So many great works and talents come out of the mega metropolis that is Manhattan. Is it any surprise, due to proximity, that Long Island shares this feature as well? Pockets of mini urbanized neighborhoods here on Long Island, or what I call “metroburbs” cultivate artistic talent in all industries.
Celebrity make-up artist Michelle Diez, originally of North Bellmore New York, is one such artist. The origin of Michelle’s talent came at a young age and was fueled by her need to be artistic and play with colors and tones. Her passion has resulted in a successful career in the art of personal aesthetics. I had the opportunity to find out more about Michelle and spotlight a local beauty mastermind.
Q. What was the catalyst for choosing makeup as your artistic medium? Why not paint or pastels?
A. The enduring fascination with fashion led me to find my love for makeup artistry. I began at the young age of fourteen and was driven by the love of how makeup can enhance people’s natural beauty.
Q. Who were you trained by, and how did you build your skills? What was the most important thing you learned?
A. I went to a modeling school at 14 where they taught models how to do their own daytime and nighttime makeup. I realized then my love for makeup artistry. At age of fifteen, I started working for Christian Dior, four years later Chanel, and finally MAC Cosmetics, where I really found my love for the cosmetics industry.
Q. What did you love about the industry and what do you dislike?
A. What I love about the industry is the artistry and creativity. I love to be able to transform a client’s face by making them look natural and flawless, but still look like themselves. That’s what I think identifies my style of makeup applications. What I don’t like about the industry is the political aspect. Throughout my career working with cosmetic lines, I began to see how people weren’t being acknowledged for talent or qualifications, but for whomever is most liked. Management was more about being on a power high then helping artists advance or grow in the company. This led to the decision to have my own business where I could cultivate and speed up my own advancement as a makeup artist.
Q. What’s it like working with celebrated movie star Goldie Hawn and how did that come about?
A. Goldie Hawn is a pleasure to work for. I really do adore her as a person and working with her. She is loyal and such a professional. I met Goldie approximately five years ago. I was doing a job for a red carpet magazine event called Shine On. She was attending and didn’t have a makeup artist in town, so they called me in to work with her. When I got there to do her makeup up she said to me, “honey I’m gonna do my own makeup just come throw some lashes on me”. I went up and she brought me to her bathroom and told me how she likes her makeup applied. I said “ok talk me through it, and if you hate it I will stop and throw lashes on you. She said “ok do your thing!” She loved it and called me a week after to do her charity event and for an appearance on The View. Since then I am her go to for any event she has in NY. She calls me and her hair dresser her “Glam Squad.”
Q. Do you have any advice for up and coming beauty talent wanting to follow in your footsteps?
A. My tips for aspiring talent trying to break into the industry is to put yourself out there and do different jobs, even if it’s free work, to get the experience and credits. You can always learn new techniques from other makeup artists. Be sure to keep yourself updated on the newest products and trends. Artistry institutions like MUD and taking master classes with brands such as Kett Cosmetics and MAC Cosmetics really helps develop your individual skills.
It takes hard work and dedication to become a successful and recognized beauty pro. You must love what you do. Not only do you invoke your inner desire for artistry and color play, but you are also empowered to make another individual feel more attractive and confident, and that is an extraordinary tool. Always remember, true beauty is about enhancing natural features, not creating a new face. Master that, and you will set yourself apart.