Georgina Graham – Between Blushers & Baby Powder

Words:
Vanessa da Silva Miranda

Between blushers and baby powder, makeup artist Georgina Graham’s life became a lot more colourful after the birth of her twins, but leading a busy creative life doesn’t mean being apart, even when babies do fashion week.

What made you decide you wanted to be a makeup artist?
I happened to be backstage at a McQueen show in the early 2000’s. The atmosphere was electric and I was ‘vibing’ off the energy and in that instant I thought, ‘I want to do that’. I had already been dabbling in freelance makeup, but not in that capacity. I thought it was the best job in the world, and you know what, it really is! Almost every day I do something different, from editorial to advertising, celebrity, brand consultancy or runway. I love the collaborative process of working with a team that I admire and respect and can bounce off creatively, and then I like the solitary research and development side. The travel is intense, but I still get a huge kick out of visiting different countries and working in interesting unique locations, and of course meeting people from all over the world. It’s an exciting and spontaneous line of work.
How would you describe your makeup art?
For a while, I have been known for a fresh cinematic makeup with a cool spin for my work in luxury fashion & beauty magazine titles, advertising or red carpet. I really love to make the person look beautiful and chic, but the shoots that challenge me require time, research and preparation and give me a lot of pleasure and creative satisfaction. It’s not just about the face, there can be other elements such as body painting, adornment or props and sometimes with beauty you take on an art director’s hat and lead the shoot if the makeup is the focus.
Some of your icons include Debbie Harry, Patti Smith, Kim Gordon and David Bowie. These are all artists with very unique aesthetics, who are pioneers in their own terms.  How do you translate their influence?
Firstly, I love these artists and they shaped my teen & young adult years, specifically my audio and visual aesthetic. Pop and sub-culture inspire me and are just such a huge part of who we are as a society and fashion and beauty reflect that.
Where and who do you look for inspiration, nowadays?
Everyone and everything. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I have found some amazing artists and seen some incredible images and also seen a lot of funny things on Instagram, but also, I am kind of bored by social media. So I still go to see gigs, go to theatre, cinema, galleries and museums and read all the time. I also make art working in different mediums, from large scale sculpture to a performance piece I’m working on now. I think that being interested keeps you interesting and relevant. Also, it’s good to take a minute out and appreciate nature, whether it’s a walk on a beach or the park.
If you could do the makeup for one person, who would that be and why?
The next person I am going to work with. It’s always about moving on and forward, not looking backwards. However, if you are talking about fantasising over famous faces, I think I would like to have met Greta Garbo or Nina Simone. And who wouldn’t have wanted to hang in the dressing room with Debbie Harry and Stephen Sprouse, back in the day?
Are women nowadays more adventurous when it comes to makeup or do we still play it safe?
In high fashion, the trend is no makeup. Nowadays, they take a supermodel and shoot her looking normal and women still buy the coat, the bag and the shoes, so it’s a very modern feminist point of view that the women buys for herself and likes to see what’s real. Today I walked past a makeup counter that was advertising sex proof mascara: it was a little bit sad to me to see this as a step backwards in a message to women.  In popular mass culture, the whole Kardashian contour, false lash and liquid lipstick rules the streets. We haven’t had this much makeup since the 60’s when they did a full lash, heavy eye and base with a pale matte lip.
One makeup tip you live by is….
Don’t believe the hype. Potions and lotions aren’t the answer, it’s lifestyle that truly makes the difference. Eat well, sleep well, be active and lead a healthy life. You have one body and one face so take care of it. If it’s a beauty tip, I love to mix a little high end face oil (a drop) into foundation to give a healthy glow to the skin and I also love to use a little smudge of mascara into the root of the lashes for a kind of soft blown out defined eye without looking like makeup. Also, if you buy a mascara and it’s too wet , open it and leave the wand out overnight, it dries it to the perfect consistency and, hey presto, dream mascara!
You gave birth to not one, but two beautiful ‘wild creatures’, Saoirse and Mia. Having twins means twice the bliss but also twice the trouble. Has maternity changed your lifestyle and views of the world?
Yes, it’s the most cosmic magical experience that is so hard to put into words. I find it really hard to read or watch the news as there are so many hard-core subjects that need to be discussed, from climate change to wars around the globe, to over-population, but I can’t deal with reading about child abuse or neglect and I now know what it is to grow and carry and have children and I am in this baby bubble of happiness and joy that I find it hard to see the cruelty and hate.  In work terms, I think I am more relaxed now, I don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s great as it helps my brain focus on something different. And guess what the best thing is? At work, I get to drink an entire cup of tea while it’s hot. Any parent will know exactly what I mean.
Could you describe how a normal day is for you, balancing career and a family with twins?
There is no normal day but the babies have a routine so getting up, feeding them, play time, bath and bed is nearly always the same. When I am away, I miss them insanely and it physically pains me to be separated, but my husband sends photos and videos of them for me to see. I took them all to Paris with me for fashion week, as my husband was away for work. I had fittings, shows and campaigns, so it was too long for me to be away while they are so little. It was a hectic stress, but the babies loved fashion week. It’s hard to manage everything, but there has to be a lot of communication, room for manoeuvre and flexibility with a sprinkling of common sense and a sense of humour.
“Don’t believe the hype. Potions and lotions aren’t the answer, it’s lifestyle that truly makes the difference. Eat well, sleep well, be active and lead a healthy life. You have one body and one face so take care of it.”