Feb 20th, 2017, 09:44 PM

The Life of an Editorial Creative

By Korinah Sodahlon
Image Credt: Korinah Sodahlon
An interview with make-up artist, Cristina Villa

Technology has transformed the fashion world into a hybrid frenzy. Social media is dominating the fashion arena and is now important more than ever to the success of the career of creative professionals.

How does a young creative get a start in this demanding field? I had the opportunity to interview the talented makeup artist Cristina Villa about her experience in the field, with additional advice for beginners.

                                                   Image Credit: Korinah Sodahlon

Korinah: How long have you been involved in the industry and where did you get your start?

Cristina: I have been working in the industry for about four years now. I am from Spain but I got my start in Amsterdam. I went to hair and makeup school there and started working with new designers and photographers.

K: How did you end up in Paris?

Cristina: Well, when you work in fashion you always end up in London, Paris or New York. Between those three, Paris is my favorite.

                                               Image Credit: Korinah Sodahlon

K: Do you have any inspirations when it comes to the work that you do?

Cristina:  I've always been very interested in art. In fact, I studied Fine Arts in university before I decided to do makeup. I learned how different trends became fashionable and how they were replaced by others.  I pay attention to everyday life as well. Just by taking the metro to work or having a drink in the evening I become inspired. 

I like accumulating many ideas and referencing them. It becomes interesting when ideas tend to get mixed up together and become more vague and abstract. I do this when I'm creating a new look; all of these images are in head and I'm influenced by them, but in a more subtle and delicate way. I always want to make sure I'm not going to copy a shade or a shape that I just saw down the street. That's not creating, it's simply copying, and if it were so simple, robots could easily take the creative jobs - but fortunately they can't.

                                                    Image Credit: Korinah Sodahlon

K: How do you communicate with the photographer you’re working with on a shoot to achieve his or her goals?

Cristina: When we get to the studio the photographer and/or the stylist will tell us the idea of the shoot and give us indications of what they want in terms of hair and makeup. Usually it works out pretty well; but sometimes there can be a misunderstanding because they didn't express their ideas well. When that happens, we end up doing something a bit different than what they had in mind.

K: Who is usually present during a shoot?

Cristina: Most likely there's the photographer and photographer assistant, the stylist, the model(s), the hair stylist, the makeup artist. Then if it's a commercial shoot there is often the representatives of the brand, or the fashion editor if it's for a magazine. There might also be some light technician/studio technicians.

K: Is it ever quiet on set?

Cristina: I guess it depends on the shoot, but most of the time we have music playing while we're shooting, usually models are VERY talkative.

                                                              Image Credit: Korinah Sodahlon

K: Have you ever seen a first-time model on set? Do you feel that their comfort level is different than that of one that has been doing it for a while?

Cristina: The young girls can be very shy and naive. I think all teenagers are a bit unsure of their bodies, and if on top of it they have to pose and act in front of people they have just met. It can be very difficult. Then there are older girls that have been doing it for a while that are comfortable with everything: meeting new people everyday and being super open with them, working outside in the cold, or with nudity. We see a lot of nudity in our work.

K: Have you seen any situations in which the young model became more comfortable in front of the camera? What was done, or what changed the situation?

Cristina: Hmmm, I don't know - I think these young girls get a lot of pressure from their agencies. You have to understand, they often start very young and early before they even know themselves or what they want in life, and they are working with people (the photographer and a whole team) that are  much more experienced than they are. 

Sometimes they just do what they are told, without thinking much about it. The photographers are usually very nice, and they give tips and help her when she doesn't feel very comfortable, but I think that their agencies can be very pushy and ask them to just "suck it up" and act like grown women. This is one of the things that is most disturbing to me about the fashion industry - young girls playing the role of grown women full of confidence and sexuality.

                                         Image Credit: Nhu Xuan Hua 2015 Makeup Artist: Cristina Villa

K: Do you think that having to play this role continually can possibly affect them psychologically? Have you personally noticed a change in any models you've worked with personally?

Cristina: Some of them quit after a while, it's probably because they realize that it's much tougher than just "looking pretty." Then there are the girls that decide their career in modeling is better than being in school and studying all the time. So they really watch what they eat, and they go to gym almost everyday, they even have personal trainers. They have to take a lot of selfies for Instagram because unfortunately it's become important for the clients now.

They travel a lot, and their only friends are models who also travel a lot. They can catch up with their friends when they're both in the same city. Every now and then they are able go home and see their family. Of course I think it's tough though. I definitely wouldn't want to be a model! It's often said they make a lot of money, but the truth is most girls don't, and besides the agency takes a huge percentage anyway.

                                    Image Credit: Betina du Toit 2014 Makeup Artist: Cristina Villa

K: Have you learned anything valuable on set that could help models them their start?

Cristina: For the models, I'd say it's important to relax and not think too much. If they start thinking about how each pose will look, their movements will not be very fluid and the final pose will usually look rigid and unnatural. The best thing they could do is to just move around a bit in front of the camera in ways that feel natural. After all, the photographer is going to take many photos, a few are bound to turn out well.

    Image Credit: Anna Dabrowska 2016 Makeup Artist: Cristina Villa

K: Do you have any advice for young make up artists who are just starting out and want to be where you are?

Cristina: When you're young and just beginning, you have to work with a team of people that are also fresh. Not only will this allow you to work together and mutually gain experience, but this also often allows much more room for creative collaboration. This allows the aspiring makeup artist to try and create many different looks, to really get a feel for the craft.

It is very important for them to try as many things as possible, not only for the experience, but it also allows them to try and find their personal style and taste for the work that they do and will do. Later on when you begin working for magazines and clients as a make-up artist, you are much more restricted in terms of creativity, so it's very important you do a lot of free work when you're just getting your feet wet.