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

9 Questions with Leslie Lopez

Celebrity Makeup Artist Leslie Lopez is one of the most sought after artists across the globe whenever "gorgeous" is the goal. From red carpets award events to movie premieres and commercial print and video jobs, some of the most beautiful women in the world - Sarah Jessica Parker, Catherine Zetta Jones, Jada Pinket Smith and Kate Hudson among them - come to her to feel and look their best.

There is a lot of excitement about you speaking at The Makeup Show Miami. Have you done anything like this before?
Yes, a few years ago I presented a Master Class at for MAC cosmetics. Like The Makeup Show presentation, it was for professional makeup artists and people from the beauty industry. I really enjoy working with and speaking to other professional makeup artists.

Tu eres Cubana, si?
Si! I was raised in Cuba until I was 11 and then I came to the United States. Much of my family is still in the Miami area, and will come to see me at The Makeup Show.

How has being raised in Cuba influenced your makeup style?
Latina woman tend to use too much make-up. My Cuban heritage influenced my less is more make-up philosophy. I like to highlight a woman's natural beauty instead of covering it up.

Do you remember the first lipstick you bought as an artist?
Definitely - it was a red Chanel lipstick.

How has the industry changed since you started as an artist?
The industry has changed a lot because when I started make-up had supermodel influence and now make-up is based on celebrity influence. Artists have more of an opportunity to be creative with models. With celebrities there is an image you have to maintain and so you need to stay close to that with your work.

What is the last job you did?
I worked with Kate Hudson on her press tour for ‘Fools Gold’.

What product have you recently discovered that you love?
Yes actually, Dior’s Airflash foundation.

Your clients are strong, secure, confident women. What do you enjoy most about working these women?
All of my clients are very different and interesting. The close relationship I have with my clients allows me to create looks based on what I want to do tailored to my client’s needs and requests.

What would you like to do next?
A make-up line.

Leslie is represented by Artists By Timothy Priano

Leslie Lopez will present the opening Keynote address at The Makeup Show Miami on Sunday, February 24 at 10:30 AM. Admission to the talk and demonstration is included with tickets to The Makeup Show Miami. Tickets are from $30 and are available at or call 866.876.9337 for more information.

The Makeup Show Miami will be located at The Miami Beach Convention Center and is produced by The Powder Group and Metropolitan Events.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Why I Love This Industry

Around a year ago I wrote the following post. Soon after that, we announced that we would be launching both On Makeup Magazine and The Makeup Show Miami in Winter 2008. Needless to say, we were a little busy for the next year. Our blog - for the love of makeup - was left lonely and neglected while we moved forward on these other projects. Well, now On Makeup Magazine has launched and The Makeup Show Miami is fast approaching on February 24 and 25, and its time to refocus and get back into our groove. I thought we'd start our relaunch of the blog off again with this post since for me it sums up so much about why this blog, and The Powder Group, exist - we truly do love this industry and the artists and businesses that are a part of it. Yes, we are a business and someday we would even like to be a profitable one - lol. But for now, we do it all for the passion, all for the artists, all for the artistry, and all - for the love of makeup.

Why I Love This Industry:
A little more than 14 years ago I was living in Hartford, having a great time producing events, working in fashion styling and retail and wondering which direction my recently earned Marketing and Business Administration degree was going to take me. Little did I know that a few months later I would fall in love with a business called makeup artistry. I was no stranger to makeup or beauty, my best friend and current The Powder Group presenter
Johnny Lavoy had already owned his own salon for a couple years. I had played with makeup on shows I had styled, and of course the club scene we were a part of was filled with fabulous masters of maquillage. I was a novice but intrigued. Long story short – around this time I began what became a 10 year career with a small company out of Toronto, owned by a couple of gay guys and just starting to take off in New York. You’ve probably heard of them by now, the company was called Makeup Art Cosmetics – MAC for short.

What I learned and loved over the next ten years drove me to the passion for the makeup and beauty industry that I have to this day. Maybe a part of it was that this kid who was always picked last in gym class – had a place where he might get picked first. Maybe part of it was that I was able to help to nurture and develop the ones who felt “different”– who weren’t really sure where they fit but they knew they were unique. Maybe a part of it was that, through MAC, I learned about generosity and social responsibility – and how to make your work count toward more than the financial bottom line. Maybe it was because every day I was surrounded by fabulous, creative, clever people coming together to explore art as expressed through makeup. Maybe it was because that awkward, twitchy kid from Trumbull was able to see something important coming in the future – for himself and for the people around him.

Fast forward to 2006 – three years into the life of The Powder Group – a company I founded to become a resource, support system and central core for the makeup artist community. A community that is far reaching and welcoming. A community that encourages individuality and creative expression. A community that embraces artistry in all its forms and artists in all their capacities. Artists who range from Emmy award winners to makeup students from the Philippines. Artists who range from a full-time Mom who works weddings every weekend to celebrity artists who work red carpets. Artists who range from the owner of a makeup school in Dublin to a young artist from Utah who hasn’t the money to move to a place where he can make it in the freelance world – but works at the local department store making faces beautiful everyday to fulfill his passion.

This industry is incredible. The people are dynamic. The work is inspiring. It’s an industry build on a passion for the art of makeup, fueled by drive. I feel so fortunate that in The Powder Group’s short three year history, hundreds of artists have come to us, from as close as Brooklyn, Philly and Boston and as far away as Japan, Guatemala, and Australia, to be inspired, to open their minds to thinking about makeup in new ways and to share. That sharing, the sense of community, the permission to express yourself creatively, and the opportunity to be proud of who you are and who you are becoming, are why I love this industry.

Michael DeVellis
Director, The Powder Group

photo: The Powder Group Creative