Harsha Chavda, London based, is one of the few makeup artist to look out for.  She has trained under some of the most reputable makeup artist such as: Pat McGarth, Liz Martins, Alex Box, Kenny Cambell, and Lis Butler to name a few. 

With her educated background and training experience, she has
had the opportunity to work with fashion photographers; Alexi Lubomirski and many more.  Designers such as Issa, Richard Nicholl, Amanda Wakely (headed Stella McCartney makeup team), she also was a member of Madona's makeup team.

Fashion Photographer: Peter Westh Makeup Artist: Harsha Chavda

Exclusively Fashion Magazine: Have you always been interested in makeup?

Harsha Chavda:  My interest in makeup has evolved over time: as I developed my artistic skills I realized that I wanted to pursue a creative career.  I have always loved experimenting with my own makeup so when the time arrived for me to decide what I was going to do, it was an obvious choice for me to become a makeup artist.

EFM:  Where did you study?

HC: I studied at the London College of Fashion and enjoyed every minute of it. The course made me realize how much I love working with makeup. I then decided to become a freelance makeup artist.  I love what I do and I always feel excited about the next project.

EFM: Tell me briefly how you became a makeup artist?

HC: I knew from an early age that I had a creative streak.  I have always loved drawing, playing with colour and developing images.  Once you realize that you have a creative talent I think you then have to decide what form that creativity should take.  I was attracted to the idea of applying my artistic skills to the human form so I decided to study makeup.  After finishing my course I gradually built up my portfolio by working with photographers and stylists.  This is a gradual process.  For each job you have to work with people who meet your requirements and vice versa. Eventually, your portfolio reflects the effort you have invested in your career.  I also assisted established makeup artists which gave me a great insight into how the industry works. I knew before I started studying that I wanted to concentrate on fashion and editorial work.  This work really excites me because it is so creative and dynamic.  Working in TV or film is more restrictive because there are certain guidelines that you are expected to follow. Instinctively, I knew that the fashion and editorial field would allow me the freedom to constantly create new and inspiring images

EFM: I hear that it’s getting hard to get into beauty school in London, is that true?

HC: I think it is true but if you are determined to succeed I wouldn't let it stop you from giving it a go. A career in makeup is viewed as being glamorous so the courses attract great interest.  This isn't a good reason to enter the profession because there is a lot of hard work involved.  A lot of students decide to study in London because they know that its the fashion capital of the world!  All of this interest creates competition for places which means that the beauty schools can pick and choose the best candidates.  In my experience if you are prepared to work hard you will succeed no matter how much competition there is.

EFM: We all know that you have to work from the bottom to reach the top in this industry. How long have you been working to gain experience and do you think that it is still necessary to work for free?

HC: I started working about 6 years ago.  Whilst I think we should all be paid for doing a day’s work sometimes the client's budget doesn't stretch that far so you have to decide what your priorities are.  At the start of your career I think you have to accept that you need to gain experience before you can expect to be paid for a job. I used to do a lot of work for free and make myself available at very late notice.  The early days are tough but what kept me going was knowing that I was gaining the necessary experience. In time your position changes and you can then expect to be paid.

EFM: How long did it take you to build up your portfolio? 

HC: Building up a portfolio is an ongoing job which can take up to 3-4 years.  In the fashion industry looks change and become outdated quickly so you have to keep reviewing and developing your book to ensure that it appeals to prospective clients.  You have to be on your toes in this game!

Fashion Photographer: Camron McNee Makeup Artist: Harsha Chavda

Fashion Photographer: Camron McNee Makeup Artist: Harsha Chavda

EFM: Did you find it easy to book a job?

HC: You have to make your own luck in this industry.  Jobs come to you by recommendation.  The client will then ask to see samples of your work.  If they like what they see they will instruct you.  It is important to build strong working relationships with clients and colleagues.  If they know that you capable, reliable and personable, they are more likely to want to work with you.  Word of mouth works wonders.

EFM: You worked with many top makeup artists. How was it working for makeup artist Pat McGrath for the first time?

