Makeup artist Timothy MacKay started his interest in makeup at film school followed by working with MAC Cosmetics before continuing in the art as a freelancer. His success as a makeup artist has seen him work with clients such as Ne-Yo and Ariana DuBose along with working on film sets and red carpets. Talking with Timothy, he tells us what it’s like working in the industry, his journey on becoming a makeup artist and what three products he couldn’t live without at the moment.
When did you realise you had the talent to become a makeup artist?
In summer 2010 when I laid eyes on the first MAC Cosmetics store I’d ever seen at Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island. I had no experience but I had the strangest calling from God that that is where I needed to be. I was with the brand learning for six years and have been freelance ever since.
What do you remember from your first professional makeup job?
I remember being so scared and having to truly fake it until I made it. I would mess up matching a certain skin tone or applying a product to a certain skin type and really needing to remain calm and fix it without letting them see you sweat. I passed all my makeup certifications my first try and was working fashion week with MAC after only three years.
How long did it take to train to be where you are today?
I honestly believe an artist is always growing and developing. I think my true training was working at MAC but my refinement came once I left and I was placed in various environments where I had to cater my techniques to please the client I’m working with.
What’s been the most elaborate look you’ve created?
Usually my Halloween looks! I go all out with my makeup. I love using contacts and wigs to create the look; whether I’m a demon, a Ken doll, or Catwoman. Haha.
Have you done any work in the UK or overseas?
I have not yet.
How is it seeing your finished makeup looks on magazines and the red carpet?
It’s an incredible feeling. Seeing my client glow and feel radiant while getting photographed truly gives you an accomplished sense of gratitude. I almost ask “wait, I did that??”
How different is it working with clients such as Ne-Yo opposed to actors like Quincy Brown?
Both artists are incredibly kind and nice to work with, and both like their face to look makeup-free, but perfected. The main difference is that I worked with Quincy on a much longer shoot and got to experience more time watching his creative process, whereas the few times I worked with Ne-Yo, it was for quick press appearances.
What was it like working with Olympians Nastia Liukin and Michelle Kwan?
When I met them both at the Women Sports Foundation charity event in 2011 or 2012, I was so unaware of celebrity athletes and Olympians I didn’t know who they were! I remember asking Michelle Kwan what she did (what Olympic sport do you play?). She loved it! She told me she wasn’t going to have a makeup artist for her wedding but wanted to hire me based on my genuine energy. Nastia told me she loved the makeup and coincidentally was starting school at NYU so I was able to glam her up all the time after we met!
How do you decide on what colours and styles would suit different clients?
I honestly get a sense of their personality and mood for the day. I look at the outfit they’ve decided on for the evening’s event and really determine the mood and inspiration for the makeup style I create. I often can’t describe what I’m going to do; it just develops as I get into it. I also consider age, skin tone (for colour selection) and timing we are allotted.
What’s it like working on film sets?
It’s mesmerising to me. I came to New York to be a film major at Hofstra University and even though I started to lose focus and question what about the industry I liked, I knew I had a passion for creating film. Getting to work on film shoots and big sets now makes me feel the same captivating sense I had as a child watching my favourite movies and shows. Now I get to really see what goes into it and it’s incredible; very long hours, but worth it.
You’ve worked with Ariana DuBose, who was in Donna Summer the Musical, have you done other theatre work or would you like to?
I’ve done Ariana DeBose’s makeup numerous times for public appearances, but never for a theatre performance! As far as theatre is concerned, I taught the cast of Trip of Love how to do their own makeup for their roles (as they couldn’t have a makeup artist there to do it every night) and it was so fun and rewarding to see them actually retain the info you give them and be excited to do it themselves. I’d love to do more of this!
Do you have any easy makeup tips you can share for someone not used to wearing makeup?
I say think of the things you care the most about and anything else can come when you have more time to play. If you have blemishes or dark circles – conceal those with a sponge (don’t use a sponge or brush you pull out of your dirty makeup bag or you’ll just keep breaking out!), apply mascara as it will give a soft attention to your eyes and make you look more awake, hydrate your lips so natural color will come to them or apply a tinted balm/gloss. If you have time to add shadow and blush, keep them neutral and warm toned as opposed to blue-based for a more natural look.
Have you discovered any new products in the last few months that you now like to use?
It Cosmetics has really blown my mind! They have so many fantastic moisturisers and products that truly help your skin improve while you’re wearing them. Their mascara is bold and super black (perfect for TV use), their foundations/concealers give amazing coverage, and they have a product for any area of your face you’d need! Their brushes are so soft and blend-able too!
What three products could you not live without?
I often like to switch it up with the products I use but I currently am obsessed with Chantecaille blush refill colour in “fun” which works on so many fair to medium skin tones. Marc Jacobs waterproof pencil eyeliner in various shades. KKW beauty highlighters.
Do you have any large makeup projects coming up in the next few months?
I’ve been doing some on-camera makeup demos lately and just booked two more with People magazine’s syndicated show “People Now” for spring and summer looks, available to watch on PeopleTV and television in various states. I am hoping to do much more of that as well!
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