Inside the Industry: Lisa Eldridge

Renowned makeup artist Lisa Elridge came to LCF this week to discuss her exciting new book Face Paint. Here beauty blogger Jo Sait describes the event. 

On Monday night, as part of the Inside the Industry series, LCF hosted an in conversation with makeup artist Lisa Eldridge and Daily Telegraph feature writer Hannah Betts to discuss the launch of Lisa’s new book Face Paint.

Inside the Industry: Lisa Eldridge

Photography: Hanna Puskarz

The evening began with Lisa discussing how her initial interest in make-up began at an early age, when she would visit her grandmother’s house and was captivated by her vintage makeup collection.

Her obsession grew from there. She saw makeup as a creative medium similar to drawing and so she swapped crayons for lip liner. She described discovering makeup as ‘opening up a whole new exciting world‘.

Blown away by how her infatuation could actually become a career, she described how her sheer determination is what led her to becoming the internationally renowned makeup artist that she is today.

Starting out in the ’80s when there was no internet and limited guidance for what was then a relatively unpopular career choice, Lisa set about gaining what experience where possible, but described at one point feeling as though there was a ‘deep wall of bricks’ between her and her dream job. The various roles she undertook always had a purpose such as working on a makeup counter which allowed her to build a kit and constantly practise on customers.

After realising there was a photography studio over the road via a job at an architect’s, Lisa introduced herself to the photographer and got involved with test shooting, which was a welcome lifeline in gaining more hands on experience and building connections within the industry.

Always having her eye on that end goal – a Vogue cover – Lisa worked strategically and carefully considered what worked best for her portfolio. At one point she turned down a paid advert to work on an unpaid shoot for a half page spread in i-D magazine.

Inside the Industry: Lisa Eldridge

Photography: Hanna Puskarz

Lisa continued to only choose experiences which would further develop her understanding of the industry and the professional attributes of a makeup artist. She eventually found herself assisting top makeup artist Mary Greenwell, knowing that this was the next key step to defining her make-up artist status.

Lisa advice was an inspiration to the students attending whose appreciation of her and her work was evident given the outpouring of praise on social media prior to the event.

Lisa has worked with  everyone from US Vogue’s Creative Director Grace Coddington, to fashion photographers Mert and Marcus. But how does Lisa find the collaborative process, working with a team of various creative people, to create one vision?

“It’s such a lovely moment – like this is the beginning of the day and anything can happen, we don’t know where this is going to go, but it’s going to be so interesting! I absolutely love that,” says Lisa.

Innovation seems to be another of her driving forces and with a portfolio spanning TV, catwalk and editorial to name a few, Lisa embraced the use of social media and digital platforms early on. Today her YouTube channel has over a million subscribers. When asked why beauty and makeup has become so popular in today’s culture Eldridge explained it’s all about accessibility:

“It just became such a nice way for women to learn about makeup – before you just read about it in magazines, but you were never able to see it happen, how to hold the brush and where your arm goes when you put makeup on. Twenty years ago women would have a kind of set makeup look and just stick to it, but now women are a lot more experimental – social media has definitely helped that a lot.”

Lisa had been stealthily vlogging for three years before its widespread popularity, mostly through word of mouth from loyal fans advocating videos to friends and family. At a time when the fashion industry was snobbish towards the use of social media, Lisa explained to her counterparts that this was not for people in fashion but everyday people. Now even her top celebrity clients rave about her videos and use them to create their own looks.

Inside the Industry: Lisa Eldridge

Photography: Hanna Puskarz

It was only a matter of time before Lisa was approached to write a book, the theme of which came about from a personal hobby – collecting historical stories and vintage makeup. Saving the how-tos for her YouTube channel, her first publication Face Paint focuses instead on the history of makeup, an untouched subject in mainstream media. It features industry stories, makeup icons and visionaries across the ages, before delving into the future of makeup.

It is  a fast moving time for cosmetic innovation and this will open up many jobs in the field of cosmetic science. There’s a real sense of excitement about the trajectory of technology in the beauty industry. Always dedicated to her field Lisa made it her business to learn about the science of makeup and sees product innovation as another creative outlet and currently in her role as Global Creative Director for Lâncome the interest is clear:

“I get the chance to say can we do this and it’s just so creative because it allows you to watch something develop and then you see it on the counter and then you’re like wow! – that’s another really creative process” 

The burning question of the evening was the inevitable – what does it take to make it in this competitive industry? Lisa advised:

“Be aware of your industry and be sure on which aspect of makeup you want to work in, so you can then seek out the right people on your level to collaborate with. Don’t wait for it to come to you.”

More specifically she outlined the need to be able to mirror people’s personality:

“For every job, you need to be able to judge the situation and being able to do that is as much part of the job as bringing ideas, researching and having references and all of that. You just need to be passionate about it, interested in it, but also very aware of being able to see a layer beyond that.”

Inside the Industry: Lisa Eldridge

Photography: Hanna Puskarz

One could ask what there is left for Lisa to be excited having already has so much success, but it is clear that the enthusiasm from her first shoot is still going strong.

With a desire to continue to explore the limits of makeup, and through all its creative forms, there’s no doubt that Lisa Eldridge will continue to be a leader in driving beauty innovation for years to come.