HC: I have been extremely fortunate to assist artists such as: Val Garland, Pat McGrath, Alex Box, Ashley Ward and Sam Bryant.  They are all incredibly inspirational figures within the industry.  I take comfort in knowing that they started out just like everyone else: with a passion for artistry.  They have created hugely successful careers due to their talent, hard work and determination.  Working with Pat McGrath was a great honour for me.  She is an amazing artist whose creativity knows no boundaries.  Pat has worked with everyone in the fashion world from Doir, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Versace. Her energy is contagious so working with her on the shows brings out the best in you.  It is always a privilege to work with Pat.

EFM: What inspires you?

HC: Where do I begin: fashion, art, films and music, the streets of London, Paris, and New York, and holidays.

EFM: What is your typical day like and how long are the hours?

HC: There is no such thing as a typical day in this industry.  It all depends upon the clients' needs and the requirements of the job.  I am often required to work with new people at various locations in different cities.  A job can last anything from a couple of hours to a whole week.  It is the variety and diversity of the work that makes it so interesting.

EFM: Which designers did you work with during London Fashion Week (New York, Milan, or Paris)?

HC: I have worked with designers such as Aquascutum, Issa, Jasper Conran, Roocksander and Stella McCartney.  The fashion shows are a particular highlight of my year.  London Fashion Week is my favourite because it's my home town.

Fashion Photographer: Tom Willcocks Makeup Artist: Harsha Chavda

Fashion Photographer: Tom Willcocks Makeup Artist: Harsha Chavda

Fashion Photographer: Peter Westh Makeup Artist: Harsha Chavda

EFM: Do you have any beauty secrets?

HC: My best beauty secret is quite simple: look after your health and well being.  Makeup can only enhance your own natural beauty; it is not a substitute.  If you feel fit and healthy then makeup will add that extra special something.  Mascara, bronzer and lip balm will have an instant impact on your appearance.  Mascara will open up your eyes, bronzer will give you a healthy glow and lip balm will create a soft pretty pout.  Chapped lips are a big no no.

EFM: Do you think that makeup makes a woman feel more confident?

HC: Makeup can work absolute wonders.  We lead busy lives which can leave us short of time and looking tired.  Makeup can transform your appearance and give you the confidence to enjoy the rest of your day.  It gets us into character!

EFM: What is your beauty tip for sexing it up?

HC: It's simple: beautiful glowing skin, soft smoky eyes and sexy red lips.  The quality of our skin cannot be underestimated.  A light coloured quality foundation is well worth the investment. There is something particularly exciting about dressing up our eyes: it makes us feel sexy and confident.  For some people the most important feature is their lips; a rich red can transform a face instantly.

EFM: What is your must-have cosmetic item?

HC: Concealer.  It's important to achieve flawless skin because it creates a beautiful canvas for you to paint on.

EFM: What is your favorite colour?

HC: Blue.  Different shades of blue have a wonderful way of making me feel both calm and happy.  My favourite shade is sky blue.  I love to gaze up at clear blue sky; it's always changing and creating different shades and tones.

EFM: What are the makeup trends for spring 09 and fall 09?

HC: For Spring/Summer '09 aim to create a refreshing breezy look. Use blusher to give yourself a healthy rosy complexion.  Compliment this by using soft pastel colours on the eyes.  Then finish the look with a soft pink lipstick.  For Autumn/Winter 09 look out for Hollywood glamour. Think deep red lips.  Also, 1980's inspired makeup will be popular. Use daring vibrant pastels to create the look.  For this year's classic look, use grey or brown eye shadow to create soft smoky eyes.  Finish it off with a nude lipstick.  Fabulous!

EFM: What advice would you give to an aspiring makeup artist?

HC: Firstly, you have to have a burning desire to build a career in makeup.  This is a must because the industry is so tough and competitive.  Then I would say make sure you develop your confidence.  This job is as much about personality as it is about skills so make sure you are always positive, friendly and professional.  Overall, if this is what you want to do then go for it and enjoy the journey.  If you are passionate about the industry you will be happy in yourself.  Doing what you love for a living is rewarding in itself.


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Interview by Rochell “E” James





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