Make-up artists are usually behind the camera, like way behind the camera. Rarely do they get an opportunity to shine in front of the lens. At Make-Up Artist magazine we want to give them a chance to speak their truth when it comes to the profession and approach. As well as a chance for us to get closer to these creatives—find out what makes them tick, what inspires them and how they make intentions reality.

In this interview, we sit down with renown make-up artist Alex LaMarsh who is a valued educator and has been a staple at many International Make-Up Artist Trade Shows (IMATS). And we have recruited her to be a part of our new and exciting Artistry Unlocked program.

Click here or below to purchase tickets for the upcoming event with LaMarsh in San Francisco at Benefit Cosmetics on Sept. 28. Read on to learn more about this fantastic make-up artist.

Make-up by Alex LaMarsh
Make-up by Alex LaMarsh

Make-Up Artist: Where are you from? Where is your home currently?

Alex LaMarsh: I am originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. I’m a farm kid. I went to high school in Central California, dropped out of college in San Francisco, modeled in NYC, moved to L.A. where I became a make-up artist and now I am back in N.Y., just north of the city. This country kid needs less people and more trees.

MUA: Why did you decide to become a make-up artist?

LaMarsh: I had been a runner up in a modeling competition for Elle magazine, part of my prize was a make-up kit from M.A.C. As a model, I sometimes had to do my own make-up for test shoots. Sometimes photographers would like the make-up I did and ask me to do make-up on the next model that came in. Then photographers started calling me to do make-up on a test shoot if I didn’t have any castings that day. It wasn’t something I took seriously, it was fun and I was good at it. By the time I quit modeling I had built a little portfolio and not wanting a day job I thought I would continue to do make-up until I figured out my life. I thought I would go into tech or something, having always been a computer nerd who built my own website, etcetera. One day, after working on a celebrity I got home and found out I had booked a job for Glamour and it kind of just hit me, this was my career. After that I put everything I had into making it work and building my brand.

MUA: What kind of make-up training have you had?

LaMarsh: Mostly hands on and lots and lots of research. I read the Kevyn Aucoin books ‘til the pages fell out growing up.

LaMarsh onstage at IMATS
LaMarsh onstage at IMATS

MUA: What was your first job as a make-up artist?  What was your first job ever? 

LaMarsh: An art photographer who I had worked with as a model said he saw some of my make-up work online and wanted to hire me. He and I worked together for years and I adore him for that first belief in me and that paycheck this starving artist needed at the time.

My first job was Dairy Queen, I hated it so much I quit to become a cleaning lady.

MUADescribe your craft/make-up artistry with five words. How is your personality reflected in your work?

LaMarsh: Keep it clean, beautiful, fresh. My love of balance shows in my work. I try to find balance in everything from the liner to the model’s features. I also want people to feel good when they get out of my chair, I think that shows in the work too.

LaMarsh make-up
LaMarsh make-up

MUA: What’s worth spending more on to get the best?

LaMarsh: Brush cleaner. Your brushes are the tools of your trade, treat them like the jewels they are so they last you longer.

MUA: What or who are your biggest influences?

LaMarsh: Growing up my loves were old Hollywood, David Bowie, Alexander McQueen and Kevyn Aucoin. Old Hollywood formed my idea of beauty, Diamond Dogs and Ziggy Stardust changed my world. McQueen was the reason I went into the fashion industry, and Aucoin taught me how to do make-up.

MUA: What do you think are some of the most inspiring things happening in the make-up industry currently? 

LaMarsh: I love how accessible artists are now. I think it must be amazing and inspiring to young artists being able to see daily posts on social media from incredible artists. I personally find all the innovations in skincare and cosmetics super inspiring. With all this information out there, consumers are making more educated choices and artists have to do the same.

LaMarsh make-up
LaMarsh make-up

MUA: Which current make-up industry trends are you following?

LaMarsh: I try to keep abreast of them to stay current if clients ask for something but honestly, I just kind of do my own thing and what I feel works best for each shoot.

MUA: What do you think the key to success is in this industry?

LaMarsh: Perseverance, humility, networking and honing your craft.

MUA: What project are you working on now?

LaMarsh: I’m an annoyingly active person. I always have several personal and professional projects going, photo/video shoots, editorial contributions, public speaking and education. My career has given me the option to work on a lot of beauty campaigns and with a lot of cosmetic brands. Unfortunately, NDAs keep me from really ever talking about most of it. So, I am always working to create eye-catching content to keep my portfolio fresh and landing me new great clients.

MUA: Have you ever wanted to do anything else professionally, or have you?

LaMarsh: I love refinishing furniture and daydream of having a small shop in a little town where I can just make things pretty and ship them off to new homes.

LaMarsh onstage at IMATS
LaMarsh onstage at IMATS

MUA: What is a charitable cause you believe in or support?

LaMarsh: I always donate to ASPCA and helping animals, because animals are great and that Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial has me traumatized for life. I’m currently looking for a nonprofit focused on aiding human trafficking survivors. I’d like to find a way to do more than donate, maybe help educated survivors for a future in the make-up industry or get a fundraiser going to help raise money for survivors.

MUA: What’s the title of the current chapter of your life?

LaMarsh: Holy S*&% I’m About to Turn 40!

MUA: What’s the best and what is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?

LaMarsh: Best: Treat people the way you want to be treated. Worst: Usually involves fashion advice.

MUA: If you could only bring four things into space for a long haul on the space station, what would those be?

LaMarsh: Three skincare items and a Kindle.

MUA: What would be the worst job imaginable to you?

LaMarsh: Telemarketer. Nuff said!

MUA: What would be some of the most annoying things about having yourself as a roommate?

LaMarsh: Good question! I’m into keeping the house really clean and would nag you about it. I would claim the kitchen as mine and basically use it all the time. I’m not terribly social so other than nagging you and monopolizing the kitchen you’d never see me. I’m not cut out for the roommate life.

LaMarsh make-up
LaMarsh make-up

MUA: What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?

LaMarsh: My career. By far my career.

MUA: In what situation or place would you feel the most out of place in?

LaMarsh: I get really uncomfortable in large crowds and parties. It’s definitely not my natural habitat.

MUA: What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with, but you just don’t get the point of?

LaMarsh: Strip lashes. I honestly kinda hate them and only use them on request. Typically, I’ll use individuals if needed, they look so great and are so fast to apply. Crazy amounts of contouring is another thing that’s absolutely lost on me.

MUA: Regarding your class, what do you hope will be the take-away for people?

LaMarsh: I hope they take-away a new outlook, some fresh skills and an inspiration in their work.

Click here to purchase tickets for the upcoming event with LaMarsh in San Francisco at Benefit Cosmetics on Sept. 28.