IMAGES PRODUCED BY KAYLA FEENEY
Having started the series at the beginning of the pandemic, it feels bitter-sweet as F Word magazine continues it's Beauty sequence; Makeup Matters, in 2021.
Due to the intimate nature of their work, makeup artists have seemingly had some of the most setbacks when it comes to the Covid-19 legalisation. Here at F Word, we wanted to provide a rich insight into what it has been like to be a makeup artist during this pandemic and to find out about our creatives' lockdown experiences. Along with asking for some predictions for the future of the industry, we've discovered how makeup artists' day-to-day work has been affected during this unpredictable time, and learned about their careers over the past few months.
To accompany this, we set the task for these creatives to produce a visual representation, through any medium of their choice, that showcases themselves and their careers over the past few months.
How has your creativity been affected during the first or second lockdown?
Kayla Feeney: This last year has been a serious whirlwind. When lockdown first happened, I was feeling extremely creative. I started using Tik Tok ironically but then found myself enjoying the process of filming videos. As time went on, I found my creative ideas fizzling and it became increasingly difficult to produce new work. One thing I’ve realized through this year is that no one is meant to spend every day of the week looking in the mirror, followed by staring at photos of themselves. As a make-up artist strictly working from home, there are many limitations to the creative process we usually have. I haven’t heard many make-up artists openly talk about this, but constantly using your own face as a canvas can become extremely unhealthy. I’ve always struggled with my perception of myself and I’ll be the first to admit that I easily slip into looking in the mirror and picking myself apart. I find it more difficult to paint my face technically and find it more challenging to appreciate my make-up work when it’s on my face. As many people are, I’m much harder on myself and judge photos of my work on how I see myself as opposed to the excitement of my creativity. Although these lockdowns have periodically taken some of the joy of being creative, they have also taught me the importance of taking time for yourself to love and learn. You can’t be creative when your head isn’t in the right space. Focus on yourself first. Your creativity will follow.
What beauty trends do you think we will see going forward and any predictions for the beauty industry?
K.F: I always find this question interesting. I haven’t thought about trends much at all in the last year. I’ve never been one to follow trend forecasts or pay attention to what is considered “in”. Of course, when you’re working in the industry you can become more aware. It’s inevitable that people in the fashion and beauty industries follow trends - I’m no exception to this but it’s not something I consciously think about. With social media, the beauty industry moves so quickly, and often the trends on social media don’t reflect those in the fashion industry. The pandemic has thrown a wrench in what is normal in beauty as many brands temporarily scrapped the use of make-up all together and some continue to do so. Masks have become statement pieces and there is a strong emphasis on skincare and natural eyebrows, which I am excited about! I’ve waited for natural brows to come back for years! Going forward and moving out of the life of lockdowns, quarantining and social distancing, I hope there is an emphasis on skin and letting it breathe. We all deserve to feel good in our skin - especially after this pandemic!
Why did you become a makeup artist and how long have you been working as one?
K.F: I started doing makeup back in high school on friends and classmates for weddings and proms. I became obsessed with YouTube in 2007/2008 and followed so many of the original beauty gurus - think Michelle Phan, JuicyStar07, Makeup Geek and Temptalia. Make-up videos back then felt more authentic and less driven by sales and brand partnerships. They made me feel seen and inspired. In 2013 I decided to pursue make-up more seriously and moved to London to study at London College of Fashion and I would consider that to be the turning point for my career and when I officially transitioned into “becoming” a professional make-up artist. It’s been almost 8 years since then. This journey hasn’t been short of its ups and downs, I moved back to NYC in 2018 after I couldn’t obtain a visa in England post-grad. It was so crushing personally and professionally and there have been many times I’ve debated giving up make-up after relocating but there is something that always pulls me back to it. Make-up artistry is a transformative career.
Have the last few months made you contemplate a career change, if yes that did you consider / if not what have you done to adapt to the new restrictions?
K.F: This pandemic has caused uncertainty for a lot of makeup artists. We’ve had little support and our careers are some of the hardest to adjust to virtually. When I’m not trying to create my own work at home, I’m frequently helping friends with their social media accounts. I spend most of my day scrolling through different platforms for inspiration and had already been assisting several friends with their social media accounts when I decided to fully dive into social media marketing and consulting. It was an easy transition for me to step into and I love the internet for better or for worse. It keeps my creativity flowing and connects me to other artists who are keen to share their inspiration and work which is always refreshing.