After trying to wrap up my interviews for my trip to London, I managed to squeeze in another interview.  If a door opens you just go with it.  I'm glad I did.  After a long week, before I gathered great questions for Makeup Artist Maria Comparetto.  The original plan was to meet in Soho, but I wasn't able to meet her.  So we had a scheduled phone interview.  Maria took a look at the EFM site. “It's really nice and it's has a lot of people who I worked with,” she laughs, “It’s really reassuring to know that I'm with good people.”  I asked who she worked with. Maria replies: “hair stylist Eugene and makeup artist Katrina.  I've been around for quite a long time now.  I bump into most of those people at one time or another.” 

  Maria has over 18 years of being a successful makeup artist, working with some of the most influential individuals in the industry, building invaluable friendships and clientele such as; long time friend fashion designer Matthew Williamson.  Editorials; Dazed & Confused, ELLE, Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, V Magazine, W Magazine, Vogue Nippon, Russia, and España. Photographers; David Sims, Kristian Schuller, Mario Testino, Koto Bolofo, Solve Sundsbo, and David Slijper.


 Before Maria's amazing career she began in humble beginnings.  Maria knew that she loved makeup at the age of seven, painting her two younger sisters’ faces, “I was constantly putting them in front of a white background, painting, and taking photos of their faces trying to make them look colorful and beautiful. “ I knew from a very early age that I wanted to paint on faces.”  When Maria turned sixteen she left school.  Still having the desire to become a makeup artist, she didn’t exactly know how to get into the business.  “There was no such thing as a makeup course,” says Maria. If there was, it was in London, which was about an hour from where she lived. “It was very expensive and you had to be over eighteen to do it.” She says, 'what do I do', “I know I'm good with my hands and I enjoy creating.” Maria decided to train as a hair dresser.  After being qualified as a hairdresser and after her apprenticeship, “which was really good and grounding for me, it showed me a really good work ethic and made me a good people person.” says Maria.  Knowing that she still loved makeup, at the age of eighteen she decided to do a two year beauty therapist course, which involved a lot more makeup.


Maria is one who definitely believes in training and hands on. While in beauty school, she won all the makeup competitions. “I then knew that I would be quite good at it.”  On the last term of Maria's course, a lady by the name of Amanda Cross came in and did a whole days’ session. “She spoke about her life as a makeup artist more of the commercial side of the business.  She spoke about how she worked with photographers, how she did shoots, travelled, and she showed us her portfolio.” That really confirmed to Maria that becoming a makeup artist was what she wanted to do.  Maria said that was a turning point. After the lecture, Maria approached Amanda and asked her to take her on board to assist her and learn more about being a makeup artist.  Maria said that she would do whatever it takes to become a makeup artist like Amanda. 


 Maria knows what it takes to become the best and in order to do that; you must be a good assistant. Maria knew that she had to start from the bottom; she didn't mind bringing Amanda tea, washing her brushes, learning about the industry, working on location, working in the studio.  Maria speaks of Amanda as someone who guided her career.  Maria assisted her for six months and then got taken on by Amanda's agency, “which was good for me,” says Maria. 


 After you assisted Amanda Cross and joined her agency, things began to take off.  I asked Maria.  She answered, yes.   Amanda helped Maria make a presentable portfolio.  “After assisting Amanda on photo-shoots, Amanda would ask the models, if they wouldn't mind if her assistant do their makeup.  “I would do their makeup and have at least one image per model for my portfolio.”  By the time Maria was done assisting Amanda, she already had five to six strong portraits of models in her portfolio, which showed her skills, and showed that she was good at skin and color. “I was quite creative but yet, was able to hold back and do something that was very natural.”


 Maria says that she started off as a commercial makeup artist, “I was a commercial artist for eight years,” it's very different to what she does now. It was all about appeasing the client, and the agency.  It's a big difference between being a makeup artist for the commercial industry verses being a makeup artist for the fashion industry.  “It was more on a corporate level. There were always big meetings on what the girl should look like, we have a brief on who this person was, more like a character making them up for a commercial or for an ad campaign.”  Working for the corporate gave Maria knowledge and experience on how to work on bigger budgets. Maria says that she was tired of being told want to do (working for corporate).  “My creative streak was ready to come out.”  Maria said, with a slight giggle.


 Maria transitioned away from the commercial market into the fashion market, which she has been in now for twelve years. “I kind of gave up the money,” she laughs and says, for the creativity.  Maria says that working in the commercial market was much harder.  I asked Maria why working as a fashion makeup artist pays less than a commercial makeup artist.  She replies: “When I started out I remember being paid twice as much as I'm being paid now.”  Maria says that the money was great.  “It was the 1990's and there was still a bit of a boom.  The money for a twenty-one year old was great.  I managed to buy myself a flat and a car.  Even though I had the material things, the artist in me still wanted to come out.”  Maria gave up the money for her creativity and her passion.  “It was the imagery and the excitement about fashion that turned me away from the money,” says Maria.


Guided and mentored by Amanda Cross for six months, I had to ask Maria how important do you think it is to assist an established makeup artist. “Oh, absolutely imperative” says Maria.  “There is no way someone can break into this industry, if they don't know what they are breaking into. You have to see how it's done. You have to learn from the greats, Linda Cantello and Pat McGraths.  You have to learn and go deep into their world to see how things are done.”  It helps you to work on your style; it helps you in regards to your work ethic, and your speed in so many levels. You just don't say, 'I'm going to be a makeup artist.'  Everyone that I know who has made it always assisted a very big established makeup artist.”


Maria has been on high demand this past fashion season.  Maria shared with me of some of the shows she was key makeup artist, and shows she has contributed to.


 London Fashion week- “I did a new designer, Jayne Pierson. She has a real 80's flavor to her clothes.  She was in the music industry in the 80's and has taken some of those influences into her designs.  It was a small show, on-off, where they support young and up and coming designers. The show was very well received.

 Milan Fashion Week- “I worked on Moschino Cheap & Chic.  I also worked with Linda Cantello on the Giorgio Armani show.  Maria has worked with some of the best in the industry, one of them being Linda Cantello, whom she has been very good friends with for over the past eight years. What was your experience like working with Linda, I asked Maria.  “I love Linda”, she says.  “Linda is a very good friend of mine.  Working with her for so long, we have developed a close friendship.  To have been working with her all of these years has been a real blessing,” says Maria.  “She is totally inspirational.  Linda is amazing.  She's an iconic makeup artist.”  She continues: “You know when the 'supermodel' was created; Linda was there at the time when Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford were discovered, so she evolved with those supermodels.  She also is very respectful of where I am in my career.”  Maria contributed her time to work with Linda on Giorgio Armani S/S2011.  “Linda will have me on board on her team, she treats and gives me the utmost respect, as an equal.” Maria describing her and Linda’s great working relationship.   Maria oversees what everyone's doing, if they are pulling their weight and to make sure that everyone's makeup looks unified.  “It's a real honor for me to be in this position, although my assisting days are over.  I will help a friend out when they need me,” says Maria with a laugh.

I saw some photos of you with designer, Matthew Williamson.  Are you good friends with him or did you just work on his show?  I asked. Maria replies: “I have known Matthew since he first started out.  He's a very good friend of mine and I did his very first presentation before he became famous.  When Matthew's team was pitching to British Vogue (they were trying to get them interested in his designs), we did a presentation where we got three models to dress up in Matthew's clothes.  Matthew got Vogue to be very interested in his collection. What happened in that scenario; everyone wanted to work with Matthew Williamson.”  Maria adds: “Back then I was a very young and naive makeup artist.  'When you're a no body, no one wants to know you, but when you're somebody, everyone wants a piece of you'.”  Matthew decided that it was best to work with makeup artist, Mary Greenwell for his first fashion show.  “The very lovely Mary Greenwell,” says Maria.  Maria has a clear understanding of how this industry works. She takes it in strides.  “They had the connections to pull out the bigger models. Unfortunately, that is the way the industry works.” Although knowing a talent before the whole world even knows who you are, Maria and Matthew didn't let the fame ruin their friendship. “Matthew is very loyal to me as a friend,” says Maria.

Maria works on some projects with Matthew Williamson.  “I did the H&M project, which he did last year, working on the look books and casting.”


Maria thinks it's paramount to have an agent.  “If you’re a busy makeup artist like me, it's really difficult to juggle.  For instance, if you’re out on a job and a potential client wants to see your portfolio, your agent needs to send out your portfolio.  That is your agents’ job to go out and find new clients for you, so you are free to do your work and be creative. Your agent can do all the marketing for you.”  Maria adds: “People will take you more seriously if you are with an agent.”


 Ending our interview Maria shares with me what she would say to aspiring makeup artists. “Be true to what your style is.  I think that's so important, because so many try to emulate other makeup artists. Find your style and be true to it.  Always look at what you've done and try to see how you can improve.  Don't give up!”


 Maria adds: One main thing that is really important to Maria is her brushes. “You cannot be a good makeup artist unless you have good tools.  Some people say to me, ‘wow you have so many brushes'. How do you suppose to draw a micro skinny line if you don't have the right thin brush?  You learn this from being backstage at the shows.  'A workman is only as good as their tools'” says Maria.  “So good quality brushes, is my biggest tip for anyone.”


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