Nicki Minaj's signature makeup looks are as well-known as her costumes and lyrics. The sculpted features and Barbie-like look capture her offbeat and larger-than-life personality. It's a look that has spawned hundreds of YouTube and Instagram tutorials. It became so popular that it caught the eye of M.A.C. cosmetics and resulted in her own makeup collection with the company.
Enter celebrity makeup artist Tatiana Ward (@beatfacehoney on Instagram). Ward can be credited with helping perfect Minaj's signature makeup look over the past few years, as well as the looks of other celebrities such as Brandy, K. Michelle and more.
The Hatfield, Pa. native is returning to her roots next week to teach one of her highly in-demand Behind the Beat classes on Sunday, Dec. 14 at the Center City Hampton Inn (the class is sold out already, but there is a waiting list). Ward dished on what goes on behind the scenes doing celebrity makeup, advice for aspiring makeup artists and more!
How did you get your start in makeup?
It's been a lifelong passion. I studied it heavily in high school and practiced on myself. I did two girlfriends for prom but never pursued it until I was an adult living in Atlanta with a best friend. I never went to school for it or anything after high school. I was a singer/songwriter my whole life. I'd been on "American Idol" and made it to Hollywood week. After being cut from the show, I moved around trying to regroup. I worked at different restaurants, bartending and waiting tables, several of which shut down in the midst of my working there because of the recession. This was 2008. I had to figure something out. I had to pick a plan B and couldn't think of anything to do other than music.
At that point I was really good at doing my own makeup and had heard enough times that I should be a makeup artist. I thought to myself, "I could enjoy that. I really, really love makeup, so if this music thing doesn't work out, I'd love to work as a makeup artist and still get to be around the music industry and entertainment." I moved back home to Hatfield and began recording myself doing my own makeup. I posted these videos on YouTube. By 2013 I had over 160 videos posted and 5 million hits worldwide.
What's it like doing the makeup for a celebrity?
Doing celebrities is very much like doing the average woman, yet entirely different. She's in front of you because you can provide a service she can't do for herself. A man's pride is the most delicate thing about him, and a woman's vanity is the most delicate thing about her. She wants to look her best and she's relying on you to do that. There's certainly a lot more pressure, though, because celebrities are relying on you even more so than the average woman. A celebrity will get criticized relentlessly for any little thing. You don't want the criticism to be about your contribution. On the flip side, it's an amazing feeling to hear that everyone loved the bride you did, but it's an even better feeling to have the whole world talk about how amazing a celebrity looked on the red carpet!
Most difficult moment as a professional celebrity makeup artist? Career high?
There's nothing difficult about living your dream! I'm my own boss. I'm truly blessed to be in a position to say yes to the projects I want to work on and no to the ones I don't! If a project or client is too much for me, I can walk away if I choose or stick it out if I choose.
My career high was most definitely being on the "Steve Harvey Show." I worked so very hard to be respected in this industry. To be called upon by a man whose work ethic and brand I admire so much was a blessing. I got to address millions as an authority in my field. What a thrill! I hope to do more of that in the near future.
Tips for women applying makeup?
You don't have to do the most! I tell my students in my Behind The Beat class that Instagram is a lie. Not everyone needs to put on makeup like it's war paint and blend it out to perfection. A little bit can go a long way. Our mothers certainly weren't putting on makeup the way we see it done today but they still managed to be the prettiest women on earth! Less is most certainly always more.
Any advice for aspiring makeup artists?
It's a dream job. I feel as though it's equally as cool as being a rock star... Everybody wants to be a rock star. The people who make it are the ones who go the extra mile. Perfect your craft. Read as much as you can and take as many classes as you can. Never ever stop learning. Be sure to use social media to your advantage and with respect to your brand. Consistency is key. Have a direction and stalk your dream day and night. Most importantly, pray. Ask that guide to guide you in the right way. My biggest blessing was being the house makeup artist at Club Risqué in South Philly doing makeup on dancers. God has a funny way of putting you in the places you need to be. I learned how to do makeup in 20 minute intervals. I learned how to put up with every kind of temperament. Money wasn't great there, but I stuck it out and struggled because I refused to do anything but makeup. I'd come to work at 11 a.m. and leave at 11 p.m. sometimes. That was my stomping grounds for Hollywood. Very little could faze me after spending years in that environment. Whether it's a diva celebrity who's hollering at you 'cause her eyeliner isn't perfect or a dancer who's rushing you 'cause she's got a client out on the floor, its all the same. Just do your job, enjoy it, and never ever let 'em see you sweat!