do her makeup as a child and always thinking how beautiful she looked; I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to wear it.
I grew up in Bury, on the outskirts of Manchester, and make up artistry was never something that seemed to be an option throughout school and college. Academic subjects and University always seemed to be the natural progression and so I left school to study Psychology at Leeds University. It was whilst I was at University that I bought my first MAC products. I remember going to the MAC counter and being completely mesmerised by all the stunningly beautiful girls. I was unable to stop myself staring at how perfectly applied and immaculate their make up was, and I just remember thinking… I want to be able to do that!
After that, the idea of being a make up artist was something I couldn’t shake, and after graduating from University and moving down to London with the intention of pursuing my career in Psychology, all of a sudden I found myself studying at the Jemma Kidd make up school whilst working and learning my craft on the MAC counter. I’m not really sure how it happened!
I worked on the counter and starting freelancing, doing weddings, occasion make up and painting all the faces I could for a couple of years; learning and constantly being inspired by all of the amazing make up artists around me.
Although I loved working on the counter and freelancing, I knew that my dream was to work in the fashion, TV and the music industry. With that in mind, I started to build my portfolio by testing at every opportunity I could with different models, photographers and stylists as well as assisting some incredible make up artists in the industry.
I still remember the first day I was booked for a TV job – I still work with the client to this day – I remember the excitement and adrenaline I felt, as well as being terrified! I still feel that same happiness and excitement about my work today, 8 years on, and I love what I do every single day. I’ve never really looked back…”
What product do you never leave home without?
“The High Definition Eye&Brow Palette, I’m a little bit brow obsessed so I need this with me at all times, but the best thing is it’s a multi-purpose product, so you have your eyeliner, eye shadow and brow powder with you at all times, in one handy case!
How do you feel the industry has changed since you first started?
“The industry has changed quite dramatically since I first started, from the advances in digital photography to the use of promotional social media, right through to the way cosmetic brands develop their products. The industry has evolved and adapted so much, and it’s still constantly changing. I remember when I used to study images in magazines wondering how the makeup artist created the look and wishing I knew what products were used. Now we can find this information out in an instant thanks to social media and in many cases see videos with step by step guides on how to create the look too, which is a massive change. There are no secrets anymore, we have access to so much information, it’s incredible… and although I feel that this access to information can take away the magic a little, I think it’s great in terms of forcing everyone to keep innovating and pushing the boundaries of creativity.”
You are a Creative Director and Brand Ambassador for High Definition make up, how did that come about?
“I was lucky enough to meet Nilam (founder of High Definition) about 5 years ago. It was actually on her wedding day. I was doing make up and we just instantly got on so well; we both love making people look and feel beautiful, not to mention we’re both completely brow obsessed! We realised we worked with many of the same clients and had a mutual respect for each others work. It was a total coincidence but we’ve been really close ever since.
A few weeks later I booked the High Definition Brows training course, which was incredible and has benefited me so much as a MUA. From then on we became good friends and continued to work with each other on a regular basis. Nilam had always spoken to me about eventually progressing the brand from just brows to a complete make up range and asked me if I would be interested in helping her to develop it.
Obviously it was an incredibly exciting opportunity and I jumped at the chance to get involved. I loved the chance to be so creative and develop a complete range from start to finish, which has always been a dream of mine. We then found ourselves mixing colours, playing with texture, trying out and testing product after product, until we eventually launched the capsule collection range in March 2014.
We couldn’t be happier with the range or the response that it received. We are now working on our next line of products and look forward to continually developing and expanding the range.”
Finally, what would be your dream shoot?
Location: Cape Town
Photographer: Mert & Marcus
Model(s): Adriana Lima
Stylist: Grace Coddington
Hair: Sam McKnight
Francesca Neill has beautified many famous faces (and High Definition fanatics) such as Rochelle Humnes, Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden, and she continues to provide her creative flair to the product development of the High Definition make up range, alongside CEO, and great friend, Nilam Holmes-Patel.
Do you dream of a career like Francesca’s? Make your dreams a reality by attending the High Definition Professional Artistry Course: Discover more here or call the team on 0844 801 68 14.