How to kick-start your career in Fashion Makeup
Yann Boussand-Larcher is a Paris based freelance makeup artist, who has worked on some impressive fashion shoots and contributed to well received shows. Yann learned his art in Paris at Flavia Palmeira School of makeup. His career started in 2009 as an assistant to well established make-up artists, amongst them Lloyd Simmonds, the artistic director of Yves Saint Laurent Makeup.
Thanks to the experience he gained as an assistant, Yann was hired as a freelance makeup artist and eventually contributed to shoots published in magazines such as Lash, Fashizblack, Wad, Fiasco, Bite Magazine, Schön Magazine and Citizen K. He also worked on a number of shows and in January 2013 he was in charge of the make-up team on the show of Yohan Serfaty Y Project.
Yann how was it like working of Yohan Serfaty Y Project show?
It was really interesting in terms of makeup; the show relied on a dramatic staging evoking a strong atmosphere. It was exciting to lead the make-up team. I was very happy to see our work on the cover of several magazines.
What do you most enjoy in your job?
Make-up is, for me, more than a way to earn a living, it is a real passion. Each booking is a new experience that allows me to participate and contribute to a different creative world. I love creative projects, I love the opportunity to go further to create something new. Whether the style is minimal or very elaborate, each makeup tells a new and different story.
I am also happy … I like the fact that my work helps models to feel more beautiful. I want to contribute something of myself in a team, working in coherence with the models and the shoot to create a unique series of photos.
Every job is exciting. Shows require real teamwork, efficiency and responsiveness while shoots give more time to develop ideas and concepts. To this day I am very excited when I receive the images of my latest work. Seeing your work on prints is such a thrill.
You have recently contributed to an editorial for Numéro magazine?…
In the world of Fashion Magazines, I consider Numéro a reference. Contributing to this magazine was a dream I hoped to realize at least once in my career as a makeup artist!
The model Katja Rahlwes, is extremely beautiful, the photographer was brilliant, the styling superb and the hair styling top. I had in the past assisted Lloyd Simmons on shoots for Numéro; being back as a make-up artist in my own right was true bliss.
Most of my experiences in this business have been exciting. As an assistant I met artists whose work I admire – Camilla Akrans, Mondino and Aldridge – but also celebrities most people only know on screen – Marion Cotillard and Vanessa Paradis. Having backstage access, seeing these people off camera, talking to them about their work and their world is a true privilege.
How did you establish yourself as a makeup artist?
After school, I was a little lost.
I started doing a lot of test shoots with young photographers and emerging models in need of pictures.
This is a common practice in the industry where everyone works for free allowing all those involved to expand their portfolios. Pictures created this way are not always perfect but I found them worthwhile. The absence of a budget on a test shoot, the fact that it involves no money, makes it is easier to take risk, experiment and refine your technique.
Then I worked as an assistant, it is an essential step in our business, an exchange of your time against access to beautiful shoots. The people you get to know this way are the ones that will eventually give you the opportunity to show what you are able to do. The contacts I made as an assistant and social networks have been very useful to build my network. At some point someone has to believe in you. Lash Magazine believed in me and the series that we did together helped me gain visibility.
Fortunately, there are people who can recognise talent and are willing to take some risk; what you need to do is gain their trust. These people have helped me to build my book and I would like to thank all of them. I met Laurent Dombrowicz for example, on a very arty clip; later we worked together on a number of shoots for Schön Magazine and then for Citizen K with Rasmus Mogensen.
There is no standard career; some great makeup artists are entirely self-taught. It’s all about motivation, work, culture, fashion, and of course the ability to cultivate contacts. The road is long and not always easy, you must have a real vision, and be at the same time surprising and persistent.
What skills do you consider most relevant to your work?
In my view, you need a good visual culture, a true vision of fashion. You must have a sense of teamwork and have a positive personality … know how to take care of or model … be able to listen to the team while remaining original and bring something fresh and different.
You have to be careful to select the collaborations that are right for you; to never be complacent with your work and always challenge yourself.
As a makeup artist would you say you have specialties or preferences?
I think high fashion makeup should not have standard or limits. Each job is the result of a search, a response to a theme or an idea that is developed with a team.
A natural makeup is a work of light and in beauty. A very creative makeup may rely on unusual textures, new lines and techniques such as collage for example not usually associated with makeup.
I think light is particularly important and that the stage, whether the runway or the location of a shoot must be accounted for.
You should always work with, highlight the beauty of the model. This is the primary purpose of makeup; it is one of my guiding principles. My work evolves with every job, I learn constantly but if I had to summarize what I do I would say I like to work the complexion in transparency, and structure the face to give charisma and impact.
What inspires your creativity? Where do you get your ideas?
In makeup, it is essential to have references. To find out what has been done, to observe it and try to imagine how you would deal with a similar idea.
It is important to try and understand the art of makeup has evolved in times and according to the products available. For decades now, liner and red lips have been quasi systematic but this was not always the case.
I also observe people in everyday life, their behaviour in different situations, their attitude, their look, their makeup.
Everything can provide inspiration, painting for example, chiaroscuro to pointillism, deals with colours, materials and lines. Photography and cinema are the same. I think art in general is inspiring for artists.
What is the most difficult aspect of your job?
The lack of production budget and the fact that establishing oneself can be tough.
During a shoot, you must possess the communication skills that will allow you to explain the idea or concept in which you believe while respecting the sensitivities of everyone.
It is also difficult to move to larger projects. People need to see a lot of your work before trusting you when larger budget are involved.
What are the pros and cons of working freelance?
Nothing is ever easy in fashion; working freelance is often an added difficulty.
I hope soon to be invited to join an agency. Being represented by an agency or agent does not really change the way you work. The agent organizes your bookings for a fee but it gives you credibility and you are more easily booked.
So this is the next step in your career?
I hope so. I would like to develop my work more broadly, access other products, be team leader on shows, meet new creators … and in the end make the cover of a prestigious magazine!