Sunday, February 10, 2008

9 Questions with Billy B

Billy B is one busy guy. To say he's a busy makeup artist would be short-selling him. He is a truly one of the most diverse, well rounded, intelligent artists in the business. With a new book and product line poised to set the industry abuzz, he adds product development and author to his bio that already includes just about everything aspect of the business of makeup. It seems everywhere you turn - Billy B is there - this past week that would have included backstage at New York Fashion Week where he was the key artist for the MAC team at one of the hottest shows at the collections - The Blonds.

Billy B at Fashion Week is a pretty special sight. What made you take on The Blonds Show?
I was aware of The Blonds, and was a fan before I had ever met them. I actually met them through myspace and got the sweetest note from them that they both were big fans of mine. Both of them makeup artists themselves at a different time in their lives, they were literal encyclopedia’s of my work. It was VERY flattering and validating. They had me at hello. Bottom line, all they had to do was ask, and luckily for me they did!

Was it more pressure working with a makeup artist as your client?
Hmm, it could have been, but I was abnormally comfortable and excited. They are two of the nicest most unpretentious people in fashion I have ever met, and definitely some of the MOST inspiring!

What direction did the makeup take?
The great thing about The Blonds past as makeup artists, is they really love makeup. The look was fearless and inspired! The reference was the movie Legend from the 80’s. Enough said. The entire collaboration was a match made in heaven for me.

Who was the most memorable person you meet for the first time at the show?
I would have to say one of the assistants, who was from the middle east who was over for the shows, they were so inspired by the look I had created and so excited to be working with me, that it was very nice for me to see someone so inspired. I was happy I could still do that for someone. It was very gratifying for me.

Are you going to be doing shows more often now?
Ok, this is the truth. In NYC it is very rare to find designers who are inspired, fearless, do what the they want to do and it do it for themselves first, and worry about the marketability second. The Blonds understand that a show is a show. They want people to leave feeling like they have seen a real show. If there were more shows like The Blonds, of course, I would love to do more. Shows are very hard work, so unless I feel truly inspired, I would rather pass.

You are truly a multi-faceted artist – fashion, music, editorial, and now author? What can you tell us about your new book?
The book! Well, I’ve started shooting for the book already. I am very excited about it but don’t want to give too much away yet. I am just going to try to do a book that I would enjoy looking at. That’s the best I can do. I hope I succeed and people are inspired by it.

Your beauty story in the premiere issue of On Makeup Magazine caused quite a stir with its purity and minimal retouching. What inspired you to create the shots like this?
Hmm, I heard it did LOL. I went into the story with one intent. To show real makeup, and not the art of digital retouching. I just think that to many rely on re-touching to create a look. And at times I am one of them. I wanted to do a story where you see a real face, with real skin, complete with peach fuzz, lines, texture, the way makeup looks applied to those features. When I began as a makeup artist I would stare at images by Irving Penn and Richard Avedon and would stare at the makeup. Every aspect of it, the texture, Sheen, color, blending and application. That is how I taught myself how to do makeup. Being a self taught makeup artist, and not having digital retouching available to me, I had no choice but to perfect my techniques.

Do you think that retouching is a bad thing?
Absolutely not. Retouching is needed, but not to the point that the art itself is about digital retouching instead of the art of makeup. When things are over retouched it sends the wrong image to women - that every face is flawless - except theirs. I really love the photos Roger Cabello and I created for On Makeup Magazine. They are exactly what I wanted to do creatively and politically. Oh, and by they way, my images were Digitally retouched as well! By the photographer Roger Cabello and his re-toucher Michelle Prassad who both share my philosophy of makeup and beauty.

What can the attendees of The Makeup Show Miami in your Keynote presentation?
I love the audience at The Makeup Show. I have spoken for two years at the New York event and it is amazing to speak to a room of aspiring and working makeup artists. I didn’t have that opportunity when I was coming up as a makeup artist to have access to such things.As for what they can expect from me - I just try to as honest as I can be and tell it like is, the good and the bad. If they like it, they like it. They get the truth. That’s all I can say.

Visit Billy B at and

Billy B will present the closing Keynote address at The Makeup Show Miami on Monday, February 25 at 2:30 PM. Admission to the talk/demonstration are included with admission to The Makeup Show Miami. Tickets from $30 at 866.876.9337 for more information.

The Makeup Show Miami will take place on Sunday, February 24 and Monday, February 25 at The Miami Beach Convention Center and is produced by The Powder Group and Metropolitan Events.

photo: courtesy of billy b

